MELBOURNE, Jan 18: Maria Sharapova stunned defending champion Caroline Wozniacki to sweep into the Australian Open last 16 on Friday and joined ice man Roger Federer, who clinically disposed of his opponent.
The Russian five-time Grand Slam winner, who has struggled since returning from a drugs ban in 2017, was as at full throttle in ending the Dane�s dream of a second major title. Sharapova won 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 with the roof closed on Rod Laver Arena and will next play in-form local hope Ashleigh Barty, who bounced Greece�s Maria Sakkari, for a berth in the quarterfinals.
�I thought the level was quite high. I knew it would be a tough match,� said the 2008 champion, who has been in sizzling form at the tournament as she chases her first Slam title since Roland Garros in 2014. Swiss great Federer was also on fire in taming big-serving American Taylor Fritz 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 to stay on track for a third successive title at Melbourne Park and a 21st Grand Slam crown.
On a rain-affected day that delayed play on outside courts, the 37-year-old showed no mercy to the 21-year-old in his 100th match on the centre court in Melbourne.
�I had a really good feeling out here today against someone who can be dangerous,� said Federer after reaching the Melbourne fourth round for the 17th time � more than anyone else ever.
�Taylor played really well. He is going to have many more years on tour playing at this level. It is pretty cool to watch him play.� The double defending champion is gunning for a record seventh Australian title. If he goes on to win the tournament, he will become the first man ever to claim seven or more crowns at two Slams, having already won eight Wimbledons.
Next up for him is fiery Greek 14th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Georgia�s 19th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (9/7), 6-4. Barty beat Greece�s Sakkari 7-5, 6-1, with the 15th seed yet to drop a set in her best performance at Melbourne Park.
She has won seven of eight matches this month to back up a title victory in Zhuhai late last year to shape up as a dangerous opponent for Sharapova.
�It�s getting to the point now where I�m feeling more and more comfortable on the court and can play my brand of tennis, which when I execute I know it works against the best in the world,� said a confident Barty. No Australian woman has won the season-opening Grand Slam at Melbourne Park since Christine O�Neill in 1978.
Meanwhile, unseeded American Amanda Anisimova continued her dream run, ousting 11th seed Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets. � AFP