Sharapova silences rival Wozniacki at Australian Open

No. 30 seed Maria Sharapova sent third-seeded defending champion and rival Caroline Wozniacki packing 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 on Friday at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Sharapova, who won here in 2008, fell behind 1-4 early, but won the next five games to take the first set.

“In my mind, it didn’t feel like it was 1-4,” said Sharapova. “I challenged her from the very beginning. I had three break points in the first game. Although I didn’t take them, I felt like I was still putting the pressure on.”

Unforced errors — 19 of them — doomed Sharapova in the second set, but the Russian survived a tense third set to reach the second week in Melbourne for the first time since 2016.

Sharapova was bent on beating Wozniacki, who was critical of Sharapova and perceived preferential treatment at the US Open. Wozniacki said “someone who comes back from a drugs sentence, performance-enhancing drugs, and all of a sudden gets to play every single match on center court, I think that’s a questionable thing to do.”

Friday was the first match between the two since the comments.

Sharapova is now 7-4 in head-to-head matchups with Wozniacki.

Next up for Sharapova is local favorite and 15th-seeded Ashleigh Barty, who beat Greece’s Maria Sakkari 7-5, 6-1.

In other action, American fifth seed Sloane Stephens held off Petra Martic of Croatia 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5) and unseeded American Amanda Anisimova upset No. 11 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 6-3, 6-2.

French No. 19 seed Caroline Garcia was also upset on Friday, falling 6-3, 6-2 to American Danielle Collins.

Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova dominated Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 6-0, 6-3, No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany crushed Australia’s Kimberly Birrell 6-1, 6-0 and eighth-seeded Czech Petra Kvitova eased past Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 6-1, 6-4.

–Field Level Media

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