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Tennis news - Maria Sharapova rolls back the years to defeat defending champion Caroline Wozniacki

Sharapova rolls back the years to defeat defending champion Wozniacki

18/01/2019 at 15:08Updated 18/01/2019 at 15:39

Maria Sharapova produced an imperious display to knock out the defending champion Caroline Wozniacki in three sets 6-4 4-6 6-3 at the Rod Laver Arena.

Five-times Grand Slam champion Sharapova, who won her last major at the 2014 French Open, hit 37 winners against 10 from her opponent and converted her second match-point to set up a fourth round clash with local hope Ashleigh Barty.

It was Wozniacki who drew first blood in the fourth game as she broke the Russian following a couple of loose shots, but after consolidating the break in her next service game, things began to unravel.

Unforced errors allowed Sharapova to rattle off five games in a row, breaking Wozniacki twice in the process, to snatch the first set from under the nose of her opponent with a flurry of ferocious serves.

With 16 winners to Wozniacki's five in the opening set, the pendulum had swung towards the former world number one but after the roof was closed ahead of the second with the threat of rain, it was the Dane who returned stronger.

Sharapova produced just two double faults in the opening set, but rattled off three in her opening service game as Wozniacki won two games on the bounce to provide the perfect response to dropping the opener.

But the 2008 Australian Open champion rallied to break back immediately and then held to get back on level terms. Sharapova was forced to serve to stay in the set, but a long forehand allowed the Dane to break and win 6-4.

At this stage, there was nothing to separate the pair - even in the number of games - but Sharapova was the more accomplished performer in the decider as Wozniacki's challenge faded to become the first of the top eight seeds to depart.

"I haven't played many matches in the past year especially against top players so it's very rewarding," said Sharapova. "Experience is priceless but you still have to work for it."