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Maria Sharpova crashes out of Australian Open third round in just 64 minutes

Tennis - Australian Open - Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia, January 20, 2018. Maria Sharapova of Russia reacts during her match against Angelique Kerber of Germany. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Tennis - Australian Open - Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia, January 20, 2018. Maria Sharapova of Russia reacts during her match against Angelique Kerber of Germany. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Eleanor Crooks

Maria Sharapova was handed an Australian Open hiding by Angelique Kerber in the third-round battle of the former champions.

It was the most anticipated match of the tournament so far but Kerber carried on the tremendous form she has shown to start the season and romped to a 6-1 6-3 victory in just 64 minutes.

The German endured a nightmare 2017 after winning the Australian Open and US Open titles in 2016 and climbing to world number one but is unbeaten so far this year after winning the warm-up event in Sydney.

Given the wobbles endured by the top seeds this week and the wide open nature of the draw, Kerber is fast establishing herself as the title favourite.

The 30-year-old said: "I have so many great memories from this court. I came out and I was trying to enjoy every point. Maria's a champion, she played so good the last few weeks. I was really trying to play my game. I was really happy we have 2018 and not 2017.

"I learned a lot from the last 24 months. I had a great 2016 and last year was tougher but everyone who knows me knows I never give up."

Sharapova wanted to see how her level compared to the top players and in the first set the answer was not very well at all. Kerber was quicker, sharper and far more consistent, allowing her opponent just three of 14 points on her first serve.

When Kerber moved 2-0 ahead in the second set, it seemed the match that had been billed as a potential classic would turn into an embarrassing rout.

But, if all else fails her, Sharapova will always have her competitive instinct and she dug in to retrieve the break and give herself a foothold in the match.

It did not last long, though. The Russian simply could not find the consistency to match Kerber's excellence and the 21st seed did not falter, raising her arms in the air with glee after Sharapova pulled a backhand well wide, her 26th unforced error.

Press Association

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