Saturday 16 February 2019

Wozniacki sets up Sharapova encounter

Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki celebrates after the match against Sweden's Johanna Larsson in the Australian Open. Photo: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki celebrates after the match against Sweden's Johanna Larsson in the Australian Open. Photo: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki and Maria Sharapova are set for a blockbuster third-round meeting at the Australian Open.

Both women were in formidable form against Swedish opposition at Melbourne Park yesterday, with the defending champion beating Johanna Larsson 6-1, 6-3 before Sharapova dispatched Rebecca Peterson 6-2, 6-1.

After her 6-0, 6-0 rout of Harriet Dart in round one, the Russian has dropped the fewest games in the tournament.

She and Peterson did not arrive on Margaret Court Arena until after 11pm, and Sharapova said afterwards: "This is way past my bedtime. I was just thinking what time I'm going to get to sleep."

The Russian took the final two months of the 2018 season off and admitted after her victory over Dart that her troublesome shoulder continues to cause her pain.

Return

Nearly two years into her comeback from a 15-month doping ban, Sharapova has not yet shown signs that she is about to return to the top of the game, but victory over Wozniacki tomorrow would certainly be a statement.

Sharapova said: "I think her results, specifically in the past year, speak for her game, how she's been able to raise her level. I think the Grand Slam was the one trophy she was looking for. With determination, she got there last year.

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal stepped up a gear in a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Australia's Matt Ebden.

The world No 2 played his first match for four months on Monday after a variety of physical issues and looked a little rusty in a straight-sets victory against James Duckworth.

But he was sharper against Duckworth's countryman Ebden and didn't lose his serve once, finishing on a trademark forehand winner.

Reigning champion Roger Federer also kept on track with a 7-6, 7-6, 6-3 win over Britain's Dan Evans.

  • Australian Open, Live, Eurosport 1, 5.0am

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