Australian Open: Maria Sharapova knocks out defending champion Caroline Wozniacki to reach last 16 
Maria Sharapova reacts to winning her match against Caroline Wozniacki (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Australian Open: Maria Sharapova knocks out defending champion Caroline Wozniacki to reach last 16 

The 30th seed went the distance against last year's champ but came through to reach the fourth round in Melbourne for the first time since 2016.

notfirstnoel
Noel John Alberto

The headline third round match on the women's side on Friday surely did not disappoint. It was arguably the biggest win for Maria Sharapova since her return. She moved well, struck the ball well, and more importantly, served brilliantly. The 30th-seeded Russian eliminated defending champion Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 and will now face Australian number one and home favorite Ashleigh Barty

Streaky Set Stolen By Sharapova

Wozniacki battled in her opening service game, holding off three break points to win a marathon 16-point game. Sharapova had no problems her opening service game but dropped serve in the next service game as she struggled with unforced errors. The defending champ swiftly moved to a 4-1 lead with the set. 

A switch flipped for Sharapova who began to turn it on and dictate with her forehand. She'd break back for 3-4 after the three seed double-faulted on break point down and promptly leveled it at four apiece. The 30th-seeded Russian continued her rich run of form with another break for 5-4 and made no mistake closing out the set, using her forehand once again.

Maria Sharapova's forehand played a crucial role in this match (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Maria Sharapova's forehand played a crucial role in this match (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Tight Margins

It was a near repeat from the opening set with Wozniacki flying out to a three-game advantage before the 2008 champion brought it back level with that forehand of hers. Wozniacki had her chance to go up after a backhand winner down the line gave her break point in the eighth game. Sharapova fought them off for four-all, but she had to rue a missed chance for an opening for 0-30 the following game after a poor drop shot attempt.

The Dane held for 5-4 and mounted the pressure on Sharapova who double-faulted to set up set point. A forehand error sealed the set in a match that deserved to see the two former champions go at it for one more set.

Caroline Wozniacki stole the second set with a late break (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Caroline Wozniacki stole the second set with a late break (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Serving was no problem for either woman to start the set, and it would be Wozniacki who ran into trouble first. Sharapova unleashed some massive returns, the Dane did her best to hold her off, but a return that hit the line followed by a forehand winner gave the Russian the break. 

The serving of Sharapova in this final set was immaculate, dropping five points in four service games. After a double-fault from the defending champ, she fended off the one break point, but the Sharapova forehand did the damage as she closed out the match.

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