Kerber Dominates Sharapova and Halep Stops Davis in Thriller to Reach Australian Open Fourth Round
(January 20, 2018) In a match-up between two former champions, 21st seed and 2016 winner Angelique Kerber dismissed 2008 champion Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-3 to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open on Saturday in Melbourne.
The win means that the German remains the lone major title holder left in the women’s draw.
Kerber is now on a 12-match winning streak in 2018. Kerber dominated from the start breaking Sharapova three times in the first set.
Kerber took a 2-0 lead in the second, but Sharapova broke back to get on serve. The set stayed tight until seventh game when Kerber broke serve and served out the match.
“I knew before that it will be a tough match,” said the German. “I was trying to starting from the first point to being aggressive, but also staying really focused on my game, playing every single point.
“I mean, I know Maria is always fighting. After the first set, I was trying to not thinking about the score, just going for it, trying to, yeah, being aggressive and playing actually my game.
And it works. It works from the beginning. Yeah, I’m happy about how I played tonight”
This was the Russian’s first Australian Open since 2016, where she was found to have the substance meldonium in her system. She served a 15-month doping ban.
“I don’t want to take anything away from her and the way she played,” said Sharapova. “I think she played extremely well. She was the more aggressive player. She took a lot more risk than I did.
“In the first set, I didn’t return well. I gave her the confidence by making a lot of errors on the return games. I think with that, she played extremely well.
“She’s a confident player at the moment. A lot of things were going her way throughout the match. The one little opportunity I had in the second set, I didn’t take, I made an error. Sometimes that’s all it takes.”
“There’s a lot of things I need to improve on,” she added. “As I said, this is a process. It’s a lot of things that take time. To be able to get these matches, players that are playing this well, I’m going to face a lot of them this year. I’ll have to bring it.
“Today was not enough.”
“Of course is quite big match,” said Kerber. “I mean, Maria is a champion. She’s always dangerous, especially at the Grand Slams. You know, I mean, it was the third round. But even, I mean, we both know each other very well. We played so many good matches in the past.
“I was really trying to not thinking about everything around and everything about the match, about against who I’m playing. I was just more trying to going out on the special court for me and playing, again, good tennis.”
Kerber will play Hsieh Su-wei next. Hsieh upset third seed Garbine Muguruza earlier in the tournament, knocked out 26th seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 7-5.
Top-seeded Simona Halep had to serve for the match four times before winning 4-6, 6-4, 15-13 over American Lauren Davis in a three-hour and 45-minute match at Rod Laver Arena.
Halep saved three match points in the 22nd game of the third set coming back from 0-40 down.
“Honestly, I thought it’s over at that moment, but was good because I relax my arm and I serve pretty well those three balls,” said the Romanian.
“And then she took the medical. I had time to calm down. I had come to believe again, to restart the mind.
“And also I found more energy after that three minutes’ break. But at 13-All when I took the game, I said it’s my lucky number. So it’s going to be two in a row”
“I played really, really well,” said the American Davis. “Left all that I had out there on the court, and I did all that I could do. I think there is quite a few positives to take away from and to learn from, so things are looking up, I think.”
Davis had to take two medical timeouts in the final set due to her foot for a lost toenail and blisters.
“Well, definitely it was a very tough match,” Halep said. “It’s the only one match that I played like this.
“You know, I was down also Love-40. She had three match balls. It was not easy, but I just kept playing. I just kept believing that it’s not over, even if she’s leading a little bit more.
“I gave everything I had today, and actually, I’m really proud that I could stay there and win it. It was not easy at all. She played great.”
Halep will play the Naomi Osaka. Naomi Osaka upset Australian No.18 seed Ashleigh Barty, 6-4, 6-2 on Margaret Court Arena.
“I feel really happy, but I feel kind of sorry, because I know you guys really wanted her to win,” Osaka said inn her on court interview. “I’ve always wanted to play against an Australian player here, because on TV it seems really cool, so thank you!”
On the prospect of playing the Japanese Osaka, Halep said: “Osaka is hitting strong, so strong. I have to be strong, if I can, on my legs, and just stay there, playing fast, opening the court, as I do all the time.”
Other women advancing to the round of 16, No. 6 Karolina Pliskova who beat Lucie Safarova 7-6 (6), 7-5, No. 8 Caroline Garcia beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, No. 17 seed Madison Keys a 6-3, 6-4 win over Ana Bogdan.
Roger Federer defeated Richard Gasquet 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 to reach his 17th round of 16 at the Australian Open.
“I think I was able to stay a little bit more on the offensive than him,” Federer said.
“Maybe I protected my own serve a little bit better than him. Richard played well, and me too. I’m happy to win tonight.”
Six-time champion Novak Djokovic kept his record perfect against Alberto Ramos-Vinolas, defeating the Spaniard 6-2, 6-3, 6-3. Djokovic had a few medical time outs. He’s into the fourth round for the 11th time.
“I obviously have to be more humble this time with my expectations because I haven’t played for six months,” said No. 14 seed Djokovic.
He’ll face Hyeon Chung next.
Hyeon Chung is 2-0 against the Zverev family this week at the Australian Open this fortnight. The Korean upset younger brother fourth seed Alexander Zverev 5-7, 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 in the third round.
Chung advanced to the second round when older brother Mischa Zverev retired from his match with a virus.
Chung defeated Zverev in the Next Gen finals in Milan.
“Today was really tough match against Zverev,” said Chung. “I have played him last year in clay court. We know how to play each other, but however, he’s already in tough level. The weather is tough, as well.
“I’m just trying to stay calm all the time on the court and just stay relaxed. That’s the key for today”
“I’m just so happy to make the fourth round in slams with so many good players. Naomi (Osaka) also. We are good friends.
“I don’t want to stop here.”
“I think we both played very good for four sets,” said Zverev. “I think the match was very high level. I don’t think it was bad at all. Even in the fourth set, you know, after I lost my serve, I think I still played well. I still had chances to break him back.
“Then in the fifth set, I mean, went so fast that I didn’t really have time to realize what was happening.”
I think game-wise my level was good. I think I should have won in four sets.
But I think for four sets, as I said, the match was very, very high level and very intense.
“game-wise this was not a bad match. He’s 50-whatever in the world. But this was a top-10 level match from the start till the end of the fourth set, and for him until the end.
“You know, rankings sometimes lie. The way he was playing, it was definitely not whatever he is ranked.”
Nineteenth seed Tomas Berdych dominated 12th seed Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 6-3, 6-2. It
It was del Potro’s first trip to the Australian Open since 2014 missing the 2015-16 tournaments with wrist injuries and did not play last year because he did not feel that he was adequately prepared.
Moving into the fourth round also are: fifth seed Dominic Thiem, Fabio Fognini and Tennys Sandgen.