Australian Open Women’s Day 5:
Maria Sharapova won a grudge match as she knocked out Australian Open holder Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 for a fourth-round place at the event she won 11 years ago.
The five-time Grand Slam champion has a chequered history with third seed Wozniacki, who labelled the LA-based Russian as a cheater after Sharapova was banned for 15 months in 2016 after testing positive for a now-banned heart medication prescribed by her doctor.
Sharapova made her point on court, running off five straight game to recover from 1-4 down and take the first set.
While Denmark’s Wozniacki levelled at a set each, Sharapova came through for victory, breaking for 5-3 in the third set and serving out the winner on a second match point.
The win took nearly two and a half hours and sends Sharapova into a clash with Australian Ash Barty.
“I thought the level was quite high. I knew I was getting a really tough match,” Sharapova said.
“She was the defending champion and I didn’t play a lot of matches last season (shoulder injury) – especially against a top player.
“It was really rewarding to win that last point, these are the matches that I train for. I may have experience,” the 30-year-old said. “But these girls on the other side of the net are not gonna give it to me.
“I still have to work for it (wins).”
Sharapova has now won seven of 11 matches against Wozniacki, with the pair last playing at Madrid four years ago on clay, a victory for Sharapova.
Sharapova’s 15 appearances here are the joint fifth-most among active player.
Upcoming opponent Barty kept home hopes high with her 7-5, 6-1 defeat of Greek Maria Sakkari, setting a new personal best at the home event after stalling in the third round at the last two editions.
The top Australian was treated for an abdominal strain in a medical timeout following the opening set, but settled in after that to conclude victory.
With Aussie men’s tennis in dis-array due to Davis Cup feuds, Sydney tournament champion Barty is keeping her focus strictly on her own game, avoiding all controversy.
“I have no knowledge of what’s happening. We have our Fed Cup team and we focus on what we need to.”
“There are a million stories going around around Grand Slam time because there are so many players, there are so many matches, there are so many amazing stories.
“From my point of view, it’s been a super positive week for the players involved. In my eyes we have had to focus on my tennis, focus on all the other good stories going around.
“I have no knowledge what’s going on with the Davis Cup, so I can’t comment.”
American 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova announced her presence on the big stage, stunning No. 11 seed Aryna Sabalenka 6-3, 6-2 as she played in Melbourne for the first time.
The youngster piled on 21 winners with just nine unforced errors in a dominating performance.
“This is an unreal feeling, I can[t believe this is happening,” the winner said.
“I was expecting a tough match.
“I can’t believe that I got through this round. I’m feeling good and playing really good tennis.”
Fifth seed Sloane Stephens, the 2017 US Open winner, defeated Croatian Petra Matic 7-6(6), 7-6(5). Petra Kvitova ended the run of Swiss Belinda Bencic with a 6-1, 6-4 result.