Kerber revival meets Sharapova roadblock as Melbourne cools

Florence Fletcher
January 21, 2018

It looked like the match may go the distance as Sharapova began to find her angled forehands and started pulling off strong serves, only for Kerber to dig deep and force her way out again. Aside from Sharapova's win over Halep in the opening round of the 2017 US Open - her first major after returning from her suspension - Sharapova has struggled to maintain any type of consistency against quality opponents.

Now seeded 14th, Djokovic needed four match points in an eight-minute last game before clinching the win against Mofils, who needed a medical time out for heat stress in the second set and said he had trouble breathing.

Under the lights at Rod Laver Arena, Kerber's forehand did all the damage for Sharapova, who is still trying to find her feet in the women's singles after a 15-month doping ban. She has since had a major slide and is now ranked 112th.

"I was down love-40".

There were all kinds of comebacks on Tuesday.

Defending champion Federer, 36, defeat Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 in a night match, his first on Rod Laver Arena since clinching a career-reviving title here past year.

Richard Gasquet couldn't cope with Roger Federer's superior service game.

On Tuesday night, he got something different. Comedian Will Ferrell stepped out of the crowd and, slipping into character as Ron Burgundy from the movie Anchorman, conducted the postmatch interview.

As usual, the 36-year-old Federer stayed classy.

But French Open victor Ostapenko was upset by Estonia's 32nd seed Anett Kontaveit 6-3 1-6 6-3.

The Argentinian has beaten Federer six times in their 24 meetings including at the US Open, where the Swiss is a five-time champion, just previous year. This time, he has four-time champion Andre Agassi in his corner.

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If they are able to make a step forward and some players play in not natural positions, and other guys help them, everything is going well".

"I was waking up this morning, I say, okay the "2" is gone right now", Kerber said, smiling.

"I think there are a lot of things that I need to get better at and improve on", she admitted.

Women's Third Round: No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki beat Kiki Bertens 6-4, 6-3; No. 4 Elina Svitolina beat Marta Kostyuk 6-2, 6-2; No. 19 Magdalena Rybarikova beat Kateryna Bondarenko 7-5, 3-6, 6-1; No. 32 Anett Kontaveit beat No. 7 Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 1-6, 6-3.

Federer has unheralded Hungarian and one-time training partner Marton Fucsovics up next and a potential quarter-final with Tomas Berdych, who upset Juan Martin Del Porto in straight sets earlier Saturday.

No. 13 Sam Querrey restored some order for the USA men with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Feliciano Lopez.

Next up is in-form 2016 Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber, who beat Donna Vekic in two easy sets as she starts to rediscover her best again after a miserable past year.

Not even cooling packs could helpSpain's Garbine Muguruza deal with the heat in her second-round setback to Taiwan's Hsieh Su-Wei. She missed the Australian Open past year while recovering from a knife attack that easily could have derailed her career.

Angelique Kerber of Germany celebrates winning against Donna Vekic of Croatia.

The win was a relief for Djokovic, who says hes still not 100 percent after six months off the tour with an injured right elbow and who lost in a second-round shocker here a year ago.

Kerber destroyed Sharapova in the first set.

It was just one of several lighthearted moments during an unusual news conference with former No. 1 Jim Courier that felt more like an impromptu comedy club routine.

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