Sharapova battles past tenacious Kerber
Former champion Maria Sharapova of Russia defeated Germany's Angelique Kerber in straight sets to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open today.sports Updated: Jan 21, 2012 08:47 IST
Former champion Maria Sharapova of Russia defeated Germany's Angelique Kerber in straight sets to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open on Saturday.
Sharapova won 6-1, 6-2, a scoreline that flattered the fourth seed, who was pushed hard by Kerber in the second set before winning in just under an hour and a half.
Sharapova, who won in Melbourne in 2008, broke Kerber three times in each set but had to battle in the second set as the German 30th seed lifted her game.
"I played a really good first set but she certainly stepped up in the second," Sharapova said.
"She was a semi-finalist at the US Open (in 2011) so she has been on the big stage before and I knew she could produce some good tennis.
"The second set was a lot tougher than the scoreline suggests."
Sharapova did not help her cause with 22 unforced errors, 15 of those coming in the second set.
But she always looked in control against Kerber, who defended well but was rarely able to come up with a big shot to hurt the Russian.
Sharapova remains in contention to finish the Australian Open with the world number one ranking, along with current holder Caroline Wozniacki, Petra Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka, all of whom are into the fourth round.