Kerber Shatters Sharapova Comeback Dream at Aussie Open; Saturday Results

Novak Djokovic reacts after defeating Gael Monfils during their second round match at the Australian Open. AP

Coverage: Watch highlights on BBC Two, the BBC Sport website and app.

Kerber has now beaten Sharapova in the last three matches, but this meeting lacked the struggle of her latest match in Stuttgart two years ago or the epic battle we saw in Wimbledon in 2014 when the Russian saved five match points in the final game before accepting defeat.

The 2016 champion routed Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-3 in a third-round win that showcased her credentials as a title contender and ensured she'll be the only Grand Slam champion still playing in the second week in the women's draw. She showed in pure dominant form, breaking Sharapova three times to race through the opener. "I had a great 2016 and past year was tougher but everyone who knows me knows I never give up". "I will try to continue my run and playing good like I played also here like the last two matches".

"And it works. It works from the beginning".

But, if all else fails her, Sharapova will always have her competitive instinct and she dug in to retrieve the break and give herself a foothold in the match.

A fizzing return at Sharapova's feet brought an immediate break of serve and a roar of "Come on!" followed after a backhand victor took her 3-1 clear. The Russian has admittedly won 0.2% fewer points on serve (59.9% to 60.1%) but she's got a decent edge on return points won (47.2% compared to 44.0%).

The risk, of course, is that Kerber starts hearing that chorus so often that she begins to think too hard again instead of just reacting and hustling and letting her attractive game flow.

Sharapova needed a helping hand and she got it when Kerber finally made a string of errors to hand the advantage back.

A fluffed drop shot attempt at 3-4 followed by an unforced error gave 2016 champion Kerber breathing space.

Simona Halep celebrates after defeating Eugenie Bouchard in their second round match at the Australian Open. AP
Simona Halep celebrates after defeating Eugenie Bouchard in their second round match at the Australian Open. AP

"I feel really happy but I'm also kind of sorry because I know you guys wanted her to win", the exultant 20-year-old said after the match.

She added: "I look forward to these matches".

Sharapova said Kerber was the more aggressive on court and took more risks.

Born in the same year of the Australian Open's debut at Melbourne Park, Kerber soaked up a birthday serenade from the terraces during her post-match interview on the court. "This is a process".

Halep's next opponent will be Japan's rising star Naomi Osaka, who upset No. 18 Ashleigh Barty 6-4, 6-2, and it remains to be seen if Halep can recover in time to deal with Osaka's firepower. I'm around 50 in the world at this point, so I know I'm going to be facing seeded players first, second, third round. I'll have to bring it.

Kerber referred to it as "another tough match". She has won 12 straight matches to start the season: four of them unofficial at the Hopman Cup team event and eight of them on tour.

But, after leaving the court for a bathroom break, he returned to play the third set.

"Angie is already one step ahead of everybody else because nobody else knows what it's like to win a Grand Slam", said the Australian Rennae Stubbs, a television analyst and former player.

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