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Impressive Kerber crushes Sharapova in straight sets

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Maria Sharapova and Angelique Kerber
2018 Australian Open
Dates: 15-28 January Venue: Melbourne Park
Coverage: Watch highlights on BBC Two, the BBC Sport website and app. Live commentary on the best matches on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and online.

Angelique Kerber produced a superb performance to beat Maria Sharapova and confirm herself as a title contender at the Australian Open.

The German 21st seed won 6-1 6-3 in the much-anticipated night-session clash between the only two former champions left in the draw.

She needed just 64 minutes to see off Sharapova, breaking serve five times.

Kerber, the 2016 winner, will play Agnieszka Radwanska or Hsieh Su-wei n the fourth round.

The 30-year-old is coached by Wim Fissette after the Belgian split with Johanna Konta at the end of last year, and she arrived in Melbourne having won the Sydney title.

Her speed of foot and ability to return Sharapova’s pace with interest left the Russian struggling from the outset.

A fizzing return at Sharapova’s feet brought an immediate break of serve and a roar of “Come on!” followed after a backhand winner took her 3-1 clear.

The harder and flatter Sharapova tried to hit the ball, the quicker it came back at her.

Kerber raced through six straight games, taking the first set in 29 minutes and breaking at the start of the second.

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

It was only the 21st seed’s brilliant defence that prevented her falling a break down at 3-3 as Sharapova threatened a sustained challenge.

A fist pump followed that crucial hold and Sharapova’s resistance was broken once and for all, a poor drop shot and a netted forehand giving up a fifth break of serve before Kerber closed it out on her second match point.

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