With a sensational comeback after dismal months, Maria Sharapova knocked out defending champion Caroline Wozniacki in a breathtaking three set match at the Australian Open on Friday. The former champ sealed a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory against the Dane to enter the fourth round in Melbourne for the first time since 2016.
Although the match was not the final of the tournament, both tennis stars brought one of their finest displays toe to toe at the Rod Laver Arena.
After winning the toss, Sharapova elected to serve first but Wozniacki leaped to a quick 4-1 lead in the first set.
However, the match came into life with the 31-year-old Russian fighting back to catch up with her forehand. She broke the serve from the World No 3 into a 5-4 lead.
Despite starting with a 4-1 lead, Wozniacki was dismantled after the number 30 seed won the five games in a row and went on to finish the set with 6-4.
Wozniacki, who was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis last October, landed a concrete start in the second set as she pilfered the game points thanks to the opponent’s unforced errors.
Sharapova gave powerful returns to the sloppy Wozniacki’s serve and proceeded to bag the match point which came in two hours and 24 minutes.
It was the first big achievement for the five-time Grand Slam champion since the two-year suspension over a positive doping test. She will take on local favorite Ashleigh Barty in the fourth round. The no 15 seed defeated Maria Sakkari 7-5, 6-1 earlier in the day.