A standout matchup of the third round, two former Australian Open champions will face off in the first match of the night session on Rod Laver Arena. Maria Sharapova was a winner in 2008 while her opponent’s success came much more recently. After beating Serena Williams in the final, Angelique Kerber won the event in 2016 as part of an outstanding season that saw her end the year as World No.1.
2017 was not kind to Kerber as she failed to live up to the lofty expectations placed upon her with the German coming into this year ranked outside the top 20. However, she is now on a 7 match competitive winning streak after a Hopman Cup final to begin the year. She won all 4 matches at the exhibition event before an impressive run in Sydney to win her first tournament since the 2016 US Open. She has taken that form into this event, making it now 12 straight sets won after victories against Donna Vekic and Anna-Lena Friedsam. “I have now a lot of more confidence than, like, few months ago to going in a match like that. I’m playing good. I feel the ball. I enjoy my tennis again. I think this is the most important thing for me.” she said.
Sharapova put in a great serving performance to conquer Anastasia Sevastova in straight sets in round two. She won over 80% on first serve to ensure she wasn’t dragged into a three set slug fest like their previous two meetings had been. “I was really happy with how aggressive I was. I was consistent but I was looking to come forward. I played really well at the net, finished the balls off with a swing volley or good volley. Something I’ve been working on, and definitely improved in the match today.” she said.
It bodes well for the matchup with Kerber, one that Sharapova does lead 4-3 and 2-0 on hard courts. However, they did not meet during Kerber’s career year due to Sharapova’s ban yet the German still won the last 2 matches in ’14 and ’15. With both players ascending right now, this match could go a long way to deciding the tournament’s winner especially with both players being confident of beating Radwanska or Hsieh in the next round.
Prediction – Angelique Kerber in three sets