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Jan 20, 2019 | Sports News

Australian Open: Former champions Kerber, Sharapova fall

By Paul Myers - RFI
REUTERS/Aly Song
REUTERS/Aly Song

Australian Open debutant Danielle Collins created the shock of the women's event on Sunday when she thrashed second seed Angelique Kerber 6-0, 6-2 in 58 minutes to reach the last eight.

Ranked 35th in the world, she has dispatched three seeded players on her way to the quarter-final.

"I may not have won a Grand Slam match before this tournament but I think it's going to keep happening," she said. "I hope to have many more of these occasions."

Kerber appeared shellshocked as the 25-year-old American bludgeoned winners from both wings.

In their previous meeting last summer, Kerber won 6-1, 6-1 on the grass at Eastbourne before going on to claim the Wimbledon title in July.

Different story
But nearly seven months later and on the hard courts of Melbourne, it was a rather more noxious narrative for the 2016 champion. Collins rampaged through the first set in only 20 minutes.

And after yielding her first set of the tournament, Kerber failed to threaten a comeback. "She hit every ball on the line, in the court," said the 30-year-old German.

"I was just trying but I couldn't find my rhythm. The whole match I was trying everything."

Maria Sharapova, the 2008 champion in Melbourne, also fell on Sunday in the last 16. The 30th seed squandered an early advantage to lose to the hometown hero Ashleigh Barty 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Sharapova claimed her biggest scalp since completing a 15 month drugs ban in 2017 when she ousted the third seed Caroline Wozniacki in the third round.

The 31-year-old Russian initially displayed the power and precision that had accounted for the defending champion in the previous round.

But from 1-1 in the second set, Barty unleashed nine consecutive games to level and then take control of the tie at 4-0 in the decider.

Sharapova clawed back to 3-4 but the 15th seed regathered her poise to serve out and reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final.

"I knew I had to keep chipping away," said Barty. "In a sense, trust the work we've done. I know that I can match it with the best."

The 22-year-old will face eighth seed Petra Kvitova after she saw off 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova from the United States. Kvitova swept home 6-2, 6-1 in 59 minutes

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