Heating up: Sharapova vs Kerber in 3rd round; Muguruza out

Angelique Kerber

Former world number one Angelique Kerber celebrated her 30th birthday on Thursday with an emphatic 6-4 6-1 win over Donna Vekic at the Australian Open to set up an intriguing third round clash of former champions with Maria Sharapova.

"I finished the U.S. Open and I was exhausted", she said. "I'm nearly dead", Halep said of the match which equaled Chanda Rubin's win over Arantxa Shanchez Vicario in 1996 - also 48 games - for the Australian Open record in terms of most games. She happens to be the next one that I have to play. I feel like I transported myself into the TV this year and I'm finding myself on Rod Laver Arena competing.

"I am more comfortable at the net than I was".

Since the start of the year, Kerber has played 12 singles matches and won 12 singles matches.

A lot of hype is there around the upcoming fixture as both the tennis stars are looking to get back among the elite of women's singles tennis in their comeback runs.

"I thought it's over at that moment", said Halep of the match points. Halep will play the victor of Saturday's later match between local hope Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka.

The pair met again in Sharapova's next event in Beijing, with the five-time major champion taking the honours on that occasion in a match decided by a third-set tiebreak.

Australia's hope of seeing a homegrown Grand Slam champion now rests exclusively on the temperamental shoulders of Nick Kyrgios after women's contender Ashleigh Barty was sent packing by Naomi Osaka.

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Eighth seed Caroline Garcia battled into the last 16 of the Australian Open Saturday to set up clash with the unsafe Madison Keys for a place in the quarters-finals.

Former No. 1-ranked Karolina Pliskova advanced to a third-round match against No. 29 Lucie Safarova. I was really trying to play my game.

In the men's competition defending champion Roger Federer cruised through to the second week, defeating Frenchman Richard Gasquet in straight sets.

Also advancing were 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, No. 19 Tomas Berdych, No. 25 Fabio Fognini, No. 26 Adrian Mannarino and Chung Hyeon.

Halep next faces big-hitting Japanese-American Naomi Osaka, who won the battle of the exciting young talents convincingly 6-4 6-2 against Australia's Ashleigh Barty to reach the fourth round of a slam for the first time.

Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia, the 8th seed, defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 6-3, 5-7, 6-2.

Another loss at a major had the highly-touted Zverev admitting he may have a problem. Maybe when she had the match balls, maybe I would have lost it.

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