Australian Open 2018: Angelique Kerber sets up Maria Sharapova conflict, misery for Garbine Muguruza

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Two-time grand slam champion Angelique Kerber (Getty Photographs)

Angelique Kerber celebrated her thirtieth birthday with a straight-sets win over Donna Vekic to set up a mouthwatering Australian Open third-spherical conflict with Maria Sharapova, whereas Garbine Muguruza was amongst 5 seeded ladies to crash out Thursday.

Kerber endured a barren 2017 after claiming two Grand Slam titles the earlier yr — her first coming at Melbourne Park — however the German has made an outstanding begin to this season and brushed apart Vekic, 6-four, 6-1, on a sweltering summer time day.

The gang sang “Completely satisfied Birthday” to the left-hander after her victory at Margaret Courtroom Area, however Sharapova won’t come bearing presents in a battle of two former world No. 1s.

Sharapova noticed off 14th seed Anastasija Sevastova, 6-1, 7-6 (7-four), on an eventful, baking-scorching day that noticed Muguruza turn out to be the most important casualty within the ladies’s draw, Hsieh Su-wei surprising the Wimbledon champion, 7-6 (7-1), 6-four.

Simona Halep’s ankle damage didn’t seem to hamper her, the world No. 1 beating Eugenie Bouchard, 6-2, 6-2, however Johanna Konta, Elena Vesnina and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni have been the opposite seeds to make early exits.

AGE JUST A NUMBER TO RESURGENT KERBER

After failing to say a single title final yr, Kerber already has a Sydney Worldwide success within the bag in 2018 and has seemed ominous within the first two rounds.

Vekic was unable to spoil a landmark birthday for the left-hander, who wanted solely 70 minutes to stretch her profitable streak to eleven matches and says she is relishing what her 30s have to carry.

The twenty first seed stated: “Yeah, getting older. I used to be waking up this morning, I stated, ‘OK, the two is gone proper now. I feel I am wanting ahead to the 30s. Additionally, I am feeling the identical as I did yesterday. I’m feeling wholesome. I am nonetheless match.

“I nonetheless take pleasure in my tennis. I am not wanting an excessive amount of concerning the age, simply how I am feeling. I am nonetheless feeling younger.”

MISERY FOR MUGURUZA

Whereas Kerber has hit the bottom operating in 2018, the identical can’t be stated of Muguruza, who was surprised by the 88-ranked Hsieh.

The third seed has suffered with a thigh damage and cramps this month and took a medical timeout for blisters, however stated that was not the rationale for her shock exit.

“I used to be wrapped and with a whole lot of taping, however simply to attempt to make it higher,” the Spaniard stated. “I used to be fairly joyful, as a result of I did not run quite a bit today, I did not actually really feel it. It was attending to the method of actually recovering. That is it.”

HALEP DEFIES THE PAIN 

Halep stated she continues to be troubled by a twisted ankle sustained in her first match towards Destanee Aiava, however the prime seed defied the ache to remain within the hunt for a primary main title.

Bouchard racked up 26 unforced errors on Margaret Courtroom Area and held serve solely as soon as as Halep utilized the strain together with her exceptional retrieving expertise, sealing an emphatic win.

Requested about her damage, the Romanian, who will now face Lauren Davis, stated: “Properly, I nonetheless really feel ache. Additionally, I could not apply a lot. However in the course of the match, I simply forgot about it. I had very tight tape [applied]. I might transfer.

“An important factor is that I might play my recreation not eager about the ankle. I did it nice today.”

SEEDS CONTINUE TO FALL

Ninth seed Konta, a 2016 semifinalist in Melbourne, was on the top of a humbling by the hands of Bernarda Pera, the 123-ranked fortunate loser profitable, 6-four, 7-5.

Sharapova’s success towards 14th seed Sevastova was under no circumstances sudden, however Naomi Osaka’s straight-sets win over sixteenth seed Vesnina raised eyebrows, and Aliaksandra Sasnovich made mild work of ousting Lucic-Baroni, seeded 28.