Sharapova, Wozniacki to meet in 3rd round at Australia Open
By JOHN PYE
AP Sports Writer
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - A side effect of not playing much for Maria Sharapova is the likelihood of having to face highly ranked rivals in the first week of a major.
It doesn't come much tougher in the third round than a match against the defending champion.
That's the equation at the Australian Open after Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki beat Swedish players in straight sets on the same court - technically on different days.
The third-ranked Wozniacki had a 6-1, 6-3 win over Johanna Larsson to finish the day session on Margaret Court Arena before the sun went down. No. 30 Sharapova finished off Rebecca Peterson 6-2, 6-1 a half-hour past midnight, having waited for a five-set men's match to finish.
"It'll be a tough one but I've set up the challenge - willing to go out there and take it," Sharapova told the crowd, after reminding them it was well past her bed time.
Sharapova leads 6-4 in career head-to-heads, but they haven't played each other since 2015 and Wozniacki has won both previous times they have met at Grand Slams - in the fourth round of the U.S. Open in 2010 and 2014.
Both players have been ranked No. 1, but Sharapova has won five Grand Slam titles, including two as a teenager. She won the Australian Open in 2008 and has reached the final at Melbourne Park three other times - all before Wozniacki won her first major title.
Still, she hasn't been past the quarterfinals of a major since returning at the 2017 U.S. Open after an absence of more than 1½ years because of a doping ban.
It's a run she's determined to rectify.
Asked if Wozniacki was the favorite to win, Sharapova chose her words carefully in response: "I mean, relatively speaking on paper, if you're looking at numbers, yeah, absolutely."
But while Sharapova concedes favoritism based on rankings, and that Wozniacki is more confident now that she's won a major title, she's got credentials that outweigh her seeding.
She didn't play after a fourth-round exit at the U.S. Open last September in order to give her problematic right shoulder a rest. And she retired during a quarterfinal match at a warmup event in Shenzhen, China, as a precaution against any further injury.
"If I'm looking at the past season, I only played 11 tournaments. What I really wanted was matches," she said. "Yeah, I want to be playing the top players. When you're 30 in the world, 31, whatever I am right now, I'm going to be facing a top player in the third round. That's the way the seeding goes.
"What I need, I need to be able to set myself up for the next round, and the next round is against Wozniacki."
More AP Tennis: https://www.apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Migrants headed to U.S. to be tested for COVID-19 by Tamaulipas organization
Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office searching for man accused of capital murder
Roma Police Department appoints new police chief
Border wall opponents celebrating Joe Biden's order to stop border wall funding
Differences between President Joe Biden and former President Barrack Obama's inaugurations