Kerber sets up Sharapova clash of the champions

Kerber sets up Sharapova clash of the champions

Having spent six months sidelined by an elbow problem, it is not surprising that Djokovic is experiencing a few physical niggles back in the heat of grand slam competition.

If that was the case he certainly fared better than Monfils, who faded quickly after the opening set. "(But) at the same time what is most important for us is our health and what happens after our career, after you're 30, 35.

Both players hung iced towels around their necks at changeovers and Monfils, who leant on his racquet at times, seemingly to remain standing, needed the doctor, telling the umpire he was feeling sick. "I lose stress. I guess, at the end of the day, that's what you're looking for".

Djokovic rattled through the third set and it looked as though Monfils would quit, but to his credit, he recovered his senses to offer some stern resistance in the fourth.

Fourteenth seed Djokovic broke in the eighth game though but failed to convert his first match point and then faced a break point after losing a rally that left him gasping for air.

Djokovic needed four match points, screaming in frustration on the third after Monfils hit a cross-court forehand victor to extend the two hours, 45-minute match.

"It was brutal", Djokovic said on court. It was a big challenge for both of us to be on the court, to be able to finish the match. Gael is one of the best athletes in our sport.

"I really try to enjoy every single moment right now".

Djokovic has defeated Ramos Vinolas, his opponent Saturday, on all four previous occasions.

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Maria Sharapova revelled in the joy of being back, following her 80-minutte 6-1, 7-6 (7-4) second-round win over Anastasija Sevastova.

While Konta and Muguruza were beaten in Melbourne, world No.1 Simona Halep was in top form as she beat Eugenie Bouchard 6-2, 6-2.

The heat took its toll on a host of players, including Wimbledon champion Muguruza, who suffered with heat-blistered feet.

"So, you know, I feel like I transported myself into the TV this year and I'm finding myself on Rod Laver Arena competing".

The two-time Grand Slam champion, who had just seven unforced errors throughout, was powerful at the baseline and neat with the touch to leave Sharapova - an Australian Open victor exactly 10 years ago - largely chasing shadows. But not this time.

Sharapova was unstoppable in racing through the first set 6-1 before a battle in the second to prevail 7-6 (7/4), proving she must again be taken seriously.

"It was a warm day".

Former world No.1s and ex-Australian Open champions Maria Sharapova of Russian Federation and Angelique Kerber of Germany on Thursday eased past Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova and Croatia's Donna Vekic respectively to set up an intriguing match in the third round of the Australian Open.

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