Melbourne: Angelique Kerber has continued her march towards a second Australian Open crown with a clinical third-round victory over five-time grand slam winner Maria Sharapova.
The 2016 champion made just seven unforced errors on Saturday, holding serve in all but one game in cruising to a 6-1 6-3 victory in an hour and four minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
Kerber will face Taiwain’s Su-wei Hsieh or Polish 26th seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the fourth round.
The German 21st seed is the last remaining major winner in the women’s field following a streak of first-week upsets.
If her campaign so far is any indication, she will be extremely tough to stop.
Kerber took the first set in just 29 minutes, displaying her trademark athleticism and forcing Sharapova into a number of erratic shots.
Sharapova had made it through the opening rounds without dropping a set, but the 2008 champion was outmatched by her Kerber, who evened up the ledger in their eighth career meeting.
Sharapova hit 10 of her 15 winners in the second set but a ruthless Kerber maintained the advantage to consign the Russian to her worst result at Melbourne Park since 2010.
Kerber now looms as a serious title threat, having seemingly overcome the form struggles that plagued her last year.