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Australian Open: Wozniacki, Kerber , Sharapova through

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Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki eased into the third round of the Australian Open with a straight-set win over Sweden’s Johanna Larsson.The Danish third seed needed just 66 minutes to beat world number 75 Larsson 6-1 6-3.

Wozniacki will face Maria Sharapova, who won the tournament in 2008, in the third round on Friday.Russia’s Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion, swept past Rebecca Peterson of Sweden 6-2 6-1.

“That’s a tough third round,” said Sharapova, the 30th seed. “There’s no secret she loves playing out here. I’ve set up the challenge and I’ll need to go out there and take it.”

Three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber overcame Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-2 6-3.The German, who won the Australian Open title in 2016, made just 10 unforced errors to the Brazilian’s 39.

She will face wildcard Kimberly Birrell next after the world number 240 stunned 29th seed Donna Vekic.The Australian, 20, beat Croatia’s Vekic 6-4 4-6 6-1 to reach the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova made quick work of her second-round match against Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu.The Czech, seeded eighth, won 6-1 6-3 in 69 minutes and will face Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic next.

American Sloane Stephens, the 2017 US Open winner, set up a third-round meeting with Petra Martic after seeing off Hungary’s Timea Babos 6-3 6-1.

Ninth seed Kiki Bertens suffered a surprise exit to world number 42 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, despite the Dutch player taking the opening set.Russian Pavlyuchenkova, a quarter-finalist in Melbourne two years ago, won 3-6 6-3 6-3.

Australian Ashleigh Barty impressed the home crowd on Rod Laver Arena as the 15th seed saw off China’s Yafan Wang 6-2 6-3 in little over an hour.”I feel great,” said Barty. “It’s certainly nice to be playing in Australia and playing well.”

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