Australian Open 2018: Federer, Djokovic Win; Sharapova Out
Switzerland’s Roger Federer makes a forehand return to France’s Richard Gasquet during their third round match.
Switzerland’s Roger Federer makes a forehand return to France’s Richard Gasquet during their third round match.(Photo: AP)

Australian Open 2018: Federer, Djokovic Win; Sharapova Out

Roger Federer eased into the second week of the Australian Open with a 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 win over Richard Gasquet on Saturday that kept the Swiss on course for a 20th Grand Slam title.

The 36-year-old defending champion reached the fourth round of the Melbourne Park tournament for the 16th time by shifting up the gears when required to see off his French opponent in just under two hours at the Rod Laver Arena.

Gasquet played a solid match, studded with his trademark occasional moments of shot-making brilliance, but that was never enough to overcome one of the best players of all time.

Watched from the stands by 11-time Grand Slam champion Laver, second seed Federer sealed the victory with a backhand winner to set up a first career meeting with Hungarian Marton Fucsovics for a place in the quarter-finals.

Maria Sharapova in action.
Maria Sharapova in action.
(Photo: AP)

Maria Sharapova's hopes of a title-winning return to the Australian Open were unceremoniously crushed by Angelique Kerber as the battle of the former champions ended 6-1, 6-3 in the German's favour on Saturday.

The Rod Laver Arena evening clash between the only two Grand Slam winners left in the women's draw had the feel of a showpiece final rather than a third-round clash but it was Kerber who rose to the occasion.

Sharapova, back in Melbourne after testing positive for a banned substance here in 2016 resulting in a 15-month ban, looked menacing in the opening two rounds.

But Kerber, who plummeted down the rankings last year after finishing the year before at number one, broke her serve in the first game of the match and that set the tone for what followed.

She streaked away with the first set and although 2008 champion Sharapova briefly threatened a fightback after falling behind in the second, it was not to be the Russian's night.

A fluffed drop shot attempt at 3-4 followed by an unforced error gave 2016 champion Kerber breathing space as she finished the contest in the next game.

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, left, is congratulated by Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas after their third round match. 
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, left, is congratulated by Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas after their third round match. 
(Photo: AP)

Former champion Novak Djokovic added an apparent muscle strain in his lower back to concerns about his elbow problem but still overpowered Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open.

After holding serve to lead 2-1 in the second set, the 14th seed took a medical time-out and lay down on Margaret Court Arena as a trainer worked feverishly on his lower back.

The injury did little to restrict the six-time champion Serb as he returned to break the 21st seed in the next game before rolling on to a fuss-free victory in two hours and 21 minutes.

Djokovic will face South Korea's young gun Chung Hyeon in an intriguing intergenerational battle for a place in the quarter-finals.

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