Melbourne, Australia — Maria Sharapova played two nearly flawless sets on either side of the one where she struggled against Lauren Davis in a slight hiccup at the Australian Open.
Sharapova, who won the title here in 2008 and has lost three finals — including last year’s decider to Serena Williams — advanced to the fourth round with a 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-1 on Friday, her 600th tour-level match win.
“Wow. I’ve won 600 matches?” Sharapova asked, responding to a question in an on-court interview. “Is this like a friendly reminder that I’m getting old?
“I think it’s a proud number.”
The 28-year-old, five-time major winner is playing her 13th Australian Open, so she knew what to expect when she lost concentration in the second set despite being up and break and 30-love.
“You know you’re in a Grand Slam environment, third round and against an opponent you haven’t played … that’s fired up and is not going to just give you the match and that’s exactly what happened,” she said. “I am quite happy that I was able to step up in the third set. That was very important.”
The first set was over in 26 minutes, with Sharapova getting two service breaks and not facing a break point herself. She was broken twice in the second, when Davis came back hard and eventually won in the tiebreaker despite conceding a key point after a 27-shot rally when she volleyed into the net, and covered her face with her hand.
Sharapova took a bathroom break before the third set and returned with more composure, making just five unforced errors and breaking Davis three times.
The fifth-seeded Sharapova will next play No. 12 Belinda Bencic, who won the opening match on Rod Laver Arena 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 against Kateryna Bondarenko.
Roberta Vinci, who ended Serena Williams’ bid for a calendar-year Grand Slam in 2015 with a shocking semifinal win at the U.S. Open, lost 0-6, 6-4, 6-4 to Anna-Lena Friedsam.
Kei Nishikori had some trouble with his wrist, taking a medical timeout and losing the next set before recovering to reach the fourth round at the Australian Open with a 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win Friday over No. 26-seeded Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. He’ll next play 2008 Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who beat fellow Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-4, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (4).
Nishikori reached the 2014 U.S. Open final and the quarterfinals at the Australian and French Opens in 2015 before withdrawing from his second-round match at Wimbledon with an injured left leg.
Returning to the fourth round at Melbourne Park for the fourth straight year was a confidence booster, and he said the right wrist “actually, it was OK.”
“In the first set I was sore but after treatment I felt better,” he said. “I tried to stay tough, concentrated again — I played better in last set.”
There was a full house on Margaret Court Arena for the match, including a big section of Japanese supporters waving flags, while matches on uncovered outside courts were delayed because of rain. Play finally began on some outdoor courts after more than a six-hour delay, and seven doubles matches were postponed.
No. 15 David Goffin beat No. 19 Dominic Thiem 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 7-5 — his first win against a top-20 player at a Grand Slam.
He faces a tougher proposition next, against either Roger Federer or Grigor Dimitrov. Federer, who has won four titles in Australia among his 17 majors, enters the third-round contest with 299 wins in Grand Slam singles matches, aiming to be the first man to reach 300.