Australian Open 2019: Caroline Wozniacki to face Maria Sharapova in third-round thriller

Maria Sharapova.
Maria Sharapova. Photo credit: AAP

Australian Open women's champion Caroline Wozniacki has set up a thrilling third-round match against 2008 champion Maria Sharapova, after a straight-sets win over Sweden's Johanna Larsson.

The Danish third seed needed just 66 minutes to beat world number 75 Larsson 6-1 6-3, while Russia's Sharapova swept past Rebecca Peterson of Sweden 6-2 6-1 on Margaret Court Arena.

They will now square off in the third round on Friday, with the winner to meet either Australian 15th seed Ashleigh Barty or unneeded Greek Maria Sakkari in the fourth round.

"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."

Sharapova leads 6-4 in career head-to-head meetings, but they haven't played each other since 2015 and Wozniacki has won both previous times they have met at Grand Slams - in the fourth round of the 2010 and 2014 US Opens.

Caroline Wozniacki.
Caroline Wozniacki. Photo credit: AAP

Meanwhile, 2016 champion Angelique Kerber ousted Brazilian qualifier Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-2 6-3.

Kerber, the world number two and reigning Wimbledon champion, next takes on Australian surprise packet Kimberly Birrell, a 6-4 4-6 6-1 winner over Croatian 29th seed Donna Vekic.  

American fifth seed Sloane Stephens ended the campaign of her former doubles partner and long-time friend Timea Babos.

Stephens triumphed 6-3 6-1 over the Hungarian, although the second-round victory was more hard-fought than suggested by the scoreline.

Stephens enjoyed her Grand Slam breakthrough at the 2013 Australian Open, when she beat Serena Williams to advance to the semi-finals as a 19-year-old.

But recent years have provided slim pickings, with the victory over Babos only her third at Melbourne Park in the past five years.

Stephens' third-round opponent will be world number 31 Petra Martic of Croatia, who ousted Czech Marketa Vondrousova 6-4 7-5.                

French 19th seed Caroline Garcia eased past Australian wildcard Zoe Hives 6-3 6-3.   

Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova upset ninth seed Kiki Bertens from the Netherlands 3-6 6-3 6-3.        

Belarus had two winners - Aliaksandra Sasnovich overcame 20th seed Anett Kontaveit from Estonia, while 11th seed Aryna Sabalenka downed Briton Katie Boulter.