Heating up: Sharapova vs Kerber in third round; Muguruza out
Melbourne — Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza struggled with the heat in an upset second-round loss to Hsieh Su-wei that left just three major winners in the Australian Open women's draw on Day 4.
Two of them will meet in the third round.
With a forecast high of 39 Celsius (102 Fahrenheit), 2008 Australian Open winner Maria Sharapova hurried through the first set on Rod Laver Arena in 23 minutes before beating No. 14-seeded Anastasija Sevastova 6-1, 7-6 (4).
Temperatures hovered close to 40 Celsius (104 F) as 2016 champion Angelique Kerber set up a meeting with Sharapova with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Donna Vekic in a 70-minute afternoon match at Margaret Court Arena.
The crowd sang Happy Birthday and gave three hoorays to celebrate Kerber's 30th birthday. It was her 11th win, including the Sydney International title last week.
"Happy to be playing tennis again like 2016," said Kerber, who planned an ice bath before a relaxed dinner out in Melbourne to mark the occasion.
Sharapova, who missed last year's Australian Open while serving a 15-month ban for a failed doping test on her previous trip to Melbourne Park, was happy to beat the player who'd ended her run at the U.S. Open last year — her first major since the suspension.
"It's a warm day. I did my job in two sets against someone that's been troubling in the past for me," Sharapova said. "I think I deserve to smile out there after that victory."
Muguruza had little to celebrate after her 7-6 (1), 6-4 loss to No. 88-ranked Hsieh, who has been No. 1 in doubles but had only previously beaten one top 10 player in singles.
Muguruza followed Venus Williams and U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens out of the tournament in the first week, leaving only Sharapova, Kerber and French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko as Grand Slam winners in the draw.
"She's definitely a very tricky opponent — she played well," said Muguruza, acknowledging that the heat was bothersome but it wasn't the hottest conditions she'd experienced in Australia. "I could have done things better, but at the end, she deserves to win."
Considered one of the contenders for the title after Serena Williams opted against defending her Australian title, Muguruza had a troubled preparation. She retired with cramps in the second round at the Brisbane International and withdrew before her quarterfinal at Sydney because of a right thigh injury.
Against Hsieh, she struggled with her serve, made 43 unforced errors. She needed a medical time out in the first set, and accidently hit a ball into a line judge in frustration.
Ninth-seeded Johanna Konta, the 2016 Australian Open semifinalist, fended off three match points before losing to U.S. lucky loser Bernarda Pera 6-4, 7-5.
No. 123-ranked Pera is making her Grand Slam debut and, after losing in the last round of qualifying, didn't even know she had a spot in the main draw until Margarita Gasparyan withdrew with an injury.
"It feels amazing. I was ready to leave on Monday and then they told me I'm in, so I was obviously excited," Pera said. "I was checking the tickets to fly back. I'm happy I didn't buy one."
Pera will next play No. 20 Barbora Strycova, who beat Lara Arruabarrena 6-3, 6-4.
Also advancing were No. 8 Caroline Garcia and No. 26 Agnieszka Radwanska, who next plays Hsieh.
Lauren Davis beat Andrea Petkovic 4-6, 6-0, 6-0 and has a potential third-round match against top-ranked Simona Halep, who was playing Eugenie Bouchard later Thursday.
Former No. 1-ranked Karolina Pliskova advanced to a third-round match against No. 29 Lucie Safarova.
Sam Querrey was the latest of the leading U.S. men eliminated when he lost his second-round match 6-4, 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-2 to 80th-ranked Marton Fucsovics. No. 8 Jack Sock and No. 16 John Isner went out in the first round.
The 13th-seeded Querrey was one of 10 American players — men and women — to reach the second round from the 32 who started the main draws.
No. 5 Dominic Thiem rallied from two sets down to defeat 190th-ranked American qualifier Denis Kudla 6-7 (6), 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3. No. 21 Albert Ramos beat another American, wild-card entry Tim Smyczek 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (2).
No. 19 Tomas Berdych beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in four sets.
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