Maria is through to the second week of the Australian Open in Melbourne after she defeated defending champion and No.3 seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.
Maria won 6-4 4-6 6-3 in two hours and 24 minutes to advance to the fourth round.
In the first set, Maria went down 1-4, but regrouped and got the set back on serve in the seventh game when Wozniacki double-faulted. A netted backhand gave Maria another break to lead 5-4 and she stepped up to serve in the next game as a forehand winner on set point gave Maria the set 6-4 in 50 minutes.
The roof was closed on Rod Laver Arena at the beginning of the second set due to impending rain. Wozniacki got an early break to lead 3-0. Maria got the set back on serve in the fifth game when she broke her opponent but Wozniacki won three of the next five games to win the set 6-4.
Neither player gave anything away in the final set until Maria broke in the seventh game with a pounding forehand winner to lead 4-3. Maria consolidated the break in the next game and broke Wozniacki to take the set 6-3 for her seventh win over the Dane.
In her on court interview after the match, Maria said:
“I thought the level was quite high. I knew I was going to get a tough match. I haven’t played many matches in the last year, especially against top players. These are the matches you train for.”
In Sunday’s fourth round match, Maria will face No.15 seed Ashleigh Barty of Australia. Maria has played the 22-year-old once before last year in the 1st round in Rome and won 7-5 3-6 6-2.
On playing Barty, Maria said in her on court interview:
“I think her story is phenomenal. She loves playing here. I know she took a little break and came back and resurged and is doing incredibly well. I know it’s going to be a tough crowd, but I go out here and perform and play tennis. I love the opportunity.”