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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

French Open: Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova set up fourth round showdown

Russian former world No 1 needed less than an hour to beat the Czech sixth seed and book her place in the fourth round

Maria Sharapova celebrates after winning her French Open third round match against Karolina Pliskova. Christian Hartmann / Reuters
Maria Sharapova celebrates after winning her French Open third round match against Karolina Pliskova. Christian Hartmann / Reuters

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova will meet in the last-16 of the French Open after both former champions eased through their third round matches on Saturday.

Two-time champion Sharapova thrashed sixth seed Karolina Pliskova in the afternoon, before Williams eliminated German 11th seed Julian Goerges in the day's final match.

Sharapova, 30, needed just 59 minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier to emerge victorious 6-2, 6-1 against an out-of-sorts Pliskova.

And while Williams was pushed a little harder by Goerges, the American never looked troubled en route to a 6-3, 6-4 win.

Sharapova and Williams have met 21 times, with the American leading the head-to-head record 19-2 after 18 consecutive wins dating back to 2004.

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Sharapova, who was absent from Roland Garros for the past two years due to a 15-month doping suspension and the tournaments subsequent refusal to give her a wildcard, put in her best performance of the tournament so far.

"I knew I had to play well against a tough opponent. I managed to stay aggressive and I played smart as well," said Sharapova, who delighted a half-full stadium by thanking them for their support in French.

The Russian, winner in Paris in 2012 and 2014, is seeded at a major for the first time since testing positive for meldonium two years ago. She hit 18 winners past her fellow former world No 1 Pliskova, with the Czech never threatening any resistance having broken in the first game of the match.

Garbine Muguruza is also safely through to the fourth round after destroying Australia's Sam Stosur 6-0, 6-2 in one and three minutes.

The Spanish third seed, who won the title in 2016, will take on Lesia Tsurenko for a place in the quarter-finals after the Ukrainian came through a 6-2, 6-4 winner over Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova.

The big upset of the day saw Czech eighth seed Petra Kvitova eliminated from the tournament by Estonia's Anett Kontaveit.

Kvitova, who entered the third round contest an a 13-match winning run, fell short in both tie-breaks as Kontaveit booked her place in the fourth round 7-6, 7-6. She will face American Sloane Stephens after the 10th seed edged past Italy's Camila Giorgi 6-4, 6-1, 8-6.

Top seed Simona Halep had few troubles in her third round match against Germany's Andrea Petkovic as the 26-year-old Romanian edged a tight first set before claiming a 7-5, 6-0 win.

Halep, seeking to reach her third French Open title, takes on Belgian 16th seed Elise Mertens, who booked her place in the last-16 with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Australia's Daria Gavrilova.