MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Maria Sharapova went up to the cairn as if she was entering a bash. She had a black shell shell that fell to her waist and pantyhose that was shiny and chic.
"I'm not pulling them too often," she shouted to an inclusive journalist referring to the top. "I'm really happy."
Known for his lush reserve in court, Sharapova was on Friday after sending the reigning champion and No. 3 Caroline Wozniacki, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, in a third round match.
Wozniacki, who is friends with the other women on the trip, and Sharapova, who keeps his competitors at arm's length, are once Australian open winners and full-time opponents. Their adjoining personalities do not take into account why they approached every point in the 2-hour, 24-minute slugfest as if they were playing for the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup instead of a 1
At this tournament In 2016, Sharapova, the 2008 champion from Russia, tested positive for meldonium, which had recently been added to the sports list of banned substances. Sharapova, who maintained that she was not aware of the change in substance status, received a two-year ban, which was later reduced to 15 months.
When Sharapova returned to the competition in 2017, many players, including Wozniacki in Denmark, were critical of her receiving wild cards and other forms of what they considered preferential treatment. This year, the animus between the couple in the United States Open after Sharapova played another round match at Arthur Ashe Stadium, while the much higher grafted Wozniacki was referred on the same day to an outside court where she lost.  In an interview subsequently with a Danish newspaper, Wozniacki questioned putting "someone coming back from a drug sentence" as she formulated it on the main show. "I think it's not a good example," she said.
When Wozniacki's comments were later forwarded to her, Sharapova said she was not playing because everything she was worried about was still in the tournament. Without mentioning Wozniacki by name, she added: "I'm not sure where she is."
Friday's match at Rod Laver Arena was the 11th competition meeting between Wozniacki and Sharapova, which has a 7-4 edge. But it was the first time they played since Sharapova's suspension.
"It was definitely a fight I was looking forward to when the drawing came out," said Sharapova, who, incidentally, avoided looking at Wozniacki – and vice versa – during pre-match coin throws.
But when they returned to the net almost three hours later to the handshake, they got eye contact, two fighters to the born battle. Wozniacki's strength strengthens balls from the baseline until her opponent flashes and she commits to Sharapova in 23 collections with at least nine shots. Sharapova won 17 of these points, including a 23-shot rally in the eighth game of the first set.
"These are the collections I think many years ago she used to win," Sharapova said. "I thought I did a good job of getting a higher percentage of victories in them."
Wozniacki had a forehand winner in the first two sets (for Sharapova's 17) and won in the second set despite only hitting a winner's backhand.
"You know I did my best out there," said Wozniacki. "I fought to the end."
Even when Wozniacki raced out to a 4-1 lead in the first set, she seemed to be long on nap and laugh but short on gas. One of her other servants was clocked at 73 m.p. – and returned to her at 82 mph
Wozniacki, 28, was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis before last year's US Open, and Friday's weather containing rain and some thunder and lightning produced perfect conditions for a flare up. In Wozniacki & # 39; s post-match news conference, a reporter who identified himself as a rheumatoid arthritis sufferer said she had been in a little discomfort due to the weather and asked Wozniacki about her level of pain.
"I'm OK," said Wozniacki and added, "surely won't blame it on anything else. You know she was just a little better than me today. And it really was."
Wozniacki returning to the top of the women's world rankings with his win last year, will fall out of the top five when the new rankings come out after the tournament's conclusion. She was asked if Friday's defeat came somewhat less because she would forever be known as a great master.
"I am a competitor," said Wozniacki, adding: "I hate losing more than I love to win. Of course you sit here and you're a little sad. But you know it drives you."  The 31-year-old Sharapova regularly raises questions about her motivation. Her 2018 season ended early, in September, after her surgically repaired right shoulder began to give her passports. According to Forbes, Sharapova, a five-hour winner who has completed his Grand Slam career, has earned more than $ 280 million in his career. Why does she continue with the constant journey and daily grind?
The answer is simple, said Sharapova: For days like this.
"I felt very much at the moment," she said. "I felt there."
Sharapova added: "Being in the gate of things and really having to figure out a way to be at the top is what I missed."