MELBOURNE (Reuters) - A string of upsets has left the Australian Open women’s draw without several of the pre-tournament favorites but while that may have eased Angelique Kerber’s path to a potential second Melbourne crown the German is taking nothing for granted.
Kerber beat Italian Camila Giorgi 6-2 6-7(4) 6-3 on Saturday to move on to the fourth round, where she will meet Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who sent second seed Karolina Pliskova spinning out of the tournament.
Sixth seed Belinda Bencic also exited in the third round on Saturday, falling to the same fate as former world number ones and Australian Open champions Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki.
Three-times Grand Slam champion Kerber, who won the Melbourne Park title in 2016, said she was only keeping an eye on who her next opponent was.
“I’m not looking too far ahead, to be honest. I’m just focusing on my matches, on my opponents, and on me,” Kerber told reporters.
“You never know. You have to be ready for every single round. You have always surprises during Grand Slams.”
Kerber, seeded 17th, survived a grinding encounter against 102nd-ranked Giorgi to make the fourth round for the fifth straight year.
She was barely troubled in the first set as the erratic Giorgi served up eight double faults and 20 unforced errors.
However, Giorgi cut out the misfires and dialed in her groundstrokes in the second set, striking a forehand winner in the tie-break to level the match.
The third set was a closely fought affair as the pair traded breaks midway but the Italian was unable to keep up with Kerber, who secured a second break to go up 5-3 before serving out the victory.
“I’m happy to be in the second week... I’m trying to staying focused, trying to keep going and playing from round to round better tennis,” said Kerber.
“And it’s good to (win) a match like today which was really close.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford