MELBOURNE -- Angelique Kerber won a battle of former Australian Open champions as she routed Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-3 in the third round on Saturday at the event she won in 2016.
Kerber is fighting back from a miserable 2017 in which she lost the top ranking, as she raised her 2018 season record to 12-0.
Top seed Simona Halep meanwhile struggled for almost three and three-quarter hours to win the co-longest women's match in tournament history over American Lauren Davis 4-6, 6-4, 15-13.
The battle lasted 48 games, which ties with the record set at the event more than two decades ago.
Kerber, meanwhile, raced through the first set and decided the match with a break for 5-3, serving out the match in the next game.
"I have so many great memories form this court," the 30-year-old German said. "It's so special for me. I knew the match would be tough, she's a champion and has been playing well.
"I'm just glad we have 2018 instead of 2017 right now. I learned a lot in the past 24 months, especially since last year was so tough for me.
"But I never give up, I'm always coming back."
Halep, who has yet to win her first Grand Slam title, claimed a hard-fought victory as she served for the match for a fourth time against an opponent who twice was treated in the final set as toenails fell off from each of her feet.
The last set lasted for an amazing two hours, 20 minutes, with Halep saving three match points in the 22nd game to hold for 11-11.