Caroline Wozniacki's title defence came to an end to Russia's Maria Sharapova ©Getty Images

Caroline Wozniacki’s Australian Open title defence came to an end in the third round as the Danish star suffered a three-set defeat to Russia’s Maria Sharapova in Melbourne.

The tie was viewed as one of the most high-profile clashes of the round, with 2008 winner Sharapova posing a major threat to Wozniacki’s chances.

Sharapova, who has had mixed results since returning from a doping ban in 2017, showed impressive form during the first set.

She took the opener 6-4 at the Rod Laver Arena but Wozniacki responded by winning the second by the same score.

The Dane was unable to maintain the momentum, with Sharapova breaking in the decider to ultimately secure a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 success.

Sharapova will now face Ashleigh Barty after the home favourite won 7-5, 6-1 against Greece’s Maria Sakkari.

Tournament second seed Angelique Kerber cruised into the fourth round of the competition as the German overcame Australian wildcard Kimberly Birrell 6-1, 6-0.

Second seed Angelique Kerber marked her 31st birthday with a third-round victory ©Getty Images
Second seed Angelique Kerber marked her 31st birthday with a third-round victory ©Getty Images

The comfortable victory was a perfect way for the 2016 champion to mark her 31st birthday.

Her next opponent will be Danielle Collins after the American beat France’s Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-2.

Roger Federer, the defending men’s champion, also enjoyed a comfortable victory on Rod Laver Arena.

The Swiss star secured a 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 victory over the United States’ Taylor Fritz.

The 37-year-old will now face the challenge of rising Greek player Stefanos Tsitsipas, who advanced to the fourth round for the first time.

Tsitsipas progressed in four sets against Nikoloz Basilashvili, with the 20-year-old beating his Georgian opponent 6-3, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4.

Second seed Rafael Nadal proved untroubled by Australia’s Alex de Minaur as the Spaniard secured a straight sets 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win.

He now faces two-time Australian Open semi-finalist Tomáš Berdych.

The Czech player came from a set down to beat Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 to advance.