But 2014 Melbourne victor Wawrinka showed that he still needs more recovery time after his summer knee operation, falling to American Tennys Sandgren 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 in 88 minutes with 35 unforced errors.
Kerber has started this year well, though, and was in imperious form to defeat Sharapova 6-1 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena.
“I know there’s nothing that can replicate playing tournaments and playing matches, no matter what you do, no matter how you train, no matter how you practice”, she said.
Kerber had warmed up to the tournament in the best of manner with win in Sydney International and Kerber has brought the same confidence and power to the Melbourne Park.
The final set lasted two hours and 22 minutes while the 48 games for the entire match equals the most for a women’s encounter in Australian Open history, tying the 1996 quarter-final between Chanda Rubin Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, which Rubin won 6-4, 2-6, 16-14.
Sharapova finally got on the board, but flawless Kerber was finding winners nearly at will and broke again to take a 4-1 advantage in just 23 minutes.
Without much trouble, Kerber strolled throught the first set, where Sharapova could hold just one serve.
In the second set, Sharapova was broken while serving for the match, sending it to the tiebreaker which she dominated.
A double fault followed by a sloppy backhand way beyond the baseline handed Kerber a 2-0 lead. However, with the score level at 2-2 in the opening set, the Serb moved up a gear, winning four games in succession to take the set.
But Kerber’s relentless accuracy finally told at 4-3 in the second. Del Potro has won 5 from 8 against the Czech.
Federer will take on Marton Fucsovics in the fourth round.
The Swiss legend broke Gasquet’s serve five times and hit 42 winners with 30 unforced errors.
“There’s a lot of things I need to improve on”, she said.
Monfils also argued with the chair official that he should scrap that rule that requires players to serve within 25 seconds.
“Feels so great to be back here”.
He added: “I knew I wanted to use the medical timeout because I needed it, but at the same time I knew it was nothing major that can potentially raise the question mark on whether I can continue playing or not”.
Halep has been travelling under the radar somewhat at Melbourne Park as she works her way towards a maiden Grand Slam title.
Wimbledon victor Garbine Muguruza, defending champion Roger Federer and six-time Australian victor Novak Djokovic were also scheduled to play their second-round matches Thursday.
BC-TEN-Australian Open, 12th Ld-Writethru, 888 Kerber beats Sharapova in 3rd round; Halep in long-haul winAP Photo MEL443, MEL456, MEL538, MEL232, MEL518, MEL209, MEL126, MEL384, MEL378, MEL318Eds: Updates with late result, detail.
Among men through to the third round was Spains 21st seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who swept past American Tim Smyczek in straight sets.