Wozniacki enjoyed status as defending champion in Melbourne

Caroline Wozniacki enjoyed returning to the Australian Open as defending champion and would not attribute her early exit to the increased pressure.

The Dane won her first grand slam title when she defeated Simona Halep in the Melbourne final in 2018, but she was unable to defend her crown 12 months later.

Wozniacki departed in the third round as five-time major champion Maria Sharapova emerged a 6-4 4-6 6-3 winner to book her place in the last 16.

Yet the beaten third seed was not looking for excuses as she fronted up after defeat, insisting she gave her best but endured a tough day on court.

"I actually didn't find [playing as defending champion] hard at all," Wozniacki told a news conference. "I find it kind of pleasurable. It was nice and exciting. I think it was great.

"You know, in tennis, you're one on one, and you battle and you do your best. One day you win; some days you lose.

"As long as you give it your all out there, as long as I fought for every point and was really trying to do everything in my power to win, I can't really blame myself for anything.

"I'm sitting here and, of course, I'm disappointed that I'm not through to the fourth round. I wish I was. But I can't be too hard on myself with what I got today. I did what I could."

Meanwhile, Sharapova enjoyed the challenge of facing one of the world's top players on the grand slam stage, having found opportunities limited since her return from a drugs ban in 2017.

"I felt very much in the moment. I felt present," she said. "I was anticipating the match and I wanted that match to happen and these are really the types of match-ups that I haven't really had where I could really challenge myself.

"Even if it was a bad result or an easy two-set loss, to be in the grind of things and to really have to figure out a way to be on top is what I missed. I didn't really get many of those chances.

"I think maybe Halep, a year and a half ago, at the US Open was where I was challenged like that. And I can think of maybe one or two other matches.

"I think you learn a lot and, when you put yourself in those positions and you get through, those are great, great victories."

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