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Aus Open PIX: Djokovic, Serena, Thiem through to Round 3

Last updated on: February 10, 2021 19:47 IST
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Images from Day 3 of the Australian Open in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Novak Djokovic

IMAGE: Novak Djokovic celebrates winning a point during his second round match against Frances Tiafoe at the Australian Open on Wednesday. Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic's aura of invincibility at Rod Laver Arena wavered under the pressure of Frances Tiafoe on Wednesday but the Serbian rose to the challenge to claim a tough 6-3, 6-7(3), 7-6(2), 6-3 win and reach the third round of the Australian Open.

The double-defending champion has rarely been tested so early at his favourite Grand Slam but he had his hands full against American Tiafoe, whose sparkling tennis revived memories of his exhilarating run to the 2019 quarter-finals.

"Very tough match," said a relieved Djokovic on court, his voice faint and hoarse from the battle.

"Also difficult conditions. While we had sun on the court it was very, very warm.

"I want to give a hand to Frances again for a great fight. It was a fantastic match.

"If I have to choose obviously I would like to have these kinds of matches in the opening week."

Novak Djokovic

IMAGE: Novak Djokovic plays a forehand during his second round match. Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Tiafoe went toe-to-toe with the top seed on a hot and humid afternoon but it all fell apart at 3-3 in the final set when the American grew frustrated by the service clock.

He was docked a serve and then broken after a foul-mouthed tirade at the chair umpire.

He continued grumbling at the change of ends, complaining there was no time to wipe down with a towel and fire down a serve.

Due to social distancing restrictions, players have to pick up their towels rather than have them handed to them by a ballkid.

Tiafoe earned a code violation for an audible obscenity before bowing out with a double-fault on match point.

Djokovic is unbeaten on the Melbourne Park centre court since an injury-hampered fourth round defeat to South Korea's Chung Hyeon in the 2018 tournament.

"When you win a lot on a certain court you feel more comfortable and confident," said the Serb, who is bidding for a record-extending ninth title at Melbourne Park and 18th Grand Slam crown in total.

"It feels right, it feels like my living room here. It's only I'm not sitting on a couch."

Serena sweeps into third round

Serena Williams

IMAGE: Serena Williams needed to find her best game at times in the first set against a Serbian 15 years her junior who was playing in her fourth Grand Slam. Photograph: Matt King/Getty Images

Serena Williams overcame a spirited Nina Stojanovic 6-3, 6-0 on a sun-drenched Rod Laver Arena to reach the third round of the Australian Open for the 19th time on Wednesday.

The American, again sporting her distinctive one-legged leotard, needed to find her best game at times in the first set against a Serbian 15 years her junior who was playing in her fourth Grand Slam.

Williams has won seven major titles at Melbourne Park alone, of course, and ramped up her serve to see off the danger before putting the pressure back on her opponent with some booming service returns.

"She pushed me really hard and played well throughout the match," the 39-year-old said.

"I wasn’t thinking so much in the second set."

The second set was one-way traffic and Williams fired down her sixth ace of the contest to seal a date with Anastasia Potapova, taking another step on the path she hopes will end with a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title.

Second seed Halep survives huge scare to advance

Romania's Simona Halep is relieved after winning her women's singles second round match against Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic.

IMAGE: Romania's Simona Halep is relieved after winning her women's singles second round match against Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Romanian second seed Simona Halep won five consecutive games to come back from the brink to defeat local hope Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 in an error-strewn match to advance to the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday.

Twice Grand Slam winner Halep came into the match with a 3-0 career record against the 27-year-old Australian, ranked 72nd, but found it difficult to pave a way past Tomljanovic's all-or-nothing approach in front of a boisterous Melbourne Court Arena.

After sharing the honours in the first two sets, Tomljanovic surged ahead with a break and a 5-2 lead in the decider only for former world number one Halep to stage a stunning comeback by winning the next five games.

The match saw the players commit over 90 unforced errors and the 29-year-old Romanian put an end to the contest by converting her second match point with a forehand winner.

Kyrgios survives two match points to clinch five-set thriller

Australia's Nick Kyrgios in action during his second round match against France's Ugo Humbert

IMAGE: Australia's Nick Kyrgios in action during his second round match against France's Ugo Humbert. Photograph: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Reuters

Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios fought hard to snatch a win from the jaws of defeat at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

Kyrgios defeated France's Ugo Humbert 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 in a match that lasted for whooping 205 minutes. Kyrgios didn't have a great start as he lost the first set but sealed the second one comfortably. However, the Australian tennis star suffered a set back as Humbert thrashed him in the third set 3-6.

Kyrgios then survived two match points to stage an incredible comeback and won the match which went down to the wire.

Rock solid Osaka marches into third round

Japan's Naomi Osaka plays a backhand in her second round match against France's Caroline Garcia

IMAGE: Japan's Naomi Osaka plays a backhand in her second round match against France's Caroline Garcia. Photograph: Matt King/Getty Images

Naomi Osaka marched confidently into the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday, overpowering Caroline Garcia 6-2, 6-3 with a rock-solid performance at the Rod Laver Arena.

The Japanese third seed fired six aces at her French opponent in the first set and four in the second. Garcia was unable to muster up a single break point over the contest.

The 2019 Australian Open champion said she had started the match wary of the threat posed by Garcia, a former world number four now ranked 43rd.

"I needed to stay focused the whole match," said Osaka.

"She's a tricky player and you never know what she's going to come up with. Yes, just staying within myself."

Osaka lit up the court like a beacon in a fluro orange skirt as Garcia's cyan outfit all but disappeared into the blue background of the playing surface.

The showpiece court was only half full on the sort of balmy summer evening that in normal times would have guaranteed a full house given the talent on show.

Wary fans have stayed away as a small coronavirus outbreak linked to a hotel near Melbourne airport caused neighbouring South Australia state to shut its borders as of Wednesday night.

"Thank you for coming out," Osaka said to the crowd after the match.

"It really means a lot to us."

Osaka's post-match comments were the usual mix of pleasantries and personal -- "I'm just staying in my room watching Netflix" -- but there was nothing whimsical about her performance.

The 23-year-old found the corners with her shots as she fired 23 winners over the one-hour contest, wrapping up the victory with an emphatic 181 km per hour (121 mph) ace.

The U.S. Open champion, whose last defeat in a WTA tournament was to Coco Gauff in the third round at Melbourne Park last year, will next face Ons Jabeur.

"She's really funny and nice and I think the match I play against her will be really difficult, but I'm looking forward to it," she smiled.

 Thiem time at Melbourne Park as third seed eases through

Dominic Thiem

IMAGE: Dominic Thiem took 93 minutes to beat Dominik Koepfer and secure his place in the third round. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

US Open champion Dominic Thiem kept his time in the Melbourne sun to an absolute minimum on Wednesday, taking 93 minutes to beat Dominik Koepfer 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 and secure his place in the third round of the Australian Open.

The Austrian third seed had to tough it out at times in the opening set but took full control after that as his German opponent appeared to struggle in temperatures touching 30 degrees Celsius on Margaret Court Arena.

Thiem lost to Novak Djokovic in the Melbourne Park final last year and would have been hoping to conserve energy in the early rounds this week as he looks to dethrone the Serbian and clinch his second Grand Slam crown.

The 27-year-old booked a third-round date with Nick Kyrgios, who beat Ugo Humbert, when Koepfer went wide with a forehand for his 38th unforced error.

Zverev cruises past American qualifier Cressy into third round

Germany's Alexander Zverev in action during his second round match against American Maxime Cressy

IMAGE: Germany's Alexander Zverev in action during his second round match against American Maxime Cressy. Photograph: Loren Elliott

German sixth seed Alexander Zverev put in a clinical display to ease past American qualifier Maxime Cressy 7-5, 6-4, 6-3 into the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday.

The US Open finalist got a high percentage of first services in and never appeared to lose control against his fellow 23-year-old during the final match of the evening session on the Rod Laver Arena.

Zverev hit six more winners than Cressy, who is ranked 172nd, with 11 unforced errors to his opponent's 30, breaking the American's serve once in each of the first two sets and twice in the third.

He converted his second match point when Cressy found the net with his return to set up a meeting with 32nd-seeded Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, who earlier defeated Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.

Venus makes painful exit after rolling ankle

Venus Williams

IMAGE: Venus Williams started the match with a taped left knee and twisted her right ankle trying to play an approach shot while trailing 1-5 in the opening set. Photograph: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Venus Williams refused to give up after suffering an injury against Italian Sara Errani and fought through pain before bowing out of the Australian Open second round with a 6-1, 6-0 defeat on Wednesday.

The 40-year-old American, a seven-times Grand Slam winner and twice finalist at Melbourne Park, started the match with a taped left knee and twisted her right ankle trying to play an approach shot while trailing 1-5 in the opening set.

Williams shrieked in pain before hobbling to her chair to receive medical attention and a retirement looked imminent by the American.

But after receiving heavy strapping on her ankle and extra taping on the knee she returned to court amid wide applause from those present at the John Cain Arena.

Williams did not win another game with her movement severely hampered during the rest of the match as she hobbled between points with pain reflecting prominently on her face.

She left the court to another round of applause as qualifier Errani set up a third round clash against Taiwanese veteran Hsieh Su-wei, who defeated 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu 6-3 6-2 earlier.

Andreescu knocked out by crafty Hsieh

Su-Wei Hsieh

IMAGE: Su-Wei Hsieh of Chinese Taipei in action during her second round match against Bianca Andreescu. Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Bianca Andreescu's comeback after a 15-month absence from tennis ended abruptly in the second round of the Australian Open on Wednesday with a 6-3 6-2 defeat to wily Taiwanese veteran Hsieh Su-wei.

Eighth seed Andreescu, one of the 72 players unable to train during hard quarantine in the leadup, attacked with her typical abandon at Rod Laver Arena but found a brick wall in the form of the double-handed Hsieh, who drove the Canadian to distraction with her defence.

With no apparent plan B, Andreescu doubled down on the power game and the unforced errors piled up as she slumped to a 5-2 deficit in the second set.

Andreescu saved two match points on serve but bowed out meekly with a double-fault on the third as Hsieh advanced to a third round clash against Venus Williams or Sara Errani.

Kvitova sent packing by Cirstea

Sorana Cirstea

IMAGE: Sorana Cirstea celebrates winning her second round match against Petra Kvitova. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was sent packing from the Australian Open on Wednesday after a 6-4, 1-6, 6-1 second-round defeat by Romanian Sorana Cirstea.

Kvitova jumped out to a 2-0 lead but could not keep a lid on her errors as Cirstea converted each of her three breakpoint opportunities to claim the opening set.

Kvitova, who finished runner-up at Melbourne Park two years ago, showed glimpses of her powerful ball-striking as she raced to a 4-0 lead in the second set before levelling the match when Cirstea handed her a third break with a tame double fault.

Cirstea, however, turned the tables on the Czech in the final set and claimed victory on her third match point with Kvitova hitting a forehand long.

"I was one of the few in hard quarantine. I think it's impressive to come out of 15 days without hitting a ball and competing the way I did today, I wasn't expecting it," said Cirstea, who will next face Czech Marketa Vondrousova.

Wawrinka falls to fearless Fucsovics in five-set thriller

Marton Fucsovics

IMAGE: World number 55 Marton Fucsovics got the better of Stan Wawrinka in a five-set thriller. Photograph: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Hungarian Marton Fucsovics came through a five-set thriller against Stan Wawrinka on Wednesday, defeating the three-time Grand Slam champion 7-5 6-1 4-6 2-6 7-6(9) to reach the third round of the Australian Open.

Wawrinka, the 17th seed, was sloppy in the opening two sets, committing 29 unforced errors and landing just over 60% of his first serves.

The Swiss, however, rediscovered his touch in the third set as he broke Fucsovics in the opening game before taking control with a string of blistering backhands.

Fucsovics recovered in the final set and appeared to have secured a hard-fought win when he took a 5-3 lead but Wawrinka found another gear to draw level at 5-5 before forcing a final set tiebreaker.

Wawrinka, the 2014 winner at Melbourne Park, raced to 6-1 lead and gave himself three match points but Fucsovics clawed back with some fearless hitting to draw level at 9-9 and went on to seal victory in just under four hours on the John Cain Arena court.

"Right now, I feel like I'm dying," said world number 55 Fucsovics, who also needed five sets to beat Marc Polmans in the opening round.

"I've played two five setters and it's really hot. I knew he would come back, he's very strong mentally and physically. But I was very strong mentally and that was the most important thing."

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