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Aus Open PIX: Djokovic fights back; Jabeur knocked out

Last updated on: January 19, 2023 23:13 IST

Images from Thursday, Day 4 of the 2023 Australian Open, at Melbourne Park.

Djokovic comes through Couacaud test

Novak Djokovic celebrates match point

IMAGE: Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates a point during his second round match against France's Enzo Couacaud. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters

Novak Djokovic had to dig deep at times against French qualifier Enzo Couacaud but rolled into the third round 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-0 on Thursday to continue his quest for a 10th Australian Open crown and a 22nd Grand Slam title.

The Serbian looked at his imperious best as he eased through the opening set but hit a roadblock in the 74-minute second when world number 191 Couacaud upped his pace and intensity to level up the contest in a tiebreak.


Fourth seed Djokovic changed his shirt and brought in the heavy artillery to whip through the final two sets on Rod Laver Arena and set up a third-round date with Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov.

The 35-year-old took a medical time out to change the strapping on his left thigh in the second set but otherwise appeared largely unhindered by the hamstring niggle he sustained at a warm-up tournament in Adelaide two weeks ago.

Second seed Jabeur sent packing by Vondrousova in second round

Tunisia's Ons Jabeur is a picture of frustration during her second round loss to Vondrousova on Thursday

IMAGE: Tunisia's Ons Jabeur is a picture of frustration during her second round loss to Czech Republic's Marketa Vondrousova. Photograph: Jaimi Joy/Reuters

Second seed Ons Jabeur crashed out of the second round of the Australian Open after an error-strewn display in a 6-1, 5-7, 6-1 loss to former French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova on Thursday.

The Tunisian, who stormed up the rankings last year after runs to the final at Wimbledon and the US Open, sprayed 50 unforced errors and had her serve broken eight times in the 102 minute contest.

There were only flashes of the brilliant racket skills that have made her such a favourite on the WTA tour in the second set as Vondrousova calmly made the most of her erratic play on a chilly night on Rod Laver Arena.

Jabeur saved some face by breaking the Olympic silver medallist when she was serving for the match for the first time but Vondrousova broke straight back to clinch the victory.

Vondrousova is on the comeback trail after another of the wrist injuries that have plagued her career wiped out six months of her season last year and saw her drop to 86th in the world.

"It was very tough," she said.

"Also, it was very late, so I think we were both very tired. I'm just very happy that I stayed focused and stayed in the match.

"I'm just very happy to get the win. Yeah, just stay alive."

Vondrousova moves on to a third-round meeting with 17-year-old fellow Czech Linda Fruhvirtova.

Jabeur, who was hoping to become the first African woman and the first Arab to win a Grand Slam singles title, collapsed in tears after leaving the court.

Jenson Brooksby delivers Ruud shock

Jenson Brooksby of the United States celebrates winning his Australian Open second round match against Norway's Casper Ruud at Melbourne Park on Thursday.

IMAGE: Jenson Brooksby of the United States celebrates winning his Australian Open second round match against Norway's Casper Ruud at the Australian Open on Thursday. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters

American Jenson Brooksby knocked second seed Casper Ruud out of the Australian Open on Thursday with a 6-3, 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-2 victory, extinguishing the Norwegian's hopes of winning a first Grand Slam title and topping the world rankings.

Two breaks of serve in the opening set of the second-round match handed Brooksby the early lead and he dictated terms in the second to raise the prospect of another big upset by a Californian after Mackenzie McDonald beat defending champion Rafael Nadal.

The 24-year-old Ruud, twice a runner-up in Grand Slams last year, saved three match-points before winning the third set in a tie-break as Brooksby began to feel the pressure but the American regained his composure in the fourth to complete the win.

"Casper's a warrior, I knew it'd be a great battle out there. I was pretty confident with my level and just wanted to have fun out there and see what could happen," Brooksby, 22, said in his on-court interview.

"I was really proud of my mental resolve out there after the third-set battle didn't go my way to turn it around.

"Last year, I had COVID, the day before I was due to fly out, and that sucked. But hopefully this is the first of many years to come."

Up next for Brooksby, who is making his Australian Open debut this year after withdrawing in 2022 due to illness, is compatriot Tommy Paul following his five-set victory over Spanish 30th seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

American Mmoh in dreamland after lucky break

USA's Michael Mmoh celebrates winning his second round match against Germany's Alexander Zverev

IMAGE: USA's Michael Mmoh celebrates winning his second round match against Germany's Alexander Zverev. Photograph: Hannah Mckay/Reuters

American Michael Mmoh is afraid he will wake up and realise his run to the Australian Open third round was just a dream.

Two days ago the 25-year-old American was watching an NFL game on TV in his hotel and ready to head to the airport after losing in qualifying and having what he considered 'zero' chance of playing in the first round.

But fate stepped in and injuries to other players meant the world's 109th ranked player got a late call-up and on Thursday he followed up a win against French qualifier Laurent Lokoli by knocking out Germany's 12th seed Alexander Zverev.

"I don't know if I'm going to finally wake up or something. It just doesn't seem real," Mmoh, who has never previously surpassed the second round at a Grand Slam, told reporters.

"The past 48 hours has been a complete whirlwind from going from being ready to go back home, booking a flight, packing my bags. I was supposed to leave yesterday.

"Now I'm here, and I just had the best win of my career. It just doesn't seem real."

Germany's Alexander Zverev during his second round match against USA's Michael Mmoh. 

IMAGE: Germany's Alexander Zverev during his second round match against USA's Michael Mmoh. Photograph: Mike Frey-USA TODAY Sports

Asked how events had transpired in his favour, Mmoh explained: "I was talking to my fiancee, you know, she was like, why don't you fly out tonight?

"I was in the middle of watching the Bucs and Cowboys. I was fully locked in on that game.

"Then all of a sudden I got a call from the ATP guy. I have never answered a phone call so fast in my life. First ring, and I was on it. He was, like, yeah, you're next on court 13."

Having gathered his kit together and raced to Melbourne Park for his match against Lokoli, Mmoh might have been content with his fortune. Instead he has milked it to the maximum.

He lost the first set against former world number two Zverev on a tiebreak but hit back to win 6-7(1) 6-4, 6-3, 6-2, setting up a third round clash against fellow American J.J Wolf.

"I don't think I'm ever going to say I'm an unlucky person for the rest of my life," Mmoh said.

Mmoh is part of an American men's charge in Melbourne with eight of them through to the last 32, including Jenson Brooksby who took out second seed Casper Ruud on Thursday.

He said a chat with compatriot Frances Tiafoe before his clash with Zverev had given him belief.

"He told me, like, you're going to be in a position to win this match. It's just, are you going to seize the moment?

"I wanted to make sure that I did do that once I got in that position."

His unexpected run in Melbourne means Mmoh will have to wait a little longer to be with his fiancee, to whom he proposed shortly before leaving for Australia.

"We definitely have got to celebrate that moment together when we're back, along with the engagement," he said.

Qualifier Volynets stuns 9th seed Kudermetova

Katie Volynets of the United States celebrates winning her second round match against Russia's Veronika Kudermetova at the Australian Open on Thursday.

IMAGE: Katie Volynets of the United States is all smiles after toppling Russia's Veronika Kudermetova. Photograph: Hannah Mckay/Reuters

Earlier, qualifier Katie Volynets stunned ninth seed Veronika Kudermetova 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 to storm into the third round and continue the good start for American players at the year's opening Grand Slam.

In only her sixth main draw appearance at a Grand Slam, the world number 113 is the first US qualifier to reach the third round in women's singles at Melbourne Park since three-times major winner Lindsay Davenport in 1993.

The 21-year-old she had the "chills" after grinding out the biggest victory of her career in her first match against a top-10 player.

"Suddenly, you get match-point and it's like 'wow I've got match-point against the ninth seed'," Volynets said in her on-court interview.

"You just start going for it and let whatever happens happen.

"I've never played in a stadium this packed and that many people keeping the energy up for me. So that's awesome."

Volynets's win comes a day after fellow-American Mackenzie McDonald sent champion Rafael Nadal crashing out and the likes of Jessica Pegula, Madison Keys and Frances Tiafoe all scored victories.

Volynets will next meet either China's Zhang Shuai or Croatian Petra Martic for a place in the fourth round.

Sabalenka powers past Shelby Rogers

Belarus's Aryna Sabalenka in action during her second round match against Shelby Rogers of the United States.

IMAGE: Belarus's Aryna Sabalenka in action during her second round match against Shelby Rogers of the United States. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters

Aryna Sabalenka shook off a slow start to power past American Shelby Rogers 6-3, 6-1 and move into the third round, as normal service resumed at the season's first Grand Slam after two days interrupted by heat and rain.

World number five Sabalenka, who warmed up for Melbourne Park by winning the Adelaide title, mowed down Tereza Martincova in her opener but struggled for rhythm in the opening exchanges with Rogers, dropping serve early in the first set.

The Belarusian soon hit her stride, however, and powered past the American to close out the match and stay unbeaten in six matches this year.

The home crowd rose to acknowledge the retiring Sam Stosur, who lost in the first round of the women's doubles with Alize Cornet. The 38-year-old major winner still has the mixed doubles to come, where she will partner Matt Ebden.

Chardy drops the ball, fumes at chair umpire during defeat

France's Jeremy Chardy argues with chair umpire Miriam Bley during his match against Great Britain's Daniel Evans.

IMAGE: France's Jeremy Chardy argues with chair umpire Miriam Bley during his match against Great Britain's Daniel Evans. Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Jeremy Chardy lost a bizarre point and with it, his cool, at the Australian Open. The furious Frenchman accused the chair umpire of lying during his 6-4, 6-4, 6-1 second-round defeat by Briton Dan Evans.

Facing a break point in the opening set a ball dropped out of Chardy's pocket midway through a rally and the Frenchman put a forehand into the net with his next shot to lose the point.

Chardy immediately appealed to the chair umpire but Miriam Bley ruled that the point would not be replayed, with Evans pointing out that he neither saw the ball drop out of the pocket nor did he complain about it.

Chardy then unloaded.

"We play with someone who cannot umpire," Chardy said. "In my life, 20 years I've never had one umpire bad like you. Where are you looking? You looking at the birds? The clouds?

"It's the biggest mistake of the Australian Open. There's not one umpire on tour that does this mistake, not one."

He then called for a supervisor and said: "If you don't confirm that I called let, I lose all respect for you. She's lying. Can she have a fine? When we do something bad we are fined, can she have a fine?"

Evans, who next faces Andrey Rublev or Emil Ruusuvuori in the third round, did not have much sympathy for Chardy.

"I think the rule should be if a ball comes out of your pocket, you lose the point," he said. "He missed the ball.

"If a ball comes out your pocket, it's your own fault."

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