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Aus Open PIX: Nadal, Federer, Wozniacki advance; seeds Anderson, Monfils, Bertens out

Last updated on: January 16, 2019 12:38 IST

IMAGES from the Australian Open matches played at Melbourne Park on Wednesday

Nadal spins way into third round with near flawless display

Rafael Nadal

IMAGE: Rafael Nadal plays a backhand during his second round match against Matthew Ebden of Australia. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal picked apart second round opponent Matthew Ebden 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 at the Australian Open on Wednesday, in a near flawless display of top-spinning artistry.

The second seed overcame an early first set challenge from the Australian, who should have secured a break-of-serve with the scores locked at 3-3.

Ebden missed a backhand volley off an unexceptional passing shot - and it proved costly.

The Australian was broken the next game, succumbing with a double-fault, and the Spaniard went through the broken line of defence, securing the set and an early break in the second.

"I started a little bit slow ... then I saved that game at three-all," Nadal said.

"After that, things changed. I think I played well."

Sensing an early end to the proceedings, the crowd tried to lift one of its few remaining local hopes, while at the same time being dazzled by the Spaniard's control of the court.

The 17-time Grand Slam winner was never seriously challenged again, and the third set became an exhibition match.

At one stage, Ebden simply shrugged after Nadal unleashed a wild forehand winner that was yet completely under control.

Nadal, who showed no signs of discomfort from a thigh strain that troubled him ahead of the first major of the year, will play Alex de Minaur in the third round, marking his third consecutive match against an Australian.

Federer fends off British 'mirror' Evans to advance

Switzerland's Roger Federer plays a backhand in his second round match against Great Britain's Daniel Evans 

IMAGE: Switzerland's Roger Federer plays a backhand in his second round match against Great Britain's Daniel Evans. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Double defending champion Roger Federer weathered a stern test from the impressive Dan Evans and paid the British battler the ultimate compliment after prevailing 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3), 6-3 to reach the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday.

Having thrashed Denis Istomin in his MelbournePark opener, third seed Federer faced a different beast in world number 189 Evans, who made a mockery of his ranking and pushed the Swiss hard throughout a high-quality duel at Rod Laver Arena.

"It feels like playing a mirror a little bit and that was my mindset going in," 20-times Grand Slam champion Federer said of qualifier Evans, who is rebuilding his career after serving a year-long drug ban.

"He has a lot of slice and more serve and volley, my size can help me a bit more."

Showcasing a sturdy defence and counter-punching gamely, Evans broke Federer for the first time in the tournament, dragging the former world number one into a second tiebreak to cheer British fans after Andy Murray's first round elimination.

But the Birmingham man lacked the edge in the clutch points while Federer was clinical.

He broke Evans in the fourth game of the third set and served out the match to love, sealing the win with an imperious backhand winner down the line.

"He was feeling it today, I thought," said Federer, who will play Taylor Fritz for a place in the fourth round.

"He was very sort of cat and mouse a bit. Very interesting. I liked the match. I thought he was playing well. It was enjoyable."

Evans sparkled in a run to the fourth round at the 2017 tournament but missed last year's action at MelbournePark, after testing positive for cocaine at the Barcelona Open.

Britain's Dan Evans plays a backhand return during his match against Switzerland's Roger Federer 

IMAGE: Britain's Dan Evans plays a backhand return during his match against Switzerland's Roger Federer. Photograph: Edgar Su/Reuters

He entered Rod Laver Arena for his Federer match-up to a soundtrack of Blur's Britpop anthem "Parklife".

There was nothing hazy about his game, however, as he attacked the lines with abandon and rushed the net with conviction.

He saved a set point at 6-5 with a punchy backhand volley down the line and had Federer on the ropes in the tiebreak.

But instead of volleying into an open court to prise a set point off the Swiss, he pushed the forehand well wide.

Reprieved, Federer took full advantage and closed out the set when a scrambling Evans missed a desperate backhand passing short.

The Briton was clearly gutted by the lost chance and promptly threw away his next service game in the second set while still in a funk.

Yet he regathered his wits quickly.

He battled to save two set points at 5-3 down and then broke back to 5-5, outpointing Federer with an elegant one-handed backhand passing shot that the former world number one would have been proud to call his own.

Once again, Federer lifted in the tiebreak, bringing up three set points in a trice and converting the first with an ace.

From there it was a formality for one of the game's most ruthless front-runners as Federer cruised to victory to keep his bid for a hat-trick of Melbourne titles alive.

Fifth seed Anderson crashes out

South Africa's Kevin Anderson reacts during his 2nd round match against USA's Frances Tiafoe

IMAGE: South Africa's Kevin Anderson reacts during his 2nd round match against USA's Frances Tiafoe. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Australian Open fifth seed Kevin Anderson lost his second round match to Frances Tiafoe 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in a major upset on the third day of the Grand Slam on Wednesday.

 

The Wimbledon finalist took a medical time-out mid-way through the four-set match before becoming the highest ranked player to be ousted from the first major of the year.

After sealing match point against the South African, Tiafoe slapped his right bicep, thumped his chest and roared at the terraces.

USA's Frances Tiafoe reurns against South Africa's Kevin Anderson 

IMAGE: USA's Frances Tiafoe reurns against South Africa's Kevin Anderson. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

"It means the world to me, I lost to Kevin three times last year. I would love to get to the second week of a Slam and if you guys get behind me like you did again, then it's going to be pretty easy for me," Tiafoe said.

American Tiafoe, ranked 39 in the world, will play Italy's Andreas Seppi in the third round, which will at least equal his best performance at a Grand Slam, having made the third round of Wimbledon last year.

Frenchman Monfils goes down to American Fritz

Another seed fell by the wayside at the Australian Open when 30th seed Gael Monfils lost to American Taylor Fritz 3-6, 7-6, 6-7, 6-7 in the 2nd round.
Fritz will face compatriot Tiafoe in the 3rd round.

Kerber wins battle of left-handers to progress to third round

Angelique Kerber

IMAGE: Kerber set up a clash against Aussie Kim Birrell. Photograph: Australian Open/Twitter

Second seeded German Angelique Kerber easily won the battle of left-handers against big-hitting Brazilian qualifier Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-2, 6-3 to stroll into the third round of the Australian Open.

The Wimbledon champion broke the 22-year-old Haddad Maia twice in the opening set and converted her first set point when the Brazilian sent a forehand wide for her 29th unforced error in the set.

Kerber, a triple Grand Slam champion who won in Melbourne in 2016, faced just one breakpoint in the match in the second set and converted her first opportunity in the eighth game to go 5-3 up and serve for the set.

In the third round the former world number one will meet Australian wildcard Kimberly Birrell, who earlier ousted 29th seeded Donna Vekic 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.

Defending champ Wozniacki strolls past Larrson

Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki in action during Her match against Sweden's Johanna Larsson

IMAGE: Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki in action during Her match against Sweden's Johanna Larsson. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki set up a potential third-round showdown with Maria Sharapova after easing past Johanna Larsson 6-1, 6-3 in a one-sided clash at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

Third seeded Wozniacki took just over an hour to secure her second consecutive straight-sets win for a possible match-up between two former world number one players against Sharapova who plays Rebecca Peterson in the second round.

Wozniacki made just 12 unforced errors in her second round match against a player who constantly switched up her tactics in an ultimately unsuccessful bid to break down the brick wall defence of her higher-ranked opponent.

Wozniacki wobbled early in the second set, after being unable to convert a series of break points in the opening game, before settling back into her rhythm and running away with the match.

"I thought it was a fine match," Wozniacki, who is battling rheumatoid arthritis, told reporters. "I think she stepped it up a little bit in the second set. I think I served well."

Wozniacki has been in the top echelon of women's tennis for a decade but won her first Grand Slam singles title at the start of 2018.

Australia's Barty shines brightly as compatriots stumble

Australia's Ashleigh Barty in action during the match against China's Wang Yafan

IMAGE: Australia's Ashleigh Barty in action during the match against China's Wang Yafan. Photograph: Edgar Su/Reuters

Australia's top-ranked player Ashleigh Barty beat Wang Yafan 6-2, 6-3 in a straight-forward affair on Wednesday, propelling the home country's leading prospect into the third round.

The 15th-seeded Barty is the highest ranked local player -- either man or woman -- in the tournament and is known for her court craft and is an accomplished doubles player, while she has also played elite-level cricket.

"I felt like today was pretty clean, except for a couple of games where I got passive," Barty told reporters.

The 22-year-old will play Greece's Maria Sakkari in the third round.

She is one of a rapidly depleting list of local players at the tournament where Australians have had limited success despite boasting several Grand Slam singles champions like Samantha Stosur, Lleyton Hewitt and Pat Rafter since the 1990s.

No Australian man or woman has won the singles title at their home Grand Slam since the 1970s. The last women's finalist was Wendy Turnbull in 1980, while Hewitt lost the 2005 final to Russia's Marat Safin.

An injury-hampered Nick Kyrgios crashed out of the Australian Open first round on Tuesday in straight sets, leaving further doubts as to whether the 23-year-old can realise his potential.

Australia's top-ranked male prospect, Alex de Minaur, is scheduled to play his second round match against Switzerland's Henri Laaksonen later on Wednesday.

Stephens advances; 9th seed Bertens out 

USA's Sloane Stephens plays a backhand in her second round match against Hungary's Timea Babos 

IMAGE: USA's Sloane Stephens plays a backhand in her second round match against Hungary's Timea Babos. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Former US Open champion Sloane Stephens powered into the Australian Open third round Wednesday.

The American fifth seed swatted aside former doubles partner Timea Babos 6-3, 6-1 on Rod Laver Arena to keep her on a collision course to meet world number two Angelique Kerber in the quarter-finals.

"Her serve is ridiculously good. I had to hang in there and be patient and I thought I did that well today," said Stephens, who next plays 31st seed Petra Martic.

Dutchwoman ninth-seed Kiki Bertens, who raced through the rankings last year after winning three titles, failed to live up to expectations, crashing in three sets to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who made the Melbourne quarters in 2017.

"I was maybe more a little lucky in the end, but she's a great tough opponent, she's top 10. That's a super great win for me," said the Russian.

Others safely into round three were 19th seeded Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia and Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus, who upset Estonian 20th seed Anett Kontaveit.

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