TENNIS – Novak Djokovic (1) beat Gilles Muller from Luxemburg 6-1 6-4 6-4 in one hour and 50 minutes, although he received treatment on his hip. Djokovic scored his second win against Muller in a Grand Slam tournament this year after prevailing in the fourth round at last January’s Australian Open. Diego Sampaolo
Djokovic converted on five of his 12 break points and hit 35 winners.
“There are no significant injury concerns. Thankfully it’s nothing major. It’s not a concern for the next match, which is the most important thing. It wasn’t pleasant with the conditions that were changing today. I think a bit of heavier conditions made the court a little bit more wet and it was pretty slippery”, said Djokovic
Andy Murray (3) dropped the second set but clinched the match in four sets with 6-2 4-6 6-4 6-1 against Joao Sousa. The Scotsman cruised to 6-2 in the first set in which he dropped just three points on serve but he was seriously tested in the second set where he won just 36% of his first serve points. In a trade of break Murray dropped his serve for 3-5 but he broke straight back. However Sousa broke again to clinch the second set.
Sousa got two chances to take an early break in the third set but he failed to convert it after hitting his return long. Murray earned a break point at 3-3 with his backhand winner down the line and took the break with a forehand into the corner. He served out for the third set with 6-4.
Murray broke early in the fourth set before taking a 3-0 lead with a cross-court forehand winner. He got another break to close out the match after two hours and 30 minutes.
Rafael Nadal (6), the 9-time champion here had a tough test against fellow countryman Nicolas Almagro but the defending champion was able to come away unscathed 6-4 6-3 6-1. David Ferrer (7) also faced a fellow Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-3 6-2 6-1. Several other seeded players also won including Marin Cilic (9), Kevin Anderson (15), Leonardo Mayer (23) and David Goffin (17).
This year’s French Open might be the tipping point for the next generation of ATP stars as four of them find themselves in the 3rd round of the French Open. 20-year old Nick Kyrgios (29) got through to the 3rd round without playing Kyle Edmunds withdrew from the tournament with injury. Borna Coric, 18, knocked out Tommy Robredo (18) in 5 sets 7-5 3-6 6-2 4-6 6-4. 19-year old Thanasi Kokkinakis had a similarly epic match against his compatriot Bernard Tomic (27) coming from 0-2 sets down to take it in 5th set after denying Tomic the chance to serve out the match, 3-6 3-6 6-3 6-4 8-6.
Although American Jock Sock is slightly older than the others at 22 years old, his stocks too are rising. He recently won his first ATP title in Houston this year and already knocked out 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov in the 1st round. In his next match, he battled hard against Pablo Carreno-Busta taking the match in 4 sets 6-7 7-6 6-1 7-6. In the 3rd round, Kyrgios will face Murray, Coric against Sock and Kokkinakis will face Djokovic. These all make for some very interesting encounters come Saturday in Paris.
Schiavone battled past Kuznetsova after 3 hours and 49 minutes
In a clash between two former French Open champions, 2010 winner Francesca Schiavone battled past 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in an epic three-set match with 6-7 (11-13) 7-5 10-8 in a repeat of the legendary Australian Open 4 hour and 44-minute match in 2011 where the Italian prevailed yet again 6-4 1-6 16-14 in the longest women’s Grand Slam match in the Open Era. Many felt that the Russian had a chance to win this title as she had recently shown good form in Madrid when she got to the final.
In the 1st set, Kuznetsova (18) edged Schiavone 13-11 in the tiebreaker after an hour and 20 minutes. Schiavone rallied from a 0-2 deficit in the 2nd set to take it 7-5 and forced the match to a decisive 3rd set. Kuznetsova took a 4-2 lead in the third set and served for the match four times at 5-4, 6-5, 7-6 and 8-7 but each time she would be denied the opportunity to close out the match. Schiavone was relentless fending off the match point with a backhand winner before clinching the win when Kuznetsova hit her volley into the net after 3 hours and 49 minutes in the third longest match at the Roland Garros.
Schiavone will face Andrea Mitu who recovered from a set and a break down to upset Karolina Pliskova (12) with 2-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.
“I don’t know how much of it is magic or how much of it is working and just keeping going and believing in something that looks so far away but it’s so close. I feel like every match for me is great history now. It doesn’t matter where I am. The score doesn’t matter.Everything is a bonus for me,” said Schiavone
Serena Williams (1) had to dig deep when she recovered from a set down to edge Anna Lena Friedsam with 5-7 6-3 6-3. The German came close to breaking serve in the second set in the 1st and 5th games but Williams recovered to win the second set with 6-3 before getting the early break in the decider en route to clinching the third set with 6-3. Williams set up a blockbuster third round match against Victoria Azarenka (27) who defeated Lucie Hradecka 6-2 6-3. In their most recent encounter in Madrid, Williams had to fend off three match points before clinching the match in the 3rd set tiebreaker.
Julia Georges upset Caroline Wozniacki (5) 6-4 7-6 (7-4). The German hit 39 winners, including a forehand winner on her match point which enabled her to close out the match after one hour and 46 minutes. Georges scored her sixth win over a top-five player and her first at Grand Slam level. Other winners on the day include Andrea Petkovic (10), Irina Begu (30), Sara Errani (17), Timea Bacsinszky (23) and Madison Keys (16). Several unseeded players also made it through to the 3rd round, Sloane Stephens, Irina Falconi, Alison Van Uytvanck, Tsetvana Pironkova and Kristina Mladenovic.
Fabio Fognini beats Guido Pella in straight sets to reach the fourth round in Melbourne
Fabio Fognini beat Guido Pella 7-6 (7-0) 6-2 6-3 to reach the fourth round at the Australian Open in Melbourne. The Italian star converted five of his six break points to close out the match after 2 hours and nine minutes.
Fognini saved two break points in the first set with a forehand and a backhand and held his serve. The Italian star did not convert a break point in a long seventh game. Both players went on serve to set up a tie-break. Fognini did not drop a single point to cruise through to a 7-0 win.
In the second set Fognini earned a crucial break in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. He held his serve on the second deuce after saving a break point. The 2019 Monte-Carlo champion sealed the second set with another break with a forehand return winner.
Fognini earned a break lead in the fourth game of the decisive set. Pella broke straight back in the fifth game. Both traded breaks again in the sixth and seventh games. Fognini broke for the third time and converted his second match point with a serve up the T.
He is also the 12th player to come back from two sets down at all four Grand Slam tournaments.
With his five-set victories over Reilly Opelka and Jordan Thompson in the first two matches Fognini made history on Wednesday when the “Come-back king” became the first player to win back-to-back Australian Open matches in final set tie-breaks.
“I am so happy to be in the fourth round again in Australia. Now it’s time to recover. I played a really solid game against a really tough opponent. I am happy with the performance”, said Fognini.
Fognini set up a fourth round match against 2018 Australian Open quarter finalist Tennys Sandgren, who beat Sam Querrey 6-4 6-4 6-4 after 1 hour and 52 minutes. Sandgren fended off nine break points and converted just 2 of his 14 break point chances. Two years ago Sandgen beat Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem en route to reaching his first quarter final at a Grand Slam event.
Marin Cilic prevails over Roberto Bautista Agut in five-set thriller in Melbourne
Marin Cilic overcame Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 6-0 5-7 6-3 after 4 hours and 10 minutes to score his first top 10 win since the 2018 US Open, when he beat David Goffin.
Cilic fought back from losing the first set at the tie-break, but he bounced back in the second set by breaking serve in the ninth game, when Bautista Agut made a forehand error. Cilic held on his serve to win the second set 6-4 to draw level to 1-1.
Cilic cruised through to a bagel win in the third set. The Croatian player got an early break in the fourth set to open up a 3-1 lead. Bautista Agut broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Cilic did not convert a break point chance at 5-5. Bautista Agut earned the break at 6-5 to force the match to the fifth set.
Cilic broke serve in the opening game of the fifth set with a forehand winner, but he did not convert a break point at 4-2. He broke for the seventh time in the match in Bautista Agut’s next service game to clinch a thrilling win, as Bautista Agut fired a backhand into the net.
Cilic took a re-match against the Spanish player, who won their previous head-to-head clash at the 2019 Australian Open in five sets.
“I had an incredible patch. It was a surreal level. Every ball I was hitting was going in. It was coming off my raquet incredibly well. I knew Roberto would always fight and he pushed me all the way in the fourth set”, said Cilic.
Karen Khachanov edges Mikael Ymer in marathon match in Melbourne
Karen Khachanov battled past Mikael Ymer 6-2 2-6 6-4 3-6 7-6 (10-8) in a marathon match after 4 hours and 14 minutes.
Ymer broke serve twice in the second and fourth games of the fourth set to open up a 4-1 lead. Khachanov broke back in the seventh game, but Ymer broke for the third time to take the fourth set 6-3.
Khachanov broke serve in the sixth game to take a 4-2, but he was broken back in the next game.
Khachanov was not able to serve out the match at 5-3 in the fifth set before trailing 6-8 in the decisive match tie-break. Khachanov came back by winning four consecutive points to clinch a thrilling win.
Australia’s Alexei Popyrin beat Spain’s Jaume Munar 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 after 2 hours and 4 minutes setting up a third round match against Danil Medvedev. Popyrin broke twice in each of the first and third sets and saved all four break point chances.
Taylor Fritz came back from two sets down to beat Kevin Anderson 4-6 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 6-2. Anderson was leading by two sets and 4-2 in the third set, but Fritz broke back before winning the third set at the tie-break. Fritz cruised through the fourth and fifth sets. Fritz will face Dominic Thiem in the third round.
“That was huge for me. He played a really tough five setter just the other day and then obviously coming back. Going back to back five setters is going to be tougher for him than usual. I felt fresh, so I just told myself that I have to keep running”,said Fritz.
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