The last Aussie male left in the Australian Open has delivered a statement win but the attention was quickly stolen by his “training partner”.
Daniil Medvedev continued his Australian Open charge with another straight sets win while former world No. 1 Simona Halep has progressed into the fourth round.
Australian wildcard stars Maddison Inglis and Chris O’Connell’s dream runs came to an end, while fellow local Alex De Minaur wiped the floor with Spain’s Pablo Andujar to go deeper into the Australian Open than he’s every done before.
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De Minaur’s ‘training partner’ steals the show
Alex de Minaur has moved into the fourth round of the Australian Open after a crushing victory over Pablo Andujar to move into the tournament’s fourth round for the first time.
The last Aussie male left in the singles draw, de Minaur cruised past the world No. 83 6-4 6-4 6-2 in a brilliant performance to set up a clash with 11th seed Jannik Sinner, who defeated Japanese star Taro Daniel.
De Minaur was excellent in his performance, ripping 8 aces to 1 and 34 winners, the commentators were blown away by the young Aussie.
“De Minaur goes nuclear on that,” Jim Courier said after a forehand winner.
“That was at high speed … Andujar is within the same points so why not take some risk and try to get some reward? It should seem like it’d be self evident.”
Courier also said his fitness levels “are better than they’d ever been” and brought up his “training partner”, his golden retreiver Enzo.
“That’s the first time we went and did hill sprints, we did the usual 10 hill sprints, he was by my side the whole time,” he said. “Great dog, next time we did it, we did about two and he decided to go into the water and relax so… he’s a smart dog.”
But the whole crowd let out and “awww” when this pic went onto the big screen.
Day six schedule (all times AEDT)
Rod Laver Arena
Danielle Collins (27) defeated Clara Tauson 4-6 6-4 7-5
Kaia Kanepi defeated Maddison Inglis (WC) 2-6 6-2 6-0
Not before 2pm: Stefanos Tsitsipas (4) defeated Benoit Paire 6-3 7-5 6-7 6-4
From 7pm: Alex De Minaur (32) defeated Pablo Andujar 6-4 6-4 6-2
Sorana Cirstea defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (10) 6-3 2-6 6-2
Margaret Court Arena
Alize Cornet defeated Tamara Zidansek (29) 4-6 6-4 6-2
Aryna Sabalenka (2) defeated Marketa Vondrousova (31) 4-6 6-3 6-1
Daniil Medvedev (2) defeated Botic Van De Zandschulp 6-4 6-4 6-2
From 7pm: Iga Swiatek (7) defeated Daria Kasatkina (25) 6-2 6-3
Andrey Rublev (5) vs Marin Cilic (27)
John Cain Arena
Simona Halep (14) defeated Danka Kovinic 6-2 6-1
Krejcikova/Siniakova (1) defeated Adamczak/Han 6-3 6-3
Not before 5pm: Felix Auger-Aliassime (9) defeated Dan Evans (24) 6-4 6-1 6-1
Aussie Open villain changes his tune
Daniil Medvedev is the highest ranked player in the men’s draw but he has found himself less than the most popular player at Melbourne Park.
But after a win over Dutch player Botic van de Zandschulp the Russian world No. 2 wanted to work on his relationship with the Melbourne Park crowd.
Having called some of them “low IQ” against Nick Kyrgios earlier in the week, he wanted to fix the relationship with the crowd — offering some relationship advice.
“I was hoping you were going to be a bit easier on me guys,” he said as some boos rang out. “I’ll put it this way, it’s a little easier to play a guy from the Netherlands than a guy from Australia in Australia in Melbourne.
“I think every good relationship has it’s ups and down but it’s good. It’s entertaining, it’s real. It’s not like ‘hi guys, okay, whatever, I’ll see you next time’, there is some relationship going on.
“Hopefully I can come many more years here. As I say, I don’t think it’ll only be good ones but I hope it’ll be more good times than bad ones, otherwise it won’t work.”
After pauses for applause through the chat, interviewer Ian Cohen said: “We do love you here you know?”
‘Awesome’ Aussie blows the roof off
Australia loves an underdog and they don’t come much bigger than Chris O’Connell.
The World No. 175 is in the third round of the Australian Open and while his ranking will drastically improve, as well as his bank balance, the underdog is gave it a red hot go.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough and his Australian Open singles campaign ended in a 6-2 6-7 6-3 6-2 result.
Earlier in the match, O’Connell needed to leave the court in the first set to get treatment on an injury, he lost the first set 6-2, but bounced back in the second set to take the tiebreak.
And the crowd went wild.
Unfortunately for O’Connell, it was the beginning of the end as his injury woes and the American’s huge serve seemed to get the better of the Aussie as Cressy romped on to a four set win.
World No. 2’s hilarious response to nightmare
World No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka has struggled her way right into the fourth round of the Australian Open but at least she can see the funny side.
Sabalenka has had a horror time in Australia so far as her serve has gone right out the window.
She crashed out in the first round of both weeks of the Adelaide International and has gone to three sets in all three matches so far this Australia Open, the latest being her 4-6 6-3 6-1 win over 31st seed Marketa Vondousova.
Veteran New York Times tennis reporter Christopher Clarey likened the capitulation to former star Anna Kournikova, who famously got a case of the servin1g “yips” in the late 1990s, as Sabalenka served 19 double faults against Xinyu Wang in the second round and 12 against Aussie Storm Sanders in the first round.
Still, she can see the bright side.
“I’m really happy right now, and mostly really happy that I made only 10 double faults,” Sabalenka said before cheering to the crowd.
“And of course, thank you so much for the support, the atmosphere was unbelievable here today.”
Sabalenka continued: “Yeah I’ve had some trouble… I’ll just keep working on my serve and keep hoping that it will get better with every match.”
‘This is insane’: Star blows up
Alize Cornet blew up at the chair umpire when she was pinged for a time violation at a crucial moment in the second set of her match against Tamara Zidansek.
Zidansek won the opening set and while Cornet lined up to serve at 4-4 in the second, the umpire decided she’d taken too long as the Frenchwoman tried to adjust to the angle of the sun.
Cornet didn’t agree, saying she was easily in position quick enough to beat the 25-second shot clock. “This is insane,” she said, before asking: “What is your problem with me?”
Cornet then marched from the baseline to the chair and gave the umpire a piece of her mind.
“Don’t say anything to me, just listen,” she said as part of her rant.
Cornet recovered from that blow to win the second set then completed a sensational 4-6 6-4 6-2 win in two hours and 43 minutes.
Inglis bows out after hot start
Maddison Inglis is out of the Australian Open after she was knocked out in three sets by Kaia Kanepi.
She made a hot start to the clash, storming through to take the first set 6-2 in 31 minutes.
The 24-year-old broke twice early on and raced to a 4-0 lead as she looked right at home on centre court.
But Kanepi fought back to claim the second set 6-2 and as the Estonian reduced her unforced errors, the same couldn’t be said for Inglis, who struggled to stay in the rallies as the match went on.
The Aussie struggled in the third set, which Kanepi claimed 6-0 in 25 minutes.
Inglis, who gained a wildcard entry into the main draw for the Australian Open, has been a major surprise packet at Melbourne Park. She won her first ever grand slam match against last year’s US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez, then beat American Hailey Baptiste in three sets in round two.
The West Australian was shocked to learn in a live TV interview this week she’d earned $220,000 for advancing to round three.
Collins knocks out teen sensation
Danielle Collins bounced back after losing the first set to beat Danish teenager Clara Tauson in a thriller on Rod Laver Arena 4-6 6-4 7-5.
The third set lasted 67 minutes but the American held her nerve to break Tauson and seal the win.
Tauson, 19, enjoyed a dream run by defeating Aussie Astra Sharma in round one then upset sixth seed Annett Kontaveit in straight sets in the second round. But it couldn’t last as Collins showed her trademark grit to move into the fourth round.
Over on John Cain Arena, former world No. 1 Simona Halep made light work of Danka Kovinic to secure a 6-2 6-1 victory, while Belgian 19th seed Elise Mertens beat Shuai Zhang in straight sets.
Nadal thought he might never play again
Rafael Nadal said on Friday that his foot injury last year was so bad he thought he might never play tennis again.
The Spanish great is chasing a men’s record 21st Grand Slam at the Australian Open, where he steamed into the fourth round with a four-set victory over Russian 28th seed Karen Khachanov.
Speaking after his 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 victory in a late-night match on Rod Laver Arena, the 35-year-old Spaniard laid bare the extent of the foot problem that ended his year on the tour in August.
Nadal suffers from Mueller-Weiss syndrome, a degenerative disease that causes a deformity of one of the bones in the central part of the foot.
“First of all, everybody around me, me included of course, but everybody around me had a lot of doubts,” he said, asked if towards the end of last year he feared he might not make it to Melbourne.
“Not (only) about Australian Open, no, but about coming back on the tour because the foot was bothering a lot of days.
“Of course, still today are doubts because the foot, as I said the other day, it is an injury we cannot fix… so we need to find a way that the pain is under control to play, to keep playing. That’s the goal.”
Nadal, who has seen the draw open up for him with the deportation of defending champion Novak Djokovic, dropped a set for the first time this week against Khachanov.
But he called it his best performance since returning to the tour at the start of the year.
Nadal will face unseeded Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in the last 16.
“It’s a very special week for me coming back from where I have been, every time I come back here to play is a very special thing,” Nadal told the crowd, a nod to his foot issue.
“I had my best match so far without a doubt since I came back.
“I went through some very tough times in the last year and a half, but nights like this mean everything to me, that’s a lot of energy in my pocket to keep going, keep fighting every single day.”
Fans fume at broadcast ‘shambles’
Tennis fans in the UK were fuming when broadcaster Eurosport cut away late in the third set of Naomi Osaka’s blockbuster clash against Amanda Anisimova.
Anisimova scored the biggest win of her career, beating the four-time major winner 4-6 6-3 6-6, but not everyone around the world could see the final stages of the gripping encounter.
Eurosport reportedly cut away from the clash at 5-5 in the third set to a skiing broadcast, sparking a furious reaction online as its other channel went to Rafael Nadal’s warm-up.
Tennis commentator Jose Morgado called it a “shambles” while sports reporter Ben Coley tweeted: “We give the BBC some stick but @Eurosport_UK just left Osaka at 5-5 in the third for some skiing.
“On the main channel we’re watching Nadal warm up. Surely we could join Nadal in 20 minutes? Madness. Absolute madness.”
Tennis writer Simon Cambers added: “Terrible decision by Eurosport to leave Osaka-Anisimova at 5-5 in the third. Fine, they’ve got skiing to go to — but on the other channel, they’re showing the start of Rafa instead. Just show the women. Mental.”
Day six preview
World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev will step up his march towards the Australian Open men’s title on Saturday while a resurgent Simona Halep eyes a place in the second week of the Grand Slam.
US Open champion Medvedev cemented his status as tournament favourite by overcoming the mercurial Nick Kyrgios in four sets in a raucous second-round encounter on Thursday.
Medvedev, the de facto top seed after Novak Djokovic was deported on the eve of the tournament, now faces a more conventional opponent in Dutch world No. 57 Botic van de Zandschulp for a place in the last 16.
But he will not take his opponent lightly in their third-round meeting. “Grand Slams are tough, there are going to be tough opponents,” said Medvedev. “Sometimes you lose early, sometimes you lose late, sometimes you win it. I just want to play really good.”
Former women’s number one Halep tumbled down the rankings after an injury-blighted 2021 but said she had given her best performance of the year in beating Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil 6-2, 6-0 in the second round.
“I played well and I felt very confident on court,” said 14th seed Halep, who now faces world number 98 Danka Kovinic, the conqueror of US Open champion Emma Raducanu.
“I felt great, everything. Was the best match.”
With Andy Murray and Raducanu out, the weight of British expectation now falls entirely on the shoulders of 24th seed Dan Evans.
The last Brit standing had an unexpected day off on Thursday when his French opponent Arthur Rinderknech pulled out with injury giving him a walkover into the third round.
Evans faces in-form ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, who was part of Canada’s ATP Cup-winning team in Sydney earlier this month.
There is an intriguing clash between fifth seed Andrey Rublev of Russia and 2018 Melbourne Park finalist Marin Cilic of Croatia that has the potential to be a late-night classic on Margaret Court Arena.
Cilic pushed Roger Federer to five sets in the final four years ago and the big-serving 27th seed is capable of upsetting anyone.
Fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas is a potential semi-final opponent for Medvedev, but first he needs to get past seasoned Frenchman Benoit Paire on Rod Laver Arena.
Paire, the world number 56, is looking to equal his best at a Slam by reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open for the first time.
In the women’s event, second seed Aryna Sabalenka has been plagued by poor serving and dished up 19 double faults in scraping through her second-round match against China’s Wang Xiyu in three sets on Thursday.
A repeat could see her in trouble against 31st seed Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, in the bottom half of a draw that has already seen the shock departure of third seed Garbine Muguruza and sixth seed Anett Kontaveit.