A BIZARRE match at Hisense Arena which saw spectators ejected, helicopters interrupt and technical failures cause a stir highlighted the third day at the 2018 Australian Open.
Nick Kyrgios fought through a myriad of distractions on his way to a composed straight-sets win over Viktor Troicki to seal a spot against 2008 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Round of 32.
Aussie Matthew Ebden wasn’t so lucky and fell to Alexandr Dolgopolov 7-6 6-3 6-4 at Margaret Court Arena. The match saw its own piece of drama after Dolgopolov fired up at the umpire’s decision to go back on her decision to replay a point after he lost a shoe.
ROD LAVER ARENA
(4) Elina Svitolina (UKR) defeated Katerina Siniakova (CZE) 4-6 6-2 6-1
(2) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) defeated Jana Fett (CRO) 3-6 6-2 7-5
(1) Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated Leonardo Mayer (ARG) 6-3 6-4 7-6
(3) Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) defeated Mackenzie Donald (USA) 4-6 6-2 6-4 0-6 8-6
(23) Daria Gavrilova (AUS) vs Elise Mertens (BEL) 5-7 3-6
MARGARET COURT ARENA
Marta Kostyuk (UKR) defeated Olivia Rogowska (AUS) 6-3 7-5
(15) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) defeated Denis Shapovalov (CAN) 3-6 6-3 1-6 7-6 7-5
(7) Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) defeated Ying-Ying Duan (CHI) 6-3 3-6 6-4
Alize Cornet (FRA) vs (12) defeated Julia Goerges (GER) 6-4 6-3
Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) vs Matthew Ebden (AUS) 7-6 6-3 6-4
Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) defeated (15) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 6-2 6-3
Luksika Kumkhum (THA) defeated Belinda Bencic (SUI) 6-1 6-3
(6) Marin Cilic (CRO) defeated Joao Sousa (POR) 6-1 7-5 6-2
(17) Nick Kyrgios (AUS) defeated Viktor Troicki (SER) 7-5 6-4 7-6
Gavrilova squanders strong lead
Aussie hope Daria Gavrilova was leading 4-0 early on against German Elise Mertens and seemed to be cruising. But she capitulated to lose her grip on the first set 7-5.
Her display was marred by a couple of angry racquet throws.
Nine double faults later and a contested line call late in the second saw Gavrilova finally hand the match to her opponent despite a strong rally and an emotional outburst.
Dimitrov wins five set thriller
World No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov fought off an early Open scare against Mackenzie McDonald to advance through to the third round.
The 26-year-old lost the first set 4-6 but bounced back to take the next two in under 90 mintues — but then the unthinkable happened. The 22-year-old McDonald pulled a rabbit out of his hat to silence the Bulgarian 0-6 in the fourth, a set lasting just 22 minutes.
Dimitrov salvaged the match in the fifth, but it didn’t come easy as the American took him to the wire. Dimitrov eventually wrapped up the set in the dying minutes before midnight 8-6 and progressed to the round of 32.
Dolgopolov erupts, Ebden falls
— #7TENNIS 🎾 (@7tennis) January 17, 2018
Controversy erupted during Alexandr Dolgopolov’s clash against Aussie Matt Ebden after the former’s shoe came off his foot midway through a point.
The umpire called a let but quickly changed her call to award Ebden a point, prompting an outburst from the Ukrainian.
“This is a joke,” he argued as the crowd chanted “code violation”. The match supervisor came onto the court immediately to sort out the disagreement.
The call wasn’t overruled, much to Dolgopolov’s disdain — but it wasn’t enough to slow him down on his way to victory.
The 29-year-old shut out the Aussie in straight-sets 7-6 6-3 6-4, ending the 30-year-old’s campaign in the second round. Dolgopolov will now play Diego Schwartzman in the round of 32.
Kyrgios’ brother slammed for Sportsbet T-shirt
As Nick Kyrgios toiled his way through a disruptive match at Hisense Arena, some fans took displeasure to his brother, Christos, and his choice of attire in the crowd.
The older sibling of the 22-year-old Aussie turned up to his seat in a Sportsbet shirt and was scolded for being a “human billboard” after standing to applaud his brother.
Unbelievable things about tonight’s Kyrgios v Troicki match:
1. Attention seeker @JamieZhuTV disturbing play with “sex noises” 🙄
2. Christos Kyrgios acting as a walking, talking ad for @sportsbetcomau 😳
3. Kyrgios’s round-the-post backhand early in the third set 👏🏻 pic.twitter.com/wbO5pBtNnR
— Monique Hore (@moniquehore) January 17, 2018
As if we don’t see enough gambling advertisements, we now have Nick Kyrgios’s brother acting as a human billboard in the player’s box. Standing up for the cameras. Are you serious, @AustralianOpen? 🤦🏽♂️
— Sam Landsberger 🗯 (@SamLandsberger) January 17, 2018
Interesting that Kyrgios’s brother can sit court side with a Sportsbet shirt so visible. Not much protection for #AusOpen offical sponsor William Hill.
— John Stensholt (@JohnStensholt) January 17, 2018
The boys went up after that outrageous Kyrgios backhand and stayed up after his brother’s awful Sportsbet shirt was revealed
— Nick Campton (@campo37) January 17, 2018
Kyrgios seals the deal despite missed chance
— #7TENNIS 🎾 (@7tennis) January 17, 2018
Nick Kyrgios threw away an opportunity to cruise home in straight sets after failing to consolidate a match point in the third set. To make matters worse, the Aussie allowed the Serbian to break his serve as Troicki stole back some momentum.
The set was then forced to a tiebreak.
A huge return from Troicki, which smacked the chair umpire on the head, briefly stalled the match. “That’s nearly decapitated the umpire,” Jim Courier said.
— We Are Tennis (@WeAreTennis) January 17, 2018
Kyrgios was able to bounce back from missing out on an early match point and claimed the match in the tiebreak 7-5 6-4 7-6 (7-2). He will now play Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the third round.
Kyrgios match has ‘reached ridiculous proportions’
First it was a loud fan, then it was a helicopter overhead, then it was a rogue shoelace on Victor Troicki’s boot.
Ongoing interruptions took their toll on Nick Kyrgios’ second round match as the Aussie star raced to take the first two sets. By the time the third set rolled around the players must have thought the worst of the frustrating match was behind them — but a rogue piece of technology ensured the night was going to be a struggle.
The chair umpire’s microphone, used to declare the score, malfunctioned midway through the match, much to the annoyance of the pair on court.
It’s reached ridiculous proportions. Can’t even understand chair umpire. #soundfail
— Peter Rolfe (@rolfep) January 17, 2018
Nick can’t escape interruptions
Nick Kyrgios took the first set over Viktor Troicki in their second round clash at Hisense Arena, but it didn’t come easy for the 22-year-old.
Jim Courier was curious why the Aussie star wasn’t capitalising on Troicki’s poor forehand early in the piece.
“Nick has a tremendous two-handed backhand, but he’s missing out tactically by employing that. His forehand is way better than Troicki’s. He should be asking Troicki to hit more forehands,” Courer said in commentary.
“Troicki, three-quarters of the time, he’s getting backhands. That is not good.”
Kyrgios eventually took the set 7-5 before instantly breaking his opponent’s serve in the second. The Aussie’s service game picked up speed over the course of the match with one of his second serves reaching Troicki at a searing 188km/h.
A strange moment in the crowd which saw a fan video himself while facing the court as Kyrgios was about to serve interrupted the state of play, much to the Aussie’s displeasure.
Kyrgios, who was fined for an altercation with a fan in his first round match, scolded the spectator and had a heated word with the chair umpire.
“Well done, you’re an idiot,” Kyrgios said to the heckler.
“What’s going on? Fix it man. Are you gonna call someone to fix it? It’s not normal,” he told the umpire.
But the interruptions weren’t over yet.
A helicopter appeared over Hisense Arena in the second set and got in the way of play.
“I’ve never seen this before at a stadium anywhere in the world,” Rasheed said as the aircraft circled.
“Are you f***ing kidding?” an annoyed Kyrgios said as he sat down for the change of ends.
‘Unsporting’ Aussies ‘cross the line’
John Millman has accused fans at the Australian Open of “crossing the line” during his loss to Damir Dzumhur.
The Bosnian took two hours and 39 minutes to secure a hard fought 7-5 3-6 6-4 6-1 win on Court 3 but he too was annoyed by the vocal fans who showed scant regard for tennis etiquette.
Dzumhur asked the chair umpire: “Are you going to stop them” when they were making too much noise for his liking, and Millman spoke afterwards of his disappointment in the constant cries coming from the stands.
“I kind of like the atmosphere when two sets of crowd are going against each other, it’s just when it crosses the line when you’re in the middle of a rally and you’re literally about to make contact and they make sound on purpose,” Millman said.
“I think that’s where they crossed the line. It happened a fair bit on serve, too. You toss the ball up and as you’re making contact they make noise and they’re doing that on purpose. (It) Not necessarily gets under your skin but it’s probably just a little bit unsporting I’d say.”
WTA’s response to screaming Sabalenka
19-year-old Aryna Sabalenka had Rod Laver Arena on her back after her loud on-court grunts stirred up a storm around the country.
The Belarusian star took the first set over Ashleigh Barty as the Aussie star struggled through the first hour of her Australian Open campaign.
The Women’s Tennis Association released a statement after the hubbub went viral, claiming loud grunting came part and parcel with the sport.
“Grunting is a natural part of the game; there is a correlation between breathing, a forceful exhale and power,” the statement read, per the Herald Sun.
“Excessive grunting doesn’t seem to be an issue that affects players, but we’re aware of how some fans react to it. It’s important that we address their concerns. Excessive grunting is being addressed through a commitment to an ongoing educational outreach.”
Five set epicwraps up
Tennis veteran Ivo Karlovic came out on top over Yuichi Sugita in an epic five-setter lasting four hours and 33 minutes. The 38-year-old Croatian, who is the oldest player to take part in this year’s Open, fought through two tiebreaks with his younger opponent before finally wrapping up the match 7-6 6-7 7-5 4-6 12-10 in a gruelling finish under the harsh Melbourne sun.
Meanwhile, World No. 1 Rafael Nadal has cruised through his second round clash against Leonardo Mayer, taking the first two sets 6-3 6-4 as the Argentinian struggled.
Tsonga downs Canadian teenager
Comebacks galore right now at the Australian Open as Jo-Wilfred Tsonga fought back from 2-5 down in the fifth set against Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov.
Tsonga came back from the brink of elimination as Shapovalov faltered in the final set with victory within his grasp.
The energetic Frenchman won 3-6 6-3 1-6 7-6 7-5 and now advances into the third round of the Australian Open.
For the 18-year-old the loss will sting for a long time but one that should teach him plenty of lessons for the future.
Tsonga will now await his next opponent in the third round which will be either Viktor Troicki or Australian Nick Kyrgios.
.@tsonga7 is CLUTCH 🔥
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 17, 2018
Tsonga 👏🏻👏🏻 Shapovalov 👏🏻👏🏻 one of the best games I’ve seen live. Incredible!! #AusOpen
— Andrew French (@AFrenchy91) January 17, 2018
Top seeded Wozniacki fights off elimination
Caroline Wozniacki was down for the count, she had been rocked by the number 119 ranked Jana Fett in their second round battle.
Down 5-1 and facing a 0-30 hole, Wozniacki dug deep and rattled off 6 straight games to defeat her opponent 3-6 6-2 7-5.
Fett held match points but after looking almost certain of victory, her serve abandoned her and Wozniacki continued to fight.
The number 2 seed won a remarkable 23 of the final 30 points of the game as Fett made mistake after mistake down the stretch.
Wozniacki will now face the winner of the Kiki Bertens and Nicole Gibbs game that is set to take place this afternoon.
“That was crazy. I don’t know how I got back into the match,” she said after the shock comeback.
“I’ve never played her before – she’s a tricky opponent and she had nothing to lose.
“I think she realised she was at 5-1 and she let off the speed a little bit and I said this is my last chance, I have to go and attack and then things were going my way. I said ‘OK this is my shot, this is my only shot today.’”
#2 Caroline Wozniacki survives a real scare, saving two match points down 1-5 in the third set and beating #119 Jana Fett 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 in #AusOpen R2.
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 17, 2018
Wozniacki unbelievable! There’s a reason why she’s world number 2 👏🏼👏🏼 That’s mental toughness #AusOpen2018
— Sham Khamis (@Sham_Khamis) January 17, 2018
Bencic can’t back up Venus effort
Two days after her upset win over Venus Williams, Belinda Bencic is out of the Australian Open.
Bencic was on a high after beating 2017 finalist Williams on the centre court in the first round, but started flatly on Hisense Arena on Wednesday and lost 6-1, 6-3 to powerful hitting Thai qualifier Luksika Kumkhum.
The 20-year-old Swiss, who combined with Roger Federer to win the Hopman Cup in the lead-up to the season’s first major, saved three match points on her serve before netting a backhand to give No. 124th-ranked Kumkhum a spot in the third round for the first time.
‘Incredible’ teen stuns Open
Not since Martina Hingis has a young female star gone this far at such a young age.
Ukrainian 15-year-old Marta Kostyuk became the youngest player to make it into the third round at the Australian Open since the former Swiss world No. 1 by defeating Australia’s Olivia Rogowska 6-3 7-5 on Wednesday.
“Are you joking?” a Channel 7 commentator said. “This is an incredible story.”
Kostyuk earned a place in qualifying after winning the junior title last year, before becoming the youngest grand slam entrant since 2005.
She upset Chinese 25th seed Peng Shuai 6-2 6-2 in the opening round to become the youngest non-wildcard to a win slam match since 1997.
“Two weeks ago I played an ITF 25K and I lost in the first round,” Kostyuk said after defeating Peng. “I lost the first round to a Greek girl. I was up and I had set point and I made some mistakes in that moment.
“After the match, I was so upset. ‘I don’t want to go to Australia, I don’t know what I’m going to do here, why am I coming here, I’m going to lose first round of qualies.’ It was like this. Mum was like calm down, it’s fine. That’s why we came one tournament before. You learn from your mistakes and it will be better.”
“I learned from my mistakes and I actually changed a lot here. So in one week I managed to change so many things, you cannot imagine.”
The youngster took full advantage of facing wildcard entrant Rogowska in the second as she looks to improve her world ranking of 522.
Marta Kostyuk closes it out with some humor. Shanks a serve on 1st MP & motions to challenge it. Eventually converts to win 63 75.
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) January 17, 2018
‘Amazing’ state of women’s rankings
Tennis players don’t get much more out of form than France’s Kristina Mladenovic, who lost her 15th consecutive WTA match by falling 6-3 6-2 to Ana Bogdan in the opening round of the Australian Open.
That might not seem of major interest until you consider Mladenovic, despite her cold streak, entered the tournament as the 11th seed. And, per tennis writer Jose Morgado, could still see her ranking climb to a career-best ninth in the world if results fall her way for the rest of the tournament.
How the flying Federer can that happen?
The Mladenovic losing streak reaches 15 amazing she is still ranked #11 in the world 🌎
— Brad Gilbert (@bgtennisnation) January 16, 2018
Mladenovic still has a chance to reach a new career high #9 after the #AusOpen despite having lost her last 15 matches and 30 of the last 33 sets played.
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) January 16, 2018
Mladenovic is managing to hang on to a near-top 10 ranking largely on the back of a wildly-successful clay court season in 2017, where she made finals in Stuttgart and Madrid and reached the quarters of the French Open.
But it also speaks to the state of women’s tennis, which has reached historic levels of instability that were exacerbated by Serena Williams’ exit to have her first child.
Simona Halep is world number one despite never having won a grand slam — and only ever making the final at Roland Garros.
It’s a bizarre state of affairs, but adds to the level of intrigue this fortnight in Melbourne.
Mladenovic, for her part, was staying positive after another defeat, pointing to her improved health as a reason to expect a turnaround soon.
“It was a very bad match,” she said. “But it’s not like last year when I was dragging a physical problem. There everything is fine. There is no need to worry, it cannot continue like that, especially with the work I do on a daily basis.”
Only if the following players don’t reach:
R16: Görges, Konta
SF: Sevastova, Barty, Kerber, Keys
F: Rybarikova, Pavlyuchenkova, Vesnina, Kasatkina, Gavrilova, Strycova
— Jan Schneider (@jschneider1914) January 16, 2018
And if these players don’t win the tournament:
Bertens, Safarova, Kontaveit, Zhang, Mertens, Radwanska, Suarez Navarro, Begu, Cirstea, Cornet, Tsurenko, Babos, Sharapova, Siniakova, Puig, Sasnovich, Vekic, Putintseva, Vondrousova
— Jan Schneider (@jschneider1914) January 16, 2018
Kyrgios fined for swearing at crowd
Australia’s volatile Nick Kyrgios has been fined for a colourful directive to the rowdy crowd during his opening round win at the Australian Open.
The 22-year-old was slapped with a $ 3000 penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct early in his 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win over Brazilian Rogerio Dutra Silva in a night match on Hisense Arena on Monday.
The Australian was among six players fined a total $ 15,000 for indiscretions in qualifying and the main draw’s first phase at the year’s opening Grand Slam.
Croatia’s Borna Coric was hit with a $ 5000 penalty for racquet abuse during his defeat to Australia’s John Millman.
Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman and Romanian Marius Copil were fined $ 2000 each for the same offence.
Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik was handed two $ 1000 fines and American Stefan Kozlov was penalised $ 1,000, both for audible obscenities during qualifying.
Ugly battle robbed Open of star
Victoria Azarenka’s tennis comeback is within reach.
The Belarus-born athlete, whose career has been sidelined since last summer as a result of a nasty custody war with ex Billy McKeague over their son, Leo, scored a victory in the case, TMZ reported Monday.
In response to McKeague’s initial filing in a California court — in which Azarenka was barred from leaving the state with her one-year-old while the dispute was ongoing, causing her to miss the US Open in late August and the Australian Open this month — a judge found the case does not belong in California, let alone the greater United States.
Though Azarenka’s camp is confident of a forthcoming victory, given the judge’s detailed, 65-page opinion, McKeague has three weeks to file an appeal.
Should Azarenka seal the legal win, the 28-year-old is said to be planning a return to her homeland with her son, but hopes to co-parent with McKeague.
Azarenka and McKeague welcomed their first child in December, 2016, before calling it quits in July, 2017. She last competed at Wimbledon, losing in the fourth round to Romanian Simona Halep.
— New York Post
‘Hurtful’ truth in brutal Aussie bloodbath
Tuesday was a tough day to be Australian.
Melbourne played host to a bloodbath as seven of the eight local hopes in action on the second day of the Australian Open came and went, exiting the year’s first major in the opening round.
Destanee Aiava, Alex De Minaur, Ajla Tomljanovic, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Lizette Cabrera, Jordan Thompson and Alexei Popyrin waved goodbye to the singles draw at Melbourne Park and will have to wait 12 months before getting another chance to impress at their home grand slam.
Only Ash Barty left with a W next to her name as she overcame Aryna Sabalenka in a tough three-setter that stretched the World No. 17 further than many expected.
Few defeats were unexpected — but that was no consolation for Kokkinakis, who lost 2-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-7 (8-10) 4-6 to Russian Daniil Medvedev.
“It hurts to say,” Kokkinakis said when told about Australia’s horror day. “I don’t know. I don’t know what a theory is. Maybe the opponents are just better. The Aussies didn’t play that well. I don’t know. I didn’t really watch too many of them play.
“Hopefully the guys that lost, we can gel as one and be better tomorrow. I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes now.”
Kokkinakis — on the comeback trail from injury — was once again let down by his body as a pec issue ruined his night. During the match he complained his body “is a shambles” and he was disheartened by more than just his physical frailties after he’d had time to digest the loss.
“There’s a lot of emotion and frustration involved. Yeah, it’s frustrating,” he said in his post-match press conference.
“At the moment when I’m playing long matches, I’m trying to peak for certain moments because I don’t feel like I can put my best in every point I’m into. That’s why I think there are so many ups and downs in my matches.
“As you can see, every grand slam match I’ve played, I’ve had chances, but I lost my focus and intensity. It’s literally happened in every one of my matches.
“That’s frustrating. That’s a little physical and mental hump I need to get over. I think when I get over that, things will open up for me.”
Australia has fallen in love with 18-year-old Alex De Minaur this summer but the young gun was unable to continue his giant killing run against 19th seed Tomas Berdych, going down in four sets to the classy Czech.
He gave the country hope when he levelled things up at one set apiece with a 6-3 second set but he ran out of gas as Berdych ran away with the match in a 6-3 3-6 6-0 6-1 win.
De Minaur won the tennis world’s hearts with a gutsy display in the Sydney International final on Saturday night, which he lost in three sets to Medvedev. That performance — which included a stunning comeback from 0-4 down in the third — came on the back of a breakthrough Brisbane International where he knocked over Milos Raonic en route to the semi-finals.
But another dream run at home was too much to ask for.
“Very tough match. He’s a very high-level player with lots of experience. I knew it was going to be a very tough match coming in, but I’m happy with the effort I put in and the fight,” De Minaur said.
“I managed to get that set. But then he was just too good for me. He blew me off the court. I left it all out there, but it wasn’t enough.”
World No. 99 Thompson was ranked only six spots behind Nicolas Kicker of Argentina, but he was his own worst enemy as he struggled for fluency in the three hour and 42 minute slugfest.
He fought back from two sets to love down to send the match into a decider and was up 2-0, but he lost five games straight to surrender his grasp on what was looming as a miracle comeback.
A dejected Thompson said afterwards a failure to take his chances led to his downfall as he lamented the two opening sets that were “well below par”.
Tomljanovic — who played under the Croatian flag at the Brisbane international but completed her Australian citizenship test before Christmas — was competing as an Australian for the first time in a grand slam. The crowd was right behind its newly adopted star but she was outclassed 7-5 6-3 by 29th seed Lucie Safarova.
Wildcard recipients Lizette Cabrera and Alexei Popyrin joined their compatriots in the first round exodus while Aiava was sent packing by Simona Halep — but not before giving the World No. 1 a scare.
The 17-year-old raced to a 5-2 lead in the first set before she started hyperventilating, forcing her to take a medical time-out. Halep came back to claim the set in a tiebreak then cruised through the second 6-1.
— James Matthey