MELBOURNE: World number one Rafael Nadal swept into the Australian Open third round to keep his Grand Slam title hunt on track on Wednesday, as Caroline Wozniacki and Grigor Dimitrov pulled off great escapes to stay in contention.
Top seed Nadal beat Argentine Leonardo Mayer 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) and will face Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur in the next round while Bulgarian third seed Dimitrov had to dig deep to carve out a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 0-6, 8-6 victory over unseeded American qualifier Mackenzie McDonald.
Wozniacki staged an impressive comeback from the brink of defeat to earn a 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory over Croatia’s Jana Fett and progress to the last 32 of the women’s draw and will be joined by Ukrainian Elina Svitolina and Jelena Ostapenko.
France’s Alize Cornet handed 12th seed Julia Goerges a surprise 6-4, 6-3 defeat to snap the German’s 15-game winning streak and set up a third round clash with Belgian Elise Mertens, who beat 23rd-seed Daria Gavrilova 7-5, 6-3.
Seed slayers Belinda Bencic and Zhang Shuai, who ousted Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens in the opening round, were knocked out by Thai qualifier Luksika Kumkhum and Czech Republic’s Denisa Allertova respectively.
Home favourite Nick Kyrgios, sixth-seeded Marin Cilic and Britain’s Kyle Edmund also sealed progression to the third round of men’s draw.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 2008 Australian Open finalist, rallied from 5-2 down in the fifth to overcome Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (7-4), 7-5. And 38-year-old Ivo Karlovic overcame Yuichi Sugita 7-6 (7-3), 6-7 (7-3), 7-5, 4-6, 12-10.
Nadal, the 2017 runner-up, didn’t risk any close calls. The top-ranked Spaniard made only 10 unforced errors and had just one hiccup dropping a service game while serving for the match against Mayer.
“It’s an important victory for me,” said Nadal, who won the French Open and U.S. Open last year but had his preparation for Australia interrupted by an injured right knee. “After a while without being on the competition … second victory in a row, that’s very important.”
Surprisingly, he was not the prime time men’s night match on centre court, with that honour going to Dimitrov, who survived a huge scare from McDonald.
“I’m very happy with the win, not because the way I played, but because the way I fought,” said Dimitrov. “It all came down to a few points here and there.”
In the match preceding Nadal and Mayer on Rod Laver Arena, Wozniacki felt like she was “one foot out the tournament” before winning six straight games to advance.
“That was crazy,” Wozniacki said. “I don’t know how I got back into the match. I was like, ‘This is my last chance’. At 5-1, 40-15 … she served a great serve down the T [and] it was just slightly out. I was kind of lucky.”
Wozniacki won the next nine points, and 24 of the 31 points played from the first match point, and will next play Kiki Bertens.
Fourth seed Svitolina also came from a set down to overcome spirited Czech Katerina Siniakova 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.
Her next task is tackling 15-year-old sensation Marta Kostyuk, who became the youngest woman to reach the third round since Martina Hingis got to the quarter-finals in 1996 after she beat local wildcard Olivia Rogowska 6-3, 7-5.
French Open champion and seventh seed Ostapenko also progressed, but she too needed three sets to get past China’s Duan Yingying 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
Wednesday’s results (prefix number denotes seeding):
Second round: 1-Rafael Nadal (Spain) bt Leonardo Mayer (Argentina) 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4); 28-Damir Dzumhur (Bosnia and Herzegovina) bt John Millman (Australia) 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1; 24-Diego Schwartzman (Argentina) bt Casper Ruud (Norway) 6-4, 6-2, 6-3; Alexandr Dolgopolov (Ukraine) bt Matthew Ebden (Australia) 7-6 (7-0), 6-3, 6-4; 10-Pablo Carreno Busta bt Gilles Simon (France) 6-2 — Simon retired; 23-Gilles Muller (Luxembourg) bt Malek Jaziri (Tunisia) 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 3-6, 6-2; Ryan Harrison (US) bt 31-Pablo Cuevas (Uruguay) 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4; 6-Marin Cilic (Croatia) bt Joao Sousa (Portugal) 6-1, 7-5, 6-2; 3-Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgaria) bt Mackenzie McDonald (US) 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 0-6, 8-6; 30-Andrey Rublev (Russia) bt Marcos Baghdatis (Cyprus) 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-2; 17-Nick Kyrgios (Australia) bt Viktor Troicki (Serbia) 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2); 15-Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (France) bt Denis Shapovalov (Canada) 3-6, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (7-4), 7-5; Kyle Edmund (Great Britain) bt Denis Istomin (Uzbekistan) 6-2, 6-2, 6-4; Nikoloz Basilashvili (Georgia) bt Ruben Bemelmans (Belgium) 7-5, 6-1, 6-3; Andreas Seppi (Italy) bt Yoshihito Nishioka (Japan) 6-1, 6-3, 6-4; Ivo Karlovic (Croatia) bt Yuichi Sugita (Japan) 7-6 (7-3), 6-7 (3-7), 7-5, 4-6, 12-10.
Second round: Luksika Kumkhum (Thailand) bt Belinda Bencic (Switzerland) 6-1, 6-3; Petra Martic (Croatia) bt Irina Begu (Romania) 6-4, 7-6 (7-3); Alize Cornet (France) bt 12-Julia Goerges (Germany) 6-4, 6-3; Denisa Allertova (Czech Republic) bt Shuai Zhang (China) 6-4, 7-6 (7-5); Magda Linette (Poland) bt 22-Daria Kasatkina (Russia) 7-6 (7-4), 6-2; Marta Kostyuk (Ukraine) bt Olivia Rogowska (Australia) 6-3, 7-5; 4-Elina Svitolina (Ukraine) bt Katerina Siniakova (Czech Republic) 4-6, 6-2, 6-1; 7-Jelena Ostapenko (Latvia) bt Duan Yingying (China) 6-3, 3-6, 6-4; 12-Anett Kontaveit (Estonia) bt Mona Barthel (Germany) 6-3, 4-6, 6-3; Kaia Kanepi (Estonia) bt Monica Puig (Puerto Rico) 6-4, 6-3; Katerina Bondarenko (Ukraine) bt 15-Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia) 6-2, 6-3; 19-Magdalena Rybarikova (Slovakia) bt Kirsten Flipkens (Belgium) 6-4, 0-6, 6-2; 30- Kiki Bertens (Netherlands) bt Nicole Gibbs (US) 7-6 (7-3), 6-0; 2-Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) bt Jana Fett (Croatia) 3-6, 6-2, 7-5.
Courtesy-Dawn, January 18th, 2018