Aus­tralian Open: Kyr­gios sets up clash with Nadal

Six of the top ten seeds crash out in women’s sin­gles

Muscat Daily - - FRONT PAGE -

Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia - Home favourite Nick Kyr­gios went five sets to en­sure an Aus­tralian Open show­down with Rafael Nadal on Satur­day as a se­ries of shocks caused car­nage in the women's draw.

Kyr­gios sur­vived the long­est match of his ca­reer to beat Rus­sia’s Karen Khachanov 6-2, 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (6/8), 6-7 (7/9), 76 (10/8), col­laps­ing on his back after the fifth-set tie-breaker.

“That was in­sane - I’ve got no words to how I’m feel­ing right now,” he said, after the 4hr 26min marathon marked by his trade­mark tween­ers and ex­changes with the um­pire.

“This is just epic man, I don’t even know what's go­ing on. My legs feel about 40 ki­los each.”

The out­spo­ken Aussie now heads into a last-16 clash with Nadal, with whom he has his­tory after call­ing him ‘ su­per salty’ fol­low­ing crit­i­cism from the Spa­niard last year.

“What­ever hap­pens be­tween us, he’s an amaz­ing player, he’s ar­guably the great­est of all time,” said Kyr­gios.

Top seed Nadal had a com­par­a­tively easy ride against his Davis Cup team-mate Pablo Car­reno Busta, rac­ing through 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in what he called his ‘best match of the tour­na­ment so far’.

While the men’s Big Three of Nadal, Roger Fed­erer and No­vak Djokovic are all still alive, it’s a dif­fer­ent story in the women’s com­pe­ti­tion where six of the top ten seeds crashed out in the third round.

After Ser­ena Wil­liams and ti­tle-holder Naomi Osaka fell by the way­side on Fri­day, sec­ond seed Karolina Pliskova bombed on Satur­day with a 7-6 (7/4), 76 (7/3) de­feat to Anas­ta­sia Pav­lyuchenkov­a.

“I was about 40 per cent to­day of my game,” lamented the Czech.

Resur­gent Mugu­ruza

Switzer­land’s Belinda Ben­cic, the sixth seed, won only one game against Es­to­nia’s Anett Kon­taveit, the world num­ber 31, as she went down 6-0, 6-1.

And a resur­gent Gar­bine Mugu­ruza, a two-time Ma­jor­win­ner, thrashed fifth seed Elina Svi­tolina 6-1, 6-2. Tenth seed Madi­son Keys lost to Maria Sakkari on Fri­day.

“I was very con­cen­trated and fo­cused on what I wanted to do, it all went fast my way,” said

Mugu­ruza, who raced through the first set in just 23 min­utes.

Croa­t­ian 19th seed Donna Ve­kic also crum­bled to low­er­ranked op­po­si­tion when she lost 7-5, 6-3 to Poland’s Iga Swiatek, who is re­turn­ing from a stress frac­ture in her foot.

How­ever, Wim­ble­don cham­pion Si­mona Halep stayed on course with a 6-1, 6-4 vic­tory over Kaza­khstan’s Yu­lia Putint­seva. “I’m sure that for you guys (me­dia) it’s a lit­tle bit of shock when the top-10 play­ers are los­ing,” said Halep, shrug­ging off the ex­o­dus of top seeds.

“But it’s life and we can­not be 100 per­cent ev­ery day.”

The Romanian fourth seed will now play Bel­gium's Elise Mertens, who won in three sets against CiCi Bel­lis - end­ing the Amer­i­can's Grand Slam re­turn from long-term in­jury.

An­gelique Ker­ber, the 2016 cham­pion, beat Camila Giorgi 62, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3 to set up a meet­ing with Pav­lyuchenkov­a, the Rus­sian 30th seed.

Else­where, Ger­many’s Alexan­der Zverev dis­missed Fer­nando Ver­dasco 6-2, 6-2, 64 to set up a last-16 clash with Rus­sia’s An­drey Rublev, who re­mained un­beaten this year with his 2-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) win over David Gof­fin.

Aus­trian fifth seed Do­minic Thiem came through 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4 against Tay­lor Fritz, Gael Monfils beat Ernests Gul­bis 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, 6-3 and Stanis­las Wawrinka, the 2014 cham­pion, pro­gressed when John Is­ner re­tired in the sec­ond set.

Other seeded player re­sults (x de­notes seed­ing): Men’s third round: Daniil Medvedev (x4) beat Alexei Popy­rin 6-4, 63, 6-2; Gael Monfils (x10) bt Ernests Gul­bis 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, 6-3; Do­minic Thiem (x5) beat Tay­lor Fritz (x29) 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4; Stanis­las Wawrinka (x15) beat John Is­ner (x19) 6-4, 4-1 ret.; An­drey Rublev (x17) beat David Gof­fin (x11) 2-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) Women’s sin­gles third round: Kiki Bertens (x9) beat Za­rina Diyas 6-2, 7-6 (7/3); Anett Kon­taveit (x28) beat Belinda Ben­cic (x6) 6-0, 6-1; Iga Swiatek beat Donna Ve­kic (x19) 7-5, 63; Elise Mertens (x16) bt Cather­ine Bel­lis 6-1, 6-7 (5/7), 6-0; Anas­ta­sia Pav­lyuchenkov­a (x30) bt Karolina Pliskova (x2) 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/3).

Nick Kyr­gios

Gar­bine Mugu­ruza

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