MELBOURNE: Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios reached the Australian Open third round on Thursday after the weather-disrupted tournament faced a new challenge: dirty rain which left courts muddy and...
MELBOURNE: Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios reached the Australian Open third round on Thursday after the weather-disrupted tournament faced a new challenge: dirty rain which left courts muddy and unplayable.
After a day of clean-up operations and delays, Australia’s Kyrgios fought his way past Frenchman Gilles Simon in four sets and Wimbledon champion Simona Halep stamped her class with a win over Britain’s Harriet Dart.
Nadal, a 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-1 winner over Argentina’s Federico Delbonis, miscued a shot that hit a ballgirl in the head, but he melted hearts when he apologised and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
“I was so scared for her, honestly,” the 19-time Grand Slam winner said. “The ball was quick and straight on the head. She’s a very brave girl.”
Kyrgios, increasingly popular with home fans after his fundraising efforts for Australia’s bushfire crisis, was cruising at two sets up when he dropped the third set and with it, his composure.
But just when it looked like he would suffer one of his trademark implosions, he rallied for a 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 victory. “I definitely lost my way a little bit... but I decided to refocus,” Kyrgios said of his mini-meltdown in the third set. “I could have gone to a very dark place in the fourth set but I put it away.”
Kyrgios and Nadal stay on course for a fourth-round clash and the next instalment in their grudge match after the Aussie hit back at criticism from the “super salty” Spaniard last year.
Their victories followed a day of upheaval caused by the dirty rain, the latest weather problem at a tournament which has contended with bushfire smoke, heavy downpours and strong wind.
Rain mixed with a dust storm coated the Melbourne Park facilities in a fine layer of mud which took hours to clean and made many outside courts temporarily unusable.
As action resumed Alexander Zverev, another man who has a running feud with Kyrgios, showed signs of a return to form as he downed Egor Gerasimov 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 7-5. The German seventh seed has been practising up to seven hours a day after a winless ATP Cup and the hard work paid off as he safely reached the third round.
“Definitely much better than the ATP Cup. Now in the third round, I´m very happy about that,” said the 22-year-old, who beat Italy’s Marco Cecchinato in round one.
However, fifth seed Dominic Thiem had a scare as he was taken to five sets by Australia’s 140th-ranked Alex Bolt before recovering his composure to win 6-2, 5-7, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-2.
“It was all of a sudden a really tight third set that shouldn’t happen. That’s why I was freaking out inside and also outside today,” said the two-time French Open finalist.
A nosebleed was one of Daniil Medvedev’s biggest challenges in his win over Spanish qualifier Pedro Martinez, while Gael Monfils, who injured his racquet hand playing computer games before the tournament, downed Ivo Karlovic.
In the women’s draw Halep beat Dart 6-2, 6-4, while Belinda Bencic knocked out former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko — she was playing despite the sudden death of her father this month. Two-time Major winner Garbine Muguruza, who scaled Mount Kilimanjaro in the off-season as she searches for a return to form, dispatched home hope Ajla Tomljanovic 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. — AFP
Results: Men’s singles 2nd round: Rafael Nadal (ESP x1) bt Federico Del Bonis (ARG) 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-1; Pablo Carreno-Busta (ESP x27) bt Peter Gojowczyk (GER) 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-4; Nick Kyrgios (AUS x23) bt Gilles Simon (FRA) 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5; Karen Khachanov (RUS x16) bt Mikael Ymer (SWE) 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (10/8); Gael Monfils (FRA x10) bt Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 4-6, 7-6 (10/8), 6-4, 7-5; Ernests Gulbis (LAT) bt Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 7-5, 6-3, 6-2; Taylor Fritz (USA x29) bt Kevin Anderson (RSA) 4-6, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/4), 6-2, 6-2; Dominic Thiem (AUT x5) bt Alex Bolt (AUS) 6-2, 5-7, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-2; Daniil Medvedev (RUS x4) bt Pedro Martinez (ESP) 7-5, 6-1, 6-3; Alexei Popyrin (AUS) bt Jaume Munar (ESP) 6-2, 7-6 (7/5), 6-2; John Isner (USA x19) bt Alejandro Tabilo (CHI) 6-4, 6-3, 6-3; Stan Wawrinka (SUI x15) bt Andreas Seppi (ITA) 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4; David Goffin (BEL x11) bt Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 6-1, 6-4, 4-6, 1-6, 6-3; Andrey Rublev (RUS x17) bt Yuichi Sugita (JPN) 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5); Fernando Verdasco (ESP) bt Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO x26) 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 6-4; Alexander Zverev (GER x7) bt Egor Gerasimov (BLR) 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 7-5.
Women’s singles 2nd round: Belinda Bencic (SUI x6) bt Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 7-5, 7-5; Anett Kontaveit (EST x28) bt Sara Sorribes (ESP) 6-2, 4-6, 6-1; Donna Vekic (CRO x19) bt Alize Cornet (FRA) 6-4, 6-2; Iga Swiatek (POL) bt Carla Suarez (ESP) 6-3, 7-5; Elise Mertens (BEL x16) bt Heather Watson (GBR) 6-3, 6-0; Catherine Bellis (USA) bt Karolina Muchova (CZE x20) 6-4, 6-4; Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) bt Danielle Collins (USA x26) 6-4, 2-6, 7-5; Simona Halep (ROU x4) bt Harriet Dart (GBR) 6-2, 6-4; Garbine Muguruza (ESP) bt Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3; Zarina Diyas (KAZ) bt Anna Blinkova (RUS) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4; Kiki Bertens (NED x9) bt Arina Rodionova (AUS) 6-3, 7-5; Camila Giorgi (ITA) bt Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 6-3, 6-1; Angelique Kerber (GER x17) bt Priscilla Hon (AUS) 6-3, 6-2; Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS x30) bt Taylor Townsend (USA) 7-5, 7-6 (7/1); Karolina Pliskova (CZE x2) bt Laura Siegemund (GER) 6-3, 6-3.