Highs and Lows
Max 26oC, sunny start with cloud arriving late afternoon
Johanna Konta cruised past Naomi Osaka into the third round where she will meet Caroline Wozniacki, but Heather Watson failed to convert any of her five match points as she lost to American qualifier Jennifer Brady 2-6 7-6(3) 10-8.
Kyle Edmund lost to Pablo Carreno Busta, needing his toenail taped up on the way. The Spanish No.30 seed goes on to face Novak Djokovic’s conqueror Denis Istomin in the third round.
In the men’s doubles, defending champions Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares were defeated in the first round by Sam Querrey and Donald Young 3-6 6-7(3). “They served unbelievable under pressure and they took the match,” said Soares.
Ken and Neal Skupski lost to Colombian No.14 seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 6-3 6-4.
Rafa on a roll
Following Djokovic’s shock second round exit, Rafael Nadal is the only man left in the bottom half of the draw to have won a Grand Slam title. Or 14 to be precise. Perhaps he felt the Australian Open crowds had had enough shock for one day, but in the final match on Rod Laver Arena, the 2009 champion wasted little time as he powered past Marcos Baghdatis 6-3 6-1 6-3 to set up a third round clash with Alexander Zverev.
No.24 seed Zverev and Frances Tiafoe served up a taste of what’s to come at the Inaugural Next Gen tournament in Milan later this year. Qualifier Tiafoe could not match the firepower of his friend. “He’s a lot more disciplined I’d say,” said Tiafoe. “He plays it tight he doesn’t play too many loose points, I think that was the difference.” The 19-year-old German equalled his Grand Slam best result making it to the third round. Sascha was still patiently signing autographs and taking photos with a lot of young fans when most spectators had left Court 2.
Boom Boom Boom Boom
David Goffin’s reward for beating Radek Stepanek is a third round meeting with Ivo Karlovic who served 75 aces against Horacio Zeballos on Tuesday. At least the 5’11” Belgian had plenty of returning practice in his first round against 6’11” Reilly Opelka.
“I had the chance to play against a big guy in the first round I don’t know if it’s a good thing,” said Goffin, who joked that if Opelka was still around perhaps he could practise with him on Friday. “I will try to do the same thing, just get back in the locker room with a win.”
Agnieszka Radwanska has never been beaten by Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in their two previous meetings, but today it happened. Baroni, who had not won a main draw match in Melbourne since 1998 until she defeated her first round opponent here, today put out the third seed in straight sets, 6-3 6-2, hitting 33 winners to Radwanska’s eight.
Dimitrov holds on
Grigor Dimitrov continued his path through the draw, dropping the first set to Korea’s Hyeon Chung but eventually taking his place in the third round, where he will meet Richard Gasquet. The Bulgarian, who won the Brisbane International a fortnight ago, has flown under the radar so far, but with Djokovic out, he will now one of the favourites to reach the semi-finals.
Practice makes perfect
As he practised on an outside court at Melbourne Park on Thursday, Andy Murray showed no signs of any injury to his ankle, which he twisted during his second round win against Andrey Rublev. Murray and Dan Evans both play on fan favourite Hisense Arena on Friday afternoon.
Two matches, two hours
Karolina Pliskova is clearly in no mood to hang around. On Thursday she beat qualifier Anna Blinkova 6-0 6-2 in just 59 minutes to set up a third round meeting with Latvian Jelena Ostapenko. Pliskova, who needed just 61 minutes to complete her first round match, has spent a grand total of two hours on court so far, leaving her plenty of time to talk tactics with twin sister Kristyna, who takes on world No.1 Angelique Kerber on Friday.
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