Home / Sports / Serena, Djokovic make speedy progress at rain-hit Open

Serena, Djokovic make speedy progress at rain-hit Open

MELBOURNE: Serena Williams stepped up her drive for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam on Thursday by swatting aside Eugenie Bouchard, as world number one Novak Djokovic won an emotional 2008 Aust­r­alian Open final rematch with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

But women’s top seed Simona Halep and young gun Alexander Zverev had to dig deep to make the third round on a day of epic battles and the latest start to a match ever at the tournament.

American great Williams, who at 37 is seeded 16th here, followed up her first round 49-minute romp by spending just 70 minutes on Rod Laver Arena to dispose of the Canadian 6-2, 6-2.

Serbian top seed Djokovic is also looking to make history by winning a seventh title. He was too good again for France’s Tsonga, who he beat in the 2008 final, rolling through 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.

In contrast, world No.1 Halep staggered through against American Sofia Kenin 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4 — her second three-set test in a row. The French Open champion now meets Venus Williams after the 38-year-old rolled back the years to beat France’s Alize Cornet.

In another titanic battle, Canadian Milos Raonic ousted 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka in four tightly-contested sets that all went to tie-breaks, while eighth seed Kei Nishikori was stretched to a draining five sets against Ivo Karlovic.

Seventh seed Dominic Thiem limped out when he retired while losing 7-5, 6-4, 2-0 to young Australian wildcard Alexei Popyrin.

Zverev, hailed as a flag-bearer for the next generation, also struggled against veteran world number 36 Jeremy Chardy, before putting him away 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 5-7, 6-7 (6-8), 6-1.

Amid rain delays and drawn-out matches, Spain’s Garbine Muguruza and Britain’s Johanna Konta didn’t get on court until half-past midnight — the latest start to a match in the event’s history. Muguruza triumphed after Konta won the second set on a tie-breaker.

AUSTRIA’S Dominic Thiem plays a backhand return to Alexei Popyrin of Australia during their men’s singles match. — AFP
AUSTRIA’S Dominic Thiem plays a backhand return to Alexei Popyrin of Australia during their men’s singles match. — AFP

US Open champion and fourth seed Naomi Osaka had it relatively easy, sweeping past Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek 6-2, 6-4 with the roof closed on Margaret Court Arena due to the rain.

The 21-year-old’s breakthrough at Flushing Meadow over Serena Williams last year made her a new standard bearer for tennis in her Japanese homeland and Asia, and she is working hard on living up to the hype as set up a clash with Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei.

In contrast, Asia’s top-ranked men’s player Nishikori needed an energy-sapping 3hr 48min to get past big-serving Croat Karlovic 6-3, 7-6 (8-6), 5-7, 5-7, 7-6 (10-7) in humid conditions.

Sixteenth seed Raonic emerged the victor against Wawrinka, a three-time Grand Slam champion who is on the comeback trail from injury.

The Swiss, unseeded for the first time since his debut in 2006, fell 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (13-11), 7-6 (7-5).

Despite being seeded six and seven respectively, neither Elina Svitolina nor Karolina Pliskova has progressed further than the last eight at the Australian Open.

But self-assured Svitolina is bubbling with confidence after dismantling Viktoria Kuzmova 6-4, 6-1, while Pliskova woke up after losing the first set to race past Madison Brengle 4-6, 6-1, 6-0.

Other women through include Italy’s Camila Giorgi and China’s impressive Wang Qiang. Men still in the hunt included Croat Borna Coric and Spain’s Pablo Carreno-Busta.

Thursday’s results (prefix number denotes seeding):

Men’s singles:

Second round: 8-Kei Nishikori (Japan) bt Ivo Karlovic (Croatia) 6-3, 7-6 (8-6), 5-7, 5-7, 7-6 (10-7); 11-Borna Coric (Croatia) bt Marton Fucsovics (Hungary) 6-4, 6-3, 6-4; 23-Pablo Carreno-Busta (Spain) bt Ilya Ivashka (Belarus) 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (9-7); 12-Fabio Fognini (Italy) bt Leonardo Mayer (Argentina) 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 7-6 (7-5); Joao Sousa (Portugal) bt 32-Philipp Kohlschreiber (Germany) 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 5-7, 6-4; Pierre-Hugues Herbert (France) bt 24-Chung Hyeon (South Korea) 6-2, 1-6, 6-2, 6-4; 16-Milos Raonic (Canada) bt Stan Wawrinka (Switzerland) 6-7 (4-7), 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (13-11), 7-6 (7-5); 25-Denis Shapovalov (Canada) bt Taro Daniel (Japan) 6-3, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3; 21-David Goffin (Belgium) bt Marius Copil (Romania) 5-7, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4; 15-Daniil Medvedev (Russia) bt Ryan Harrison (US) 6-3, 6-3, 6-3; Filip Krajinovic (Serbia) bt Evgeny Donskoy (Russia) 6-4, 7-6 (10-8), 7-6 (7-2); Alexei Popyrin (Australia) bt 7-Dominic Thiem (Austria) 7-5, 6-4, 2-0 — Thiem retired; Alex Bolt (Australia) bt 29-Gilles Simon (France) 2-6, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (10-8), 6-4; 28-Lucas Pouille (France) bt Maximilian Marterer (Germany) 7-6 (10-8), 7-6 (10-8), 5-7, 6-4; 1-Novak Djokovic (Serbia) bt Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (France) 6-3, 7-5, 6-4; 4-Alexander Zverev (Germany) bt Jeremy Chardy (France) 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 5-7, 6-7 (6-8), 6-1.

Women’s singles:

Second round: 27-Camila Giorgi (Italy) bt Iga Swiatek (Poland) 6-2, 6-0; 21-Wang Qiang (China) bt Aleksandra Krunic (Serbia) 6-2, 6-3; 6-Elina Svitolina (Ukraine) bt Viktoria Kuzmova (Slovakia) 6-4, 6-1; 7-Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) bt Madison Brengle (US) 4-6, 6-1, 6-0; 13-Anastasija Sevastova (Latvia) bt Bianca Andreescu (Canada) 6-3, 3-6, 6-2; 12-Elise Mertens (Belgium) bt Margarita Gasparyan (Russia) 6-1, 7-5; 28-Hsieh Su-wei (Taiwan) bt Laura Siegemund (Germany) 6-3, 6-4; 17-Madison Keys (US) bt Anastasia Potapova (Russia) 6-3, 6-4; Timea Bacsinszky (Switzerland) bt Natalia Vikhlyantseva (Russia) 6-2, 7-5; 4-Naomi Osaka (Japan) bt Tamara Zidansek (Slovenia) 6-2, 6-4; Zhang Shuai (China) bt Kristyna Pliskova (Czech Republic) 6-3, 7-5; 1-Simona Halep (Romania) bt Sofia Kenin (US) 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4; Venus Williams (US) bt Alize Cornet (France) 6-3, 4-6, 6-0; Dayana Yastremska (Ukraine) bt 23-Carla Suarez (Spain) 6-3, 3-6, 6-1; 16-Serena Williams (US) bt Eugenie Bouchard (Canada) 6-2, 6-2; 18-Garbine Muguruza (Spain) bt Joanna Konta (Great Britain) 6-4, 6-7 (3-7); 7-5.

Check Also

New Zealand coach urges players to block out hype around T20 World Cup opener against Pakistan

New Zealand cricket team coach Gary Stead has urged his players to block out the …