Caroline Garcia yesterday became the latest top-10 seed to fall at the Australian Open, with a shock defeat to Magda Linette, while Taiwan’s Chan Hao-ching advanced to the quarter-finals of the women’s doubles.
This is the first Grand Slam since the Open era began in 1968 to lose the top two seeds in both the men’s and women’s singles before the last eight.
There have been a series of surprise results at Melbourne Park and Poland’s unseeded Linette got in on the action with a 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 victory over fourth seed Garcia.
World No. 45th Linette said that she “couldn’t believe it” as she reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final at the age of 30.
She faces Karolina Pliskova after the former world No. 1 romped past China’s Zhang Shuai 6-0, 6-4.
Linette gave a sizeable contingent of red-and-white-clad Polish fans at Rod Laver Arena plenty to cheer, just 24 hours after they saw countrywoman and top seed Iga Swiatek bundled out.
“I still can’t believe it, I don’t know what happened,” Linette said. “I’m speechless, really. I don’t know what to say.”
Fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka never really looked like she would follow Swiatek, Garcia and the rest out of the first major of the year.
Along with third seed Jessica Pegula of the US, Sabalenka looks the woman to beat. Both are chasing a maiden Grand Slam crown.
Sabalenka defeated dangerous 12th seed Belinda Bencic 7-5, 6-2 to set up a quarter-final against unseeded Donna Vekic, who beat 17-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova in three sets.
“My whole life, it took me a little while to understand that negative emotion is not gonna help you on court,” Sabalenka said. “You have to just stay strong and believe no matter what, and then do everything you can.”
In the third round of the women’s doubles, Taiwan’s Chan and Yang Zhaoxuan of China defeated Alison van Uytvanck of Belgium and Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine 6-3, 7-5 to set up a quarter-final against American duo Coco Gauff and Pegula.
In the men’s singles, Novak Djokovic steamrolled local hope Alex de Minaur 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 to ease into the quarter-finals with a statement win in his quest for a 10th title at the Grand Slam.
Djokovic drew first blood after a breathless start to the match when De Minaur crashed a forehand into the net to allow the fourth seed to go up 4-2, and the Serbian consolidated the break and struck again to claim the first set.
Having never lost at Melbourne Park since the fourth round in 2018, the 35-year-old was in no mood to give De Minaur a sniff of a chance on Rod Laver Arena, as he raced out of the blocks and dominated his opponent with blistering shots on both wings.
Up two sets to love and with his heavily-strapped hamstring cooperating after scares in the previous two rounds, Djokovic moved in for the kill by taking the first four games of the third and finished in style to gear up for a qaurter-final against fifth seed Andrey Rublev.
Rublev saved two match points to topple Danish teenager Holger Rune in a five-set marathon.
In a battle of two former junior world No. 1s, the Russian broke when Rune was serving for the match, then saved two match points before winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (11/9) in sapping heat on Rod Laver Arena.
“It’s not like a roller coaster, it’s like they put a gun to your head. A roller coaster is easier,” said the exhausted Russian of the epic clash.
Also into the quarter-finals after another grueling clash in the heat was Ben Shelton, the unseeded 20-year-old American who is on his first trip outside the US.
His dream run at the Australian Open gathered pace with a 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 victory over friend and fellow American J.J. Wolf.
Shelton is only the fourth man in the past 20 years to reach the Melbourne quarter-finals on debut.
“I really focused in the fifth set, just being energetic, trusting my fitness and just hustling, being courageous and I thought I did a really good job of competing at the highest level in the fifth set,” the 89th-ranked American said.
Twenty-one-year-old Taiwanese pitcher Lee Chen-hsun on Wednesday said that he hoped to make it to the majors before he turns 26, after signing with the San Francisco Giants earlier this week. Lee signed an US$800,000 contract with the Giants, consisting of a US$650,000 signing bonus and US$150,000 education allowance, as Major League Baseball’s international signing period opened this week. “I hope to get to the majors before I turn 26,” Lee said at a news conference announcing the signing in Taipei on Wednesday. “Because that age is the peak moment of an athlete’s career, if it’s not going well beyond that time,
Australian Open director Craig Tiley yesterday insisted that there was “no need” to alter the scheduling at the tournament, despite stinging criticism after the second-latest match finish at a Grand Slam. Veteran Andy Murray battled through a five-set epic against home hope Thanasi Kokkinakis which ended at 4:05am yesterday morning to reach the third round, calling the early hours conclusion “a bit of a farce.” “I don’t know who it’s beneficial for. A match like that, we come here after the match and that’s what the discussion is,” the 35-year-old Briton said after the 5 hours, 45 minutes spectacle, the longest of
Tennis Australia yesterday banned Russian and Belarusian flags at the Australian Open after Ukraine’s ambassador demanded action when they were seen among the crowd. Moscow called the ban an “unacceptable politicization of sports.” The red, white and blue stripes of Russia were held up by fans during Monday’s first-round clash between Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl and Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova on day one. Ukrainian fans reportedly called security and police to the stands. A Russian flag was also unfurled on Rod Laver Arena during Daniil Medvedev’s clash with the US’ Marcos Giron. “Flags from Russia and Belarus are banned onsite at the Australian Open,” Tennis Australia wrote
Awaiting a new topic during a pre-Australian Open news conference, Caroline Garcia — someone skilled and smart enough to reach the US Open semifinals and win the season-ending WTA Finals last year — was worried the next query could involve naming possible opponents. “I don’t want to know the draw,” Garcia said, raising her left hand as if to literally deflect the subject. “I don’t know my draw.” She is hardly the only athlete making that claim at Melbourne Park during the year’s first Grand Slam tournament, where the second round begins today. It is a rather common refrain among tennis players