It was breezy-easy for the Top 10 men on Friday at the Australian Open, where temperatures remained high, but the on-court time for the top contenders remained low after straight-set wins.
Moving into the fourth round in straights were No. 2 Novak Djokovic, No. 3 David Ferrer, No. 7 Tomas Berdych, and No. 8 Stan Wawrinka.
“It was a miracle when I won the second set,” said the grinding Ferrer, who got off the court with a 6-2, 7-6(5), 6-2 win over No. 29-ranked Frenchman Jeremy Chardy. “I was so many set balls down. These conditions are tough for me. I am a fitness player — I need to run for every point and so it’s not easy to play tennis in these conditions. But I am a fighter.”
Berdych ended the run of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Damir Dzumhur 6-4, 6-2, 6-2, and Wawrinka received a walkover against the injured Vasek Pospisil of Canada.
“I think I went through couple of challenges through those three matches,” said Berdych of his journey thus far in Melbourne. “But I played three guys, two of them I haven’t seen before. The one I’ve seen but never played before. Today was, I would say, really the hottest conditions that I ever experienced on court, especially in the first two sets, one and a half sets.”
In the final night match, Djokovic defeated Denis Istomin 6-3, 6-3, 7-5 ending after 8 a.m. ET.
Other seeded winners were No. 15 Fabio Fognini rolling American Sam Querrey in straights, No. 17 Tommy Robredo ousting No. 9 Richard Gasquet from a set down, and No. 19 Kevin Anderson coming from two sets down to defeat Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-5 in the third.
“The match changed so much just in the last 15 minutes,” said Anderson who broke back late in the fifth set. “Sitting down there at 5-4, going out to return serve, knowing sort of it’s your one last shot. Just tried to play a solid game and somehow managed to get a break. Had to fight again. But then sitting at 6-5, I’ve got a little bit of momentum. Made a really good return on the last thing. Seeing the ball go long definitely produced quite a bit of emotion at the end.”
German Florian Mayer was the only unseeded player to take down a seed on Friday, upending No. 20 Jerzy Janowicz 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.
“Most important was I didn’t practice for two months,” said Janowicz, who detailed a broken bone in his foot he has been dealing with. “I just came to Sydney without absolutely any practice, and I didn’t have opportunity for to prepare myself for long matches. Still, I’m anyway happy I was able to go to this third round. My second-round match was also over three hours. I’m anyway really happy, because I didn’t expect I’m going to be third round without practicing.”
On the women’s side Friday, Casey Dellacqua never pictured herself as the last Australian women standing during the fortnight, but that was the reality after the No. 120-ranked 11-year tour veteran beat China’s Jie Zheng to advance into the fourth round, while No. 17-ranked Aussie Sam Stosur exited the event at the hands of No. 14 Ana Ivanovic 6-7(8), 6-4, 6-2.
“I’ve been training in this heat and I was happy to be out here in Rod Laver [Arena] again,” said Dellacqua, who tied her career-best Aussie Open result from 2008 when she reached the fourth round with wins over Patty Schnyder and Amelie Mauresmo. “It feels pretty good, I didn’t know if I’d ever be back in the fourth round of the Australian Open or any Grand Slam.”
She will next meet No. 30 Eugenie Bouchard, who eased past American Lauren Davis 6-2, 6-2.
Stosur had praise for the free-swinging Ivanovic after her defeat.
“Ana came out swinging,” Stosur said. “I thought she returned great tonight. I think as that third set went on, she kind of, I don’t know what she was feeling obviously, but I thought she was kind of up there. I felt like I had to hit very good serves and really hit my spots to make it that I was going to be on top of the point. Then the last couple of games where she broke me she played unbelievable.”
World No. 1 Serena led the top 10-seeded winners on Friday, putting down a stern challenge from Slovak veteran and No. 31 seed Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 6-3.
“I feel good to have gotten through that one because it was tough conditions out there, but I was happy to win,” said Serena after getting out of the heat. “Today actually wasn’t as hot. I think it was more hot yesterday. So it wasn’t as bad today. Honestly, on the one end I felt it was like a cool breeze coming over, so that was a good sign.”
Serena skipped the immediate post-match interviews after coming off the court, with initial reports of her feeling dizziness, but the world No. 1 denied the claim and would not elaborate when finally coming out of the locker room.
“Oh, no,” she said. “I had some pressing things I needed to take care of.”
Serena will next meet Ivanovic.
“I think she is doing really well,” Serena said of the Serb. “She’s on a little winning streak herself.”
Other Top 10-seeded winners were No. 4 Li Na coming from a set down to defeat No. 26 Lucie Safarova 1-6, 7-6(2), 6-3, and No. 9 Angie Kerber topping unseeded American Alison Riske 6-3, 6-4.
“I lose the first set, is pretty easy, fast,” said Na, who found herself trailing 1-6 after hitting more unforced errors than points won in the first set. “I was thinking about, OK, if you continue like this, go home. Otherwise, I mean, is no other choice. So I have to change something on the court very quickly because the opponent didn’t give you much time you can cover there. Like I say before, only I can do is play ball back to the court, run whole court to see if I can get a chance.”
Na will next face No. 22 Ekaterina Makarova who defeated Romanian Monica Niculescu 6-4, 6-4.
Also into the fourth round Friday was No. 28 Flavia Pennetta who handled German Mona Barthel 6-1, 7-5.
Matches to look for Saturday in Melbourne include (3) Maria Sharapova vs. (25) Alize Cornet, (6) Roger Federer vs. Teymuraz Gabashvili, (1) Rafael Nadal vs. (25) Gael “Force” Monfils, (5) Aggie Radwanska vs. (29) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, (4) Andy Murray vs. (26) Feliciano Lopez, an all-French in (10) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. (18) Gilles Simon, (11) Milos “The Missile” Raonic vs. (22) Grigor Dimitrov, and car-crash American Donald Young vs. (16) Kei Nishikori.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
Serena Williams has won her last 25 matches, her second-longest win streak of her career… Novak Djokovic’s win streak is up to 27 overall and 24 at the Australian Open…. The record heatwave is finally over. After four days of 100F plus, temperatures this evening at the Australian Open plunged in hours from a high of 109F into the low 70s. Let’s see the US Open do that!… Until this week Fabio Fognini had one career match win at the Australian Open…. Sam Stosur has made the US Open quarterfinals three times including a title run, but has never reached the last eight at the Australian Open… Is the Australian Open the first tennis event to ever have a heat delay and a rain delay on the same day?…. Donald Young is the last American man left in the field…. In her presser today Serena Williams was asked if she was dizzy before the match. According to ESPN Venus took the fall for the doubles withdrawal because Serena was not 100%… Andy Murray is on a 23-point winning streak… Stephane Robert and Martin Klizan will play in an attempt to become the first lucky loser through to the round of 16 at Melbourne Park. It is the first time 2 lucky losers are playing each other in the 3rd round at a Grand Slam since 1973 Wimbledon…. Kevin Anderson had never come from two sets down until this week. Now he’s done it twice… Tomas Berdych has beaten Anderson all nine times they’ve played since the start of 2012 including in Melbourne the last two years… Gilles Simon was on crutches last weekend. After 2 5-set wins he’ll be back on court tomorrow against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Simon has won 8 of his last 9 against fellow Frenchmen.
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