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Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Australian Open 2021 Results, Day 5: Osaka, Serena, Thiem enjoy last of the crowds

Australian Open 2021 Results, Day 5: Naomi Osaka dominated her first career contest against Ons Jabeur to set up a meeting with Spain’s twice Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza.

By: Reuters | Melbourne |
Updated: February 12, 2021 7:53:09 pm
Naomi Osaka celebrating a point during her third-round Australian Open clash with Ons Jabeur. (Twitter/@AusOpen)

Continuing the high-octane action of the Australian Open, the play began on an overcast morning at Melbourne Park with the temperature a cool 18 degrees Celsius. The Victoria government reported five new locally-transmitted cases of COVID-19, taking the number of active cases in the state to 19.

OSAKA CRUISES PAST JABEUR

Naomi Osaka swept into the fourth round of the Australian Open on Friday with a 6-3 6-2 victory over Ons Jabeur in front of one of the last crowds allowed before Melbourne Park goes into lockdown.

The Japanese third seed pounded down eight aces as she dominated her first career contest against the Tunisian world number 30 to set up a meeting with Spain’s twice Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza.

“Thanks for coming out, it’s so great to play in front you,” Osaka said to the crowd on John Cain Arena before asking for, and receiving, a rendition of the local sporting chant “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi! Oi! Oi!”.

SERENA LOCKS DOWN TO BEAT POTAPOVA

As news broke on Friday that Melbourne would head into a snap lockdown to contain an outbreak of COVID-19, Serena Williams was already on court at the Australian Open playing potentially her last match in front of crowds at the tournament.

Williams completed a 7-6(5) 6-2 win in the sunshine at Rod Laver Arena then gushed about her daughter Olympia learning tennis in the on-court interview, drawing cheers from fans.

BARTY WITHDRAWS FROM DOUBLES

World number one Ash Barty withdrew from the Australian Open doubles on Friday, raising concerns over her fitness for the singles as she manages a thigh strain.

She and American Jennifer Brady were scheduled to play in the second round of the women’s doubles on Friday but withdrew from the match, handing Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka a walkover.

HALEP HOT-FOOTS IT INTO LAST-16

Second seed Simon Halep eased past Russian Veronika Kudermetova 6-1 6-3 to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open for the fourth straight year on Friday.

“It’s always tough to play someone who you have never played before,” said Halep, a finalist at Melbourne Park in 2018 and semi-finalist last year. “I improved a lot in my serve, I worked a lot on it in the off-season. I want to improve in every way.”

Up next is a last-16 encounter with the winner of Fiona Ferro’s later match against Iga Swiatek, the Polish teenager who downed Halep 6-1 6-2 at the same stage of last year’s French Open on her way to her maiden Grand Slam title.

DJOKOVIC SURVIVES INJURY SCARE

Top seed Novak Djokovic survived a major injury scare as he battled past American Taylor Fritz 7-6(1) 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-2 to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open on Friday.

Defending champion Djokovic, seeking a ninth title in Melbourne, looked in command when he took the opening two sets but began to suffer with a side injury early in the third set. He needed to leave Rod Laver Arena to have treatment and was grimacing in pain at times as the 23-year-old Fritz took advantage to take the next two sets.

But Djokovic, despite still looking in discomfort, did enough to win the deciding set and live to fight another day.

THIEM SURVIVES FIRED-UP KYRGIOS

Dominic Thiem produced a comeback for the ages to overhaul a fired-up Nick Kyrgios in a five-set classic at the Australian Open on Friday to send a baying crowd home in disappointment on the last night before a five-day lockdown in Melbourne.

In the bear-pit atmosphere of Kyrgios’s favourite John Cain Arena, U.S. Open champion Thiem dragged himself off the canvas to secure a thrilling 4-6 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-4 win over the Australian showman to reach the fourth round.

“That first match against Nick here on his favourite court with an amazing crowd, there are easier things to do,” said the Austrian third seed. “Surely that’s one of the toughest challenges in our sport. Tonight was epic and a good last match before the lock-down, it’s really sad to say.”

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