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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Australian Open: Rafael Nadal, Nick Kyrgios cruise into the third round

Rafael Nadal beat Leonardo Mayer 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4) to reach the third round of Australian Open on Wednesday.

By: AP | Updated: January 17, 2018 7:43:09 pm
Rafael Nadal Rafael Nadal wasted no time in reaching the third round. (Source: Reuters)

Rafael Nadal, the 2017 runner-up, wasted no time in reaching the third round, dropping only one service game _ while serving for the match _ and making just 10 unforced errors in a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4) win over Leonardo Mayer on Wednesday.

“It’s an important victory for me, I mean, he’s a tough opponent. Leonardo is a player with big potential,” said Nadal, who won the French and U.S. Opens last year but had his preparation for Australia delayed because of an injured right knee. “After a while without being on the competition … second victory in a row, that’s very important.”

Kyrgios keeps cool to fly into third round

Nick Kyrgios Nick Kyrgios claimed an impressive 7-5 6-4 7-6(2) victory. (Source: Reuters)

Nick Kyrgios’s new-found focus remained intact despite a night of distractions as the fiery home favourite outplayed Serbia’s Viktor Troicki to reach the Australian Open third round without conceding a set on Wednesday.

The 17th seed dealt with a bellowing fan, a malfunctioning umpire’s microphone and was distracted by a helicopter early in the second set but remained in firm control to claim an impressive 7-5 6-4 7-6(2) victory.

A year after the 22-year-old was jeered by home fans after surrendering a two-set lead against Italian Andreas Seppi to crash out in the second round, he produced more evidence that a run deep into the second week is possible.

Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 2008 Australian Open runner-up, is next up for Kyrgios who is shouldering his nation’s hopes of a first home men’s champion since Mark Edmondson in 1976.

The 31-year-old Troicki provided a useful gauge of Kyrgios’s form and fitness, but it was the Australian’s relative calmness in the face of adversity that stood out.

He was already a set in front when a fan decided to make a name for himself by standing up in the front row in the Hisense Arena and began bellowing while filming himself.

Then a couple of games later a red helicopter hovered above the court, drowning out the sound of the ball being struck.

There was plenty of chuntering from Kyrgios but apart from “freaking out” after a late lapse when he dropped serve at 5-4 in the third, he stuck diligently to his task.

Dimitrov scrapes into 3rd round at Aussie Open

Dimitrov Grigor Dimitrov has scraped into the third round of the Australian Open. (Source: Reuters)

Third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov has scraped into the third round of the Australian Open _ just _ with a tough five-set win over 186th-ranked qualifier Mackenzie McDonald, a former NCAA champion from Los Angeles.

Dimitrov beat the 22-year-old McDonald 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 0-6, 8-6 in a late-night match at Rod Laver Arena that went nearly 3 1-2 hours.

McDonald double-faulted to set up match point, then netted a forehand to give Dimitrov the win.

McDonald won the NCAA singles and doubles title for UCLA in 2016. He had never won an ATP or Grand Slam singles match in four attempts until his victory in the first round over a fellow qualifier on Monday.

Karlovic becomes oldest man in third round for 40 years

Ivo Karlovic Ivo Karlovic became the oldest man to reach the third round of the Australian Open. (Source: Reuters)

Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic became the oldest man to reach the third round of the Australian Open for 40 years when he edged Japan’s Yuichi Sugita in five sets in searing heat on Wednesday.

Old warrior Karlovic, 39 next month, served down 53 aces as he came through 7-6(3) 6-7(3) 7-5 4-6 12-10 in four hours, 33 minutes — the longest match in the tournament so far.

He will face Italian Andreas Seppi in round three when he will be the oldest player to contest that round since Ken Rosewall, aged 44, in 1978 when the draw was only 64.

It is the second year running the giant from Zagreb has been involved in marathon match here, having banged down a Melbourne record 75 aces last year on his way to a first-round win against Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos, sneaking the fifth set 22-20.

“I’m happy but also very tired,” the 2.11m Karlovic, who towered over Sugita, told reporters.

“I was already feeling it at the beginning of the third set but I just focused on my serve.”

Karlovic faced four break points in the second game of the deciding set but saved all four, one with a second-serve ace. He then struck decisively in the 21st game of the set when he moved forward to force a forehand error from his opponent.

He completed victory a game later with a nerveless backhand volley and now sets his sights on another battle.

Karlovic, a gentle giant off the court, said he still loved the combat and would keep playing as long as his serve keeps firing him to victories like Wednesday’s.

“I still like it, that’s why I’m still here and doing it,” he said. “We’ll see how much longer I carry on.”

Turning his thoughts to Seppi, he said he was prepared for another slog.

“It’s going to be very tough because he returns unbelievably,” he said. “I will try to play my game and we will see. It’s going to be very hot and that will make my serve a little faster. But it will not be easy.”

Inputs from Reuters/AP

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