Amanda Anisimova has caused an upset by taking out Naomi Osaka in a match of really high quality. Though it is an upset we all know what Anisimova can produce and this was a classic case of that. Osaka acknowledged that she didn’t do an awful lot wrong today and she even held a couple of match points on the American’s serve in the decider but ended up losing in a final set breaker. There were no such problems for top-seeded Ash Barty who will play Anisimova next after letting Camila Giorgi hit herself into the ground. The Aussie maximised the slice backhand to keep Giorgi on the move and I read that she hasn’t dropped serve since her first match of the season against Coco Gauff. Let’s see what happens against the American next but you would expect similar tactics.
Vika Azarenka rolled back the years and extended her head-to-head to 5/0 against Elina Svitolina, pumping her 6/0 6/2 in just sixty-seven minutes. It was a great all-court performance from Vika who is kind of going under the radar in Melbourne at the moment. She will face Barbora Krejcikova in the last 16 after she came from a set down to outlast and outfox Jelena Ostapenko. Krejcikova says she used to idolise Vika. So good is Azarenka’s form here that she is currently an 8/13 (1.61) favourite to make the quarters. Paula Badosa won another high-quality contest when she beat her good pal, Marta Kostyuk. If I had a pound for every time I have heard how Kostyuk is going to be the next big thing I would be very rich but she does seem to be making strides and closing the gap on the group as this effort shows (6/2 5/7 6/4).
Also through is Madison Keys who didn’t play as well as she has been but just edged out Qiang Wang in a final set breaker and will play Badosa on Sunday. Jessica Pegula beat Nuria Parrizas-Diaz in straights and she will play Maria Sakkari after the Greek put in a very accomplished display against an injured Veronika Kudermetova who had an abdominal injury.
Rafa Nadal upped his game nicely today to see off Karen Khachanov. Rafa raced into a two-set lead here before Khachanov pegged him back but this was more of a test to see where Nadal was at and he passed it. The forehand and backhand were purring and he finished off a lot of points at the net with a 88% strike rate when he stepped forward. Alex Zverev also moved into the last 16 with another straight-set win, this time over Radu Albot. The second serve once again showed a little vulnerability but when he needed to his level was far too good for the Moldovan. Sascha was joking in his on-court interview that he will “Probably get drunk sometime tonight, that’s very popular in Australia so why not try it out?” The crowd have divided opinion on the opening five days with some saying it has been too much and at times very disrespectful and others think it is great for the game. It has been quite the topic amongst players and in their interviews.
It is the end of the road for Carlos Alcaraz who came from two sets down against Matteo Berrettini only to lose in a final set breaker. Alcaraz got off to a slow start letting Berrettini dominate with his serve and forehand but then he made a real fight of it, maybe a little too much too late though. Berrettini fell over in the decider and there was a worry that he had hurt his ankle but we will have to wait to see and hear more about this. There is no doubt that Alcaraz is going to be some player though as Berrettini acknowledged after. Denis Shapovalov played his best match of the event so far as he beat Reilly Opelka in four. The Canadian tactically got it right today as he took the pace off his shots and made Opelka play plenty of backhands. It could be a very interesting match next against Zverev, one you would expect the German to prevail in but nevertheless, it should be entertaining.
Other winners today were Miomir Kecamanov in four over Lorenzo Sonego and Gael Monfils kept up his impressive form with a straight-set win over Christian Garin. The Frenchman did go over on his ankle in the first set but didn’t show any signs of this in sets two and three. Pablo Carreno Busta put an end to Sebastian Korda’s run with a four-set win. Korda looked unsurprisingly fatigued and that isn’t a good sign against PCB whose forehand was very dominant today by all accounts. Aslan Karatsev also ran out of steam as he lost to Adrian Mannarino in four. He lead by a break in the third at one set all but couldn’t keep his intensity up. It has been a lot of tennis for him and 85 unforced errors today tells it’s own story. One match too many against the tricky Frenchman.
Al Davies (Andy Del Potro).