The quarter-final picture will be completed on Monday as the Australian Open begins to reach the pointy end of the tournament.
The start of the second week is headlined by Aussie Alex de Minaur’s monster showdown with nine-time champion Novak Djokovic.
The upsets and drama kept coming on Sunday and it was almost midnight by the time Stefanos Tsitsipas won a dramatic five set thriller over 15th seed Jannik Sinner. It was past 2am AEDT when two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka completed a miraculous comeback to eliminate World No. 87 Zhu Lin.
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The action began on Monday with No. 5 seed Aryna Sabalenka sending a message to the rest of the draw with a powerful 7-5 6-2 win over No. 12 seed Belinda Bencic.
No. 4 seed Caroline Garcia is now on court facing Poland’s Magda Linette.
In the men’s draw, which has lost six of its top 10 seeds, Russia’s Andrey Rublev plays Danish teenager Holger Rune in an encounter between the fifth and ninth seeds.
5.45pm — Blockbuster contest going the distance
Andrey Rublev and Holger Rune are heading to a deciding fifth set after four engrossing sets on Rod Laver Arena.
Neither man has been able to completely stamp their authority on the contest with Rublev winning the first and third set and Rune taking the second and fourth.
5pm — Demon called out by girlfriend
Alex de Minaur has been put on blast by his girlfriend ahead of his showdown with Novak Djokovic on Monday night.
The man known as the “Demon” comfortably took care of business in straight sets on Saturday night against Benjamin Bonzi to set up the fourth round encounter as the 21-time Grand Slam winner.
De Minaur attempted to hype up the contest with a post to his Instagram account as he uploaded several photos alongside the caption: “Tomorrow 7pm RLA, it’s a date. See you soon.”
Unfortunately for the Aussie he was called out on the post by his girlfriend, Katie Boulter. The two have been dating since March 2020, but the British player took issue with the post.
Boulter, tongue in cheek, commented under the post: “Who’s RLA and why they taking you on a date?”
2.50pm — Fourth seed sent packing
Women’s fourth seed Caroline Garcia is out of the Australian Open after falling in straight seets to unseeded Magda Linette.
Linette dominated her opponent in blistering conditions to claim the 7-6, 6-4 victory and book a spot in the quarterfinals.
Garcia, who won the WTA Finals last season, raced away to an early 3-1 lead in the first set before Linette flipped the momentum and put her to the sword.
The Polish star is through to her first ever Grand Slam quarterfinal in her 30th appearance and will now go up against former world number one Karolina Pliskova.
12.45pm — ‘Holy s***’: Star blows tennis world away
Aryna Sabalenka has made a statement in a straight-sets win over Belinda Bencic on Rod Laver Arena.
Sabalenka fired 30 winners in the 7-6 6-2 match where she came back from 4-2 down in the first set before winning 11 of the final 14 service games.
She was playing almost flawless tennis and prominent tennis journalist Jose Morgado has described her showing as “by far” the best performance the women’s singles draw has seen across the entire tournament.
She is yet to lose a set at the Open this year and also won four matches without dropping a set in Adelaide, giving her a perfct record of winning all 16 sets she has played in 2023.
As reported by Twitter profile @tennisaddiction, Sabalenka has fired off 121 winners and just 76 unforced errors at Melbourne Park. Morgado described the her stats sheet as “ridiculous”.
11am — Demon’s hilarious TV cameo
Alex de Minaur has ambushed John Millman on live TV.
Just hours before his blockbuster against Novak Djokovic de Minaur answered a phone call from Millman when the Aussie veteran called him during a live segment on Channel 9 on Monday morning.
Millman clearly didn’t expect the Aussie No. 22 seed to pick up, but the Demon showed he is just as quick with his banter as he is scurrying around the court.
Millman held his phone to his broadcast microphone so the audience could hear his responses and de Minaur could be heard telling his Davis Cup teammate: “You look really good on TV. I love the way you did your hair today”.
It left Aussie greats Alicia Molik and Todd Woodbridge giggling.
De Minaur also joked Millman has given him the perfect gameplan to defeat Djokovic despite Millman holding a 0-4 record against the 21-time grand slam champion.
The 23-year-old, nicknamed Demon, is the only Australian left in men’s or women’s singles and will need all the help he can get when he faces Djokovic in the last 16.
“Look, it’s no secret that I love playing here in my backyard,” said De Minaur, who was born in Sydney but whose father is Uruguayan and his mother Spanish.
“I think the Aussie crowd is amazing. They’ve had my back from day dot, so I’ll always cherish that,” added De Minaur.
It is the second year in a row that De Minaur has made it to the fourth round at Melbourne. His best performance at a Grand Slam was the US Open quarter-finals in 2020.
11am — Coco Gauff in tears after fourth round Aus Open loss
Coco Gauff broke down in tears during an emotional press conference following her surprise exit from the Australian Open at the last-16 stage on Sunday.
The 18-year-old usually cuts a composed figure under the glare of the world’s media, despite her tender age.
But it all became too much when asked about the frustration she felt during her 7-5 6-3 fourth-round defeat to Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion.
“I worked really hard and I felt really good coming into the tournament, and I still feel good,” Gauff told reporters.
“I still feel like I’ve improved a lot. But, you know, when you play a player like her and she plays really well, it’s like there’s nothing you can do.”
The prodigiously talented American, who must now wait at least a bit longer for a first major crown, added: “I feel like today I would say nothing because every match you play a part in, but I feel like it was rough.
“So it’s a little bit frustrating on that part.”
Her voice suddenly began to crack, the tears flowed and the teenager was offered a tissue, before saying: “I’m OK. We can keep going.”
Gauff gathered herself to say she would now be supporting her doubles partner Jessica Pegula, who was later playing another former French Open champion, Barbora Krejcikova, for a place in the last eight.
“I hope that she continues well in the tournament now that I’m out,” Gauff smiled. “I hope she wins it.”
— with AFP