The 2009 champion Rafael Nadal and the 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia, the only players in the top half of the men’s draw to have won a grand slam title, have advanced to the third round in Melbourne alongwith the local favourite Nick Kyrgios after registering straight sets wins on Day 3. They have been joined by the world number three Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria and the 2008 finalist Jo Wilfred Tsonga of France who overcame stiff opposition before escaping with five set wins, each player winning 7-5 in the decider.
On a lengthy day at Flinder’s Park in the first grand slam of the year where the last match started at Midnight, the world’s top ranked player failed to serve out the match at 5-4 in the third set but quickly recovered to win 6-3,6-4,7-6(4) win over the 52nd ranked Argentine Davis Cup player Leonardo Mayer. He next goes on to meet the fast rising but little known Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia Herzegovina, seeded 28th, who followed up his two set come from behind win over the Italian veteran Paolo Lorenzi with a solid 7-5,3-6,6-4,6-1 win over Australian John Milman who is playing on protected ranking.
The sixth seeded Croat Marin Cilic used his strong first serve dropping only five points out of 61, including only two out of twenty on second serve in his 6-1,7-5,6-2 win over Joao Sousa of Portugal. The temperamental Aussie Nick Kyrgios, who won the warm up event in Brisbane was a 7-5,6-4,7-6(2) winner over Victor Troicki of Serbia. American Ryan Harrison who lost the final in Brisbane, continued his good form with a 6-4,7-6(5),6-4 win over the 31st seeded Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay. Diego Schwartman of Argentina, the Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili, Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov, Italy’s Andreas Seppi and the Englishman Kyle Edmund advanced in straight sets on Wednesday.
The third seeded Dimitrov, who won last year’s season ending finale in London, was bageled in the fourth set by the Qualifier Mackenzie McDonald of the U.S.A., but held firm in the decider to come through 4-6,6-2,6-4,0-6,8-6. The 2008 runner up, fifteenth seeded Jo Wilfred Tsonga was down 2-5 in the decider, but rallied to win the next five games to end the run of the left handed Denis Shapovalov of Canada as he won 3-6,6-3,1-6,7-6(4),7-5. The 18 year old Canadian who had beaten Tsonga in New York last year, failed to serve out the match at 5-3 in the decider as he was broken to 15. Tsonga served out the match to love on the Margaret Court Arena. The 23rd seeded Giles Muller of Luxembourg also took five sets to beat the gallant Malek Jaziri of Tunisia who was playing his second five set match at the Open. Muller won 7-5,6-4,6-7(5),3-6,6-2. The 38 year old Croat Ivo Karlovic beat Japan’s Yuichi Sugita 7-6(3),6-7(3),7-5,4-6,12-10 in another lengthy match.
Tenth seeded Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta advanced after the recently crowned Maharashtra Open (Pune, India) champion Giles Simon of France retired midway through the second set trailing 2-6,0-3. Simon led 2-1 and failed to convert on four break point chances on the Spaniards first two service games. Busta then won the next eight games before Simon retired. The Russian prodigy Andrey Rublev, seeded 30th, was a 6-4,6-7(5),6-4,6-2 winner over the 2006 finalist Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus.
The following is the list of matches to be played in the bottom half of the men’s draw with my pick mentioned first:-
Roger Federer (2) v. Jan-Lennard Struff (-)
Richard Gasquet (29) v. Lorenzo Sonego (-)
Lukas Lacko (-) v. Nicolas Kicker (-)
Sam Querrey (13) v. Marton Fucsovics (-)
Juan Martin Del Potro (12) v. Karen Khachanov (-)
Tomas Berdych (19) v. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (-)
Fabio Fognini (25) v. Evgeny Donskoy (-)
David Goffin (7) v. Julien Benneteau (-)
Alexander Zverev (4) v. Peter Gojowcyzk (-)
Daniil Medvedev (-) v. Hyeon Chung (-)
Albert Ramos-Vinolas (21) v. Tim Smyczek (-)
Novak Djokovic (14) v. Gael Monfils (-)
Stanislas Wawrinka (9) v. Tennys Sandgren (-)
Fernando Verdasco (-) v. Maximilian Marterer (-)
Adrian Mannarino (26) v. Jiri Vesley (-)
Dominic Thiem (5) v. Denis Kudla (-)
In the women’s section the former world number one Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, seeded second and the fourth seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina both rallied after dropping the first set before advancing to the last 32. Svitolina beat Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic 4-6,6-2,6-1, while Wozniacki beat the Croat Jana Fett 3-6,6-2,7-5 on the Rod Laver Arena in the morning session. The French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia beat China’s Ying-ying Duan 6-3,3-6,6-4.
Among the other ladies to advance were the Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk, Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum, Kiki Bertens of Netherlands, Magdalena Rybarikova of the Slovak Republic, Estonians Kaia Kanepi and Anett Kontaveit, Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro, Denisa Allertova of the Czech Republic and Petra Martic of Croatia.
German twelveth seed Julia Goerges was upset by the Frenchwoman Alize Cornet 4-6,3-6. Ukrainian Kateryna Bondarenko beat the Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 2-6,3-6. Another Russian Daria Kasatkina, ranked 25th was beaten by Poland’s Magda Linette 6-7(4),2-6. In a bizzare match up which started at midnight, the local hope Daria Gavrilova blew a 5-0 lead in the first set as Elise Mertens of Belgium rallied to win the next seven games and then went on to win 7-5,6-3. The match ended 1:53AM local time in Melbourne.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: sportzcosmos@]