Fritz stuns Tsitsipas to reach quarters in Melbourne; Unstoppable Sabalenka, Gauff march into last eight
Melbourne: Novak Djokovic marked a rare daytime appearance at the Australian Open with a dominant victory over Adrian Mannarino on Sunday as the 10-times champion flirted with a 'triple bagel' before sealing a 6-0, 6-0, 6-3 win to reach the quarter-finals.
Djokovic, handed an early session slot at Melbourne Park for the first time since 2021, said earlier in the week he had been battling a viral affection and the world number one was coughing and appeared to be breathing heavily at times during the match.
The Serb's health issues had no impact on his play, however, and with the roof at Rod Laver Arena closed due to rain he powered to a 32nd straight match victory at the tournament and a 58th Grand Slam quarter-final, equalling the all-time record of Swiss maestro Roger Federer.
"The way I played today, I don't mind playing in the day to be honest," said Djokovic, who is chasing a 25th Grand Slam to go past Margaret Court.
"It's no secret I like to play at 7 p.m. but it was not too bad today at all."
Tricky left-hander Mannarino can pose problems for the best of players by working the angles and the world number 19 pushed Djokovic hard in the opening game of the contest but still found himself down a set in only 33 minutes.
Djokovic let out a roar after breaking early in the second set, and delivered another body blow in the third game when he held serve after six deuces.
Two sets down and still not on the scoreboard, Mannarino finally won a game early in the third to draw level at 1-1, avoiding a rare "triple bagel" - 6-0, 6-0, 6-0 - and smiled as the crowd cheered.
Taylor Fritz caused a major shock, the American beating last year's runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(7-3), 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals.
The 12th seed produced brilliant tennis throughout as he wrapped up victory in just over three hours to set up a clash with Djokovic in the last eight.
Fritz struck 50 winners and committed just 19 unforced errors, while Tsitsipas held a 41/33 mark.
The 26-year-old has now advanced to the last eight at three of the four majors, having reached that stage at Wimbledon in 2022 and the US Open in 2023. The six-time tour-level titlist has never advanced to the semifinals at a Slam.
In other action, Jannik Sinner secured a gritty 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 win straight-sets win over Karen Khachanov to advance to last eight.
The Italian reached the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park in 2022 and last year fell to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the fourth round. He has reached the quarter-finals or better in five of the past nine majors.
Sinner will next play 5th seed Andrey Rublev who beat 10th seed Alex de Minaur 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 6-3, 6-0.
In the women's singles, fourth seed Coco Gauff reached quarterfinals for the first time with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Pole Magdalena Frech.
The US Open champion, who has yet to drop a set at the Melbourne Park major this year, broke the unseeded Frech in the opening game at a chilly Rod Laver Arena and never let her settle into a rhythm.
Reigning champion Aryna Sabalenka reached the quarterfinals in dominant fashion when she swept past American Amanda Anisimova with a clinical 6-3 6-2 victory on Margaret Court Arena.
"I'm super happy with the level, super happy with the win," said Sabalenka.
"I just tried to stay focused on my game, and just focus every single point. I want to stay here right until the very end and hopefully we can get this one again."
Sabalenka will next meet ninth seed Barbora Krejcikova who beat 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
In other match, Marta Kostyuk beat Maria Timofeeva 6-2, 6-1 to reach last eight stage. Agencies