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Barty overcomes Alexandrova scare: Pliskova stunned by Czech compatriot Muchova

Rafael Nadal beat an impressive Cameron Norrie to reach the Australian Open fourth round and end British interest in the singles competition.


Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  14 Feb 2021 11:24 AM GMT

Rafael Nadal, Tsitsipas cruise into 4th round of Australia

MELBOURNE: Rafael Nadal beat an impressive Cameron Norrie to reach the Australian Open fourth round and end British interest in the singles competition.

Spanish second seed Nadal was able to see off his spirited 69th-ranked opponent 7-5, 6-2, 7-5.

Playing in front of an empty Rod Laver Arena, Nadal did not look at his rhythmic best but he held off a confident-looking Norrie.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion will play Italy's Fabio Fognini next.

Fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas put in a dominant performance to thrash Swede Mikael Ymer 6-4, 6-1, 6-1, and canter into the fourth round.

The 22-year-olds were hitting partners during their mandatory 14-day quarantine after arriving Down Under. Conditions were not much different on Saturday, with no spectators allowed due to the five-day lockdown in Melbourne.

"Clean game. I think I kept things simple, didn't complicate whatever tactics or whatever use of my game I wanted to execute today," Tsitsipas told reporters.

After a closely contested opening set when Tsitsipas could manage only a single break of the 95th-ranked Ymer's serve, the Greek raised his level to turn the match into a one-sided affair at John Cain Arena.

Ymer did not help his own cause with 36 unforced errors in the match but he managed to hit 14 winners, most from his heavy forehand.

In reply, Tsitsipas stayed clinical, hit 27 winners, and kept his unforced errors to 20 while winning 78% points on his first serve. He broke Ymer's serve twice in the second set and four times in the third while suffering just a single break on his own serve.

"I'd say I entered a little bit stressed in the match," the Greek said.

"I don't know why, for which reasons, but over time I got used to the conditions, to the big court, and I think I managed to sustain my level and even raise my level once I got a few breaks ahead.

"That gave me a lot of confidence, and I felt like I was on top of my game at that point."

Tsitsipas, a semi-finalist at Melbourne Park in 2019, will next meet the winner of the match between Italian ninth seed Matteo Berrettini and Russian Karen Khachanov, who is seeded 19th.

Daniil Medvedev was forced to dig deep to fight off a charging Filip Krajinovic on Saturday but came through 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 6-0 to extend his winning streak to 17 matches and join the Russian charge into the fourth round.

The frustrated fourth seed forced his coach Gilles Cervara from the otherwise empty stands at Rod Laver Arena with a couple of verbal volleys after dropping his first set of the tournament and going a break down in the fourth.

Krajinovic, who spent his pre-tournament quarantine practicing with world number one Novak Djokovic, found success preying on Medvedev's forehand and rode the momentum to send the contest into a fifth set.

A second trip to the toilets did the trick for Medvedev, however, and he broke the Serbian for 2-0 in the decider with a crunching forehand winner before sealing a last-16 date with American Mackenzie McDonald.

The 25-year-old, who had lost his six previous five-setters, joined compatriot Aslan Karatsev in the fourth round after the qualifier manufactured a stunning straight-sets upset of Diego Schwartzman on Friday.

With seventh seed Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov also in action on Saturday, Russia could end up with an open era record four men in the last 16 of a Grand Slam.

Karolina Pliskova said she never got into her comfort zone on Saturday as the sixth seed exited the Australian Open following a 7-5, 7-5 third-round defeat by Czech compatriot Karolina Muchova at Rod Laver Arena.

Pliskova's frustrations boiled over in the first set as she received a code violation for racket abuse and was then handed a point deduction for smashing another racket in the tunnel between sets.

Pliskova told a news conference she had been a little bit surprised at the second warning but that it had had a positive impact on her game.

"I think actually it helped me in the second set because I was (annoyed) so I started to play well," she said.

After losing the opening set Pliskova raced to a 5-0 lead in the second before the wheels came off, allowing Muchova to complete the victory and reach the fourth round in Melbourne for the first time.

"There was a long game for 5-1 and 6-0. I thought she just played a little bit better at this moment," Pliskova added. "Of course, I played quite amazing to 5-0, but then it's quite tough to hold this level.

"I had chances ... on my serve, I just could do so many things better today. I don't think my game is at the top for sure. I don't want to be too sarcastic and too negative because I just lost.

"The feeling was not great from any of my matches here. I think overall, too many mistakes, too much panic in the rallies. I don't know if it's just not having any matches much lately. I don't feel safe with anything I was doing on the court."

World number one Ash Barty overcame a stumbling start to reach the fourth round with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Ekaterina Alexandrova at an empty Margaret Court Arena.

The top-seeded Australian was broken in her first service game but quickly rallied to take the first set when the Russian slapped the ball into the net for her 16th unforced error.

Showing no signs of being hampered by her heavily strapped left thigh, Barty battled back after being broken again in the second set and secured the victory with a fifth and final break of serve.

The 2019 French Open champion, who is looking to become the first homegrown Australian Open singles champion since 1978, will play American Shelby Rogers for a place in the quarter-finals. Agencies

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