MELBOURNE, Jan 20: US Open champion Emma Raducanu was bundled out of the Australian Open in the second round as she was beaten 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 by Montenegro's Danka Kovinic.
The 19-year-old British sensation was hampered by a blistered racket hand from early in the first set of a tense contest on Margaret Court Arena but showed great fighting spirit to stay in contention.
With her usually powerful forehand reduced to a slice, Raducanu let slip a 3-0 lead to lose the first set.
But she played on her 98th-ranked opponent's nerves to break at 4-4 in the second and take the match into a decider.
Kovinic showed great composure to forge ahead in the deciding set, resist a Raducanu fightback, and then move 5-3 ahead as the British youngster finally looked a little weary.
A stunning backhand winner sealed victory for the 27-year-old Kovinic as she moved into the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time.
World number two Daniil Medvedev put an end to the Nick Kyrgios show at this year's Australian Open dumping out the mercurial local hope with a clinical 7-6(1), 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 victory to reach the third round.
A capacity 50% crowd cheered on every Kyrgios point at a floodlit Rod Laver Arena but despite their fanatic support, the Australian maverick could not find a way past the US Open champion who showed nerves of steel.
Andy Murray's long-awaited return to the Australian Open was brought to a disappointing end in the second round when the three-times Grand Slam champion was ushered out of the tournament 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 by world number 120 Taro Daniel.
Perhaps still feeling the effects of his gruelling five-set battle in the opening round on Tuesday, the 34-year-old Scot looked out of sorts as his inspired Japanese opponent bounced along the baseline firing winner after winner.
Former world number one Murray showed no more than flashes of the brilliant tennis that got him to five Australian Open finals as he made 34 unforced errors over the first two sets on John Cain Arena.
To the delight of the crowd, Murray edged ahead at 2-0 in the third set but Daniel broke back immediately and 45 minutes later had booked his first Grand Slam third-round tie against Steve Johnson or Jannik Sinner.
World number four Stefanos Tsitsipas was made to work hard by Sebastian Baez before raising his game to beat the upcoming Argentinian 7-6(1), 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4.
In the first clash between two former world number one juniors, Tsitsipas - a two-time Australian Open semi-finalist - dominated proceedings early on but the 21-year-old Baez, ranked 88th and making his Grand Slam debut, then showed why he is rated so highly.
Former Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza crashed out of the Australian Open as she succumbed to a surprise second round 6-3, 6-3 loss to France's Alize Cornet.
Cornet made a rapid start, securing an early break and kept Muruguza, the 2020 Australian Open runner-up, under constant pressure to close out the set.
It was a similar story in the second set, even as Muguruza attempted to fight back, but a series of unforced errors and Cornet's determination saw the Frenchwoman close out the match.
Sam Stosur's 69th and final appearance in a Grand Slam singles draw ended in a 6-2, 6-2 second-round loss to 10th seeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
The 37-year-old said last month that she would focus only on doubles after her 20th singles appearance at her home Grand Slam going back to 2002.
The former US Open champion had recovered from a set down for a rousing victory in her opening contest at Melbourne Park on Tuesday but there was to be no repeat on Kia Arena.
World number two Aryna Sabalenka survived a complete service meltdown to rally for a 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Wang Xinyu and avoid joining an exodus of top women's seeds early on Thursday.
Taking to court just after third seed Garbine Muguruza and sixth seed Anett Kontaveit had crashed out of the second round, Sabalenka looked to be going the same way when she double-faulted six times in her opening service game.
Her 12th double fault handed Chinese world number 100 Wang the opening set but even though the services errors continued, the Belarussian battled back to even up the contest on Rod Laver Arena.
Sabalenka had to rely on the rest of her game to keep her out of trouble as the double faults kept coming — there were 19 in all over the match — but ultimately progressed when Wang went long with a forehand.
Sabalenka, who served up 12 double faults as she came from a set down in her first round match against local wild card Storm Sanders on Tuesday, will face 2019 French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova in the third round.
Iga Swiatek will be waiting for Sabalenka in the quarter-finals if they both get that far and she was the only one of the top seeds in early action on Thursday to come through her match without any issues.
The seventh-seeded former French Open champion confirmed her strong form by swatting aside Rebecca Peterson 6-2, 6-2 on John Cain Arena.
World No. 6 Andrey Rublev of Russia breezed into the third round with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-0 win over No.93 Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania at the Melbourne Park.
After spending one hour, 24 minutes on court against Italy's Gianluca Mager in the opening round, the last year's Australian Open quarterfinalist needed just one hour, 47 minutes to ease past his Lithuanian opponent in Kia Arena.
Rublev will now turn his attention to his third-round opponent, 27th seed Marin Cilic of Croatia, who defeated Slovakian qualifier Norbert Gombos 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(6).
A four-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, including a year ago in Melbourne, Rublev is chasing his first career Slam semifinal this fortnight.
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