The hottest day of the Australian Open so far has seen Rafa Nadal, Alex Zverev and Nick Kyrgios all in action – and Paula Badosa go out after failing to handle the heat.
And two absent stars were still making news today even though they are not even Down Under this year while another player has tested positive for Covid-19.
Home singles hope Ash Barty playing the first match in the evening session in the Rod Laver Arena.
Nadal survives an epic first-set tiebreak
The Spanish superstar remains on course for a men’s record 21st Grand Slam title after winning a battle of left-handers against Adrian Mannarino 7-6 6-2 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open for a 14th time.
But the 2009 winner needed seven set points before winning a crucial tiebreak 16-14 before he broke the Frenchman in his opening game of the second set to cruise to victory.
The world No.6 said: “The first set was very, very emotional. Anything could have happened there. Anything could have happened at the end. I had my chances, he had his chances too.
“Everyone knows how mental this game is. This crazy first set was so important and the break at the start of the second set. The first set was super difficult. His ball is difficult to control. Very flat, very fast…”
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The Olympic champion is out
Nadal’s path to the final has been eased by No.14 seed Denis Shapovalov knocking out No.3 seed Alex Zverev 6-3 7-6 6-3 in the Margaret Court Arena. The German smashed his racquet in the court in frustration in the second set.
The Canadian left-hander reached the Wimbledon semis last year after beating Andy Murray – and will now face Nadal in his first quarter-final appearance here.
Shapovalov, who now works with Murray’s former coach Jamie Delgado, said: “I have always loved starting my season here in Australia. I have had some tough draws and I am happy to pull through today. I am definitely happy where my game is at. Iplayed pretty smart today.”
On facing Nadal, he said, it is always an honour to go up against a guy like Rafa. It is always fun – it is going to be a battle and I am definitely going to enoy it
Shapovalov had lost his last 17 matches against top-five players since he beat Nadal in Montreal in 2017.
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Where’s Peng Shuai?
Tennis Australia is insisting security at Melbourne Park were correct to order a spectator to remove a shirt in support of the Chinese tennis player.
The former Wimbledon doubles champion went on social media in November to accuse a senior Chinese politician of sexual assault – and then disappeared after the post weas deleted. Last month she denied ever making the accusations.
A Tennis Australian spokesman said: “Under our ticket conditions of entry we don’t allow clothing, banner or signs that are commercial or political. Peng Shuai’s safety is our primary concern. We continue to work with the WTA and the global tennis community to seek more clarity on her situation.”
Will Novak be back?
Australian Open chief Craig Tiley has claimed Novak Djokovic will be back next year – and he won’t sue Tennis Australia over his deportation.
Asked if the world No.1 will mount a court case, Tiley told the ABC: “No”
He added: “Obviously, he’s got to play out this year, but that will be his intention,” he added. “At the end of the day, he’s the number one player in the world and he really loves the Australian Open.”
Another positive test
Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck has taken to social medial to reveal that she has tested positive for COVID-19 after playing at the Australian Open.
“My exit test in Melbourne to go back to Belgium came back positive,” she said on social media.
“I’m isolating and following all of the requirements.”