Australian Open Day 5: Novak Djokovic advances, Murray falters; Sania-Bopanna win on good day for Indians

Despite needing treatment for his hamstring twice, Novak Djokovic made light work of a tricky third-round, defeating Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (7), 6-3, 6-4.

The Serb blew a set point while serving for the first set, and saw his next two set points, which came 30 minutes after the first, saved during a lights-out first-set tiebreak. Djokovic needed to produce his best in the breaker, winning the set after multiple 20-shot rallies, and falling to the floor in exhaustion after seeing it out. From there on, he never looked back, steamrolling the Bulgarian with three breaks of serve. The hamstring is cause for concern though, as he takes on local favourite Alex de Minaur next.

Elsewhere, Andy Murray’s remarkable run at the Australian Open came to an end after another over three-hour long grind, losing 1-6, 7-6 (7), 3-6, 4-6 to veteran Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut.

The Scot looked physically shattered in the first set, and found incredible steel to come back from a break down in the second, winning a remarkable tiebreaker. Bautista Agut used his experience to elongate the rallies, and wear his physically weaker opponent down, beating the crowd and a fighting Murray to a valuable win.

In the women’s draw, heavy-hitter Aryna Sabalenka continued her incredible form in 2023, defeating Elise Mertens 6-2, 6-3 to make it nine wins in nine matches in 2023, without dropping a set. Faces a tough test against in-form Belinda Bencic next.

Fourth seed and WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia needed to find her resolve against Germany’s Laura Siegemund, prevailing 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 after a slow start.

Sania-Bopanna off to a good start

Sania Mirza, in her final Grand Slam, gets off to a winning start in the mixed doubles event. Her and compatriot Rohan Bopanna defeated Australian pairing Jaimee Fourliss and Luke Saville 7-5, 6-3 in a promising first-round result, despite going down an early break of serve in the first. They won 9 of the last 12 games of the match.

Mirza also reached the second round of the women’s doubles alongside Kazakh partner Anna Dalnina.

The Sriram Balaji-Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan partnership also got off to winning ways, defeating fifth-seeded pairing Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek 7-6 (6), 2-6, 6-4. The duo entered the draw as alternates after significant improvement in their ranking thanks to a runners-up finish at the ATP 250 event in Pune.

In the juniors, the promising 15-year-old Manas Dhamne, fresh off his ATP main draw debut in Pune, defeated Jeremy Zhang of Australia 6-3, 6-3.

Other notable results:

Men’s singles:

(5) Andrey Rublev def. (25) Dan Evans 6-4, 6-2, 6-3
(9) Holger Rune def. Ugo Humber 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (5)
(22) Alex de Minaur def. Benjamin Bonzi 7-6 (0), 6-2, 6-1

Women’s singles:

Linda Fruhvirtova def. Marketa Vondrousova 7-5, 2-6, 6-3
(12) Belinda Bencic def. Camila Giorgi 6-2, 7-5
(30) Karolina Pliskova def. Varvara Gracheva 6-4, 6-2

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