World No. 1 Iga Swiatek continued her solid form this year, needing only 55 minutes to routinely dismantle qualifier Cristina Bucsa 6-0, 6-1. The Pole is yet to drop a set in the opening three rounds of her campaign, despite being on the tougher side of the lopsided women’s draw, which reveals itself on Sunday, as she takes on reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.
Rybakina has gone significantly under the radar since her triumph in London last year, mainly due to her lower ranking. Her 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 win over last year’s finalist Danielle Collins in the third round was particularly impressive. The Kazakh flew through the first set before seeing a drop in her level in the second, the kind of lapse she can’t afford against the World No. 1.
On the men’s side, third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, one of the favourites for the title this year after so many top seeds have crashed out, continued his strong form with a third consecutive straight-sets win over Tallon Griekspoor. Up next is the much-anticipated meeting against promising Italian Jannik Sinner, who needed a huge comeback in the third round.
Sinner defeated Marton Fucsovics 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-0 after being outplayed for much of the first two sets. The Italian is the only men’s or women’s player to reach at least the fourth round of each of the last six Grand Slams, and that best-of-five reliability set in throughout his comeback. Both the serve and backhand were played into form at the back end of that match.
Medvedev crashes, Gauff cruises
Seventh seed and last year’s finalist Daniil Medvedev crashed out of the third round of the Australian Open against American Sebastian Korda 6-7 (7), 3-6, 6-7 (4).
Medvedev did not look settled throughout the encounter. He broke back late in the first to forge a tiebreaker, and did the same in the third, but failed to produce his best when it mattered on both occasions. His absence, along with Rafael Nadal’s early exit, leaves his quarter of the draw wide open.
In the women’s section, Coco Gauff kept her charge for a maiden Grand Slam well and truly on track by defeating Bernarda Pera 6-3, 6-2 in another impressive showing. That’s eight wins in a row in 2023, without dropping a single set.
She will take on 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko next, with either Swiatek or Rybakina to follow if she wins.
Bopanna out, Jeevan-Balaji in
Rohan Bopanna, partnering Australia’s Mathew Ebden, lost his first-round men’s doubles encounter against the Austrian pairing of Alexander Erler and Lucas Miedler 6-3, 7-5.
The duo had a couple of opportunities to get back into the game in the second set, but failed to capitalise. Bopanna’s journey in Melbourne is not over yet though, as he is set to partner Sania Mirza in her last Grand Slam in the mixed doubles.
While the Indian pairing of Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni, as well as Ramkumar Ramanathan, all joined Bopanna to be eliminated in the first round, the Sriram Balaji-Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan partnership, which reached the final at the ATO 250 in Pune this month, has got a place in the draw as alternates. They face fifth seeds Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek in the first round.
Other notable results:
(6) Felix Auger Aliassime def. Francis Cerundolo 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 (18) Karen Khachanov def. (16) Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (9) (10) Hubert Hurkacz def. (20) Denis Shapovalov 7-6 (3), 6-4, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3
(3) Jessica Pegula def. Marta Kostyuk 6-0, 6-2 (24) Victoria Azarenka def. (10) Madison Keys 1-6, 6-2, 6-1 Zhu Li def. (6) Maria Sakkari 7-6 (3), 1-6, 6-4