Kyrgios wins marathon, Nadal rolls on, Pliskova out
Australia’s Nick Kyrgios prevailed 6/2; 7/6(5); 6/7(8); 6/7(9); 7/6 (10-8) over Russia’s strongman Karen Khachanov in a marathon on Melbourne Arena. The titanic battle eclipsed Nadal’s 6/1; 6/2; 6/4 dismissal of compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta or Dominic Thiem’s four-set victory over American Taylor Fritz.
At the end of a first week’s legion of upsets, the second seed, Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic lost to Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7/6(4); 7/6(3) on Rod Laver Arena.
Nick Kyrgios, seeded 23, took the first two sets 6/2; 7/6 with his booming serve. Then he was two points away from victory in the second set tie break won by his opponent eight points to six. He lost the fourth set also by a margin of two points in the tie break. The fifth set went down the wire to a deciding tie break. When Nick lost his service point to fall behind seven-eight, the match was on Karen’s racket but he lost his two service points to hand his opponent a match point. A 34th ace by Nick would have sealed the match but the Australian prevailed in the ensuing rally to win 10 points to eight.
Nadal rolled over compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta for the fifth straight career victory in just 98 minutes on Rod Laver Arena. Nadal broke Pablo’s serve in the opening games of the first two sets and the fifth game of the third. Asked about the match, he said: “It is my best performance of the tournament without a doubt. Today (yesterday), I did everything well with my serve and started to hit some good forehands down the line, which is a key shot for me.”
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova achieved the upset of the day with her victory over the second seeded woman, Karolina Pliskova, who was a title hopeful. The 30th seeded Anastasia conceded only two of 10 break points while Karolina fended off 13 break threats and lost just two; and that occurred in the two tie breaks.
By his victory, Nick Kyrgios set the stage for a fourth round clash with Rafael Nadal. At the start of the tournament, the Spaniard said that he was not bothered by the conditions. On the other hand, Canada’s Denis Shapovalov expressed his anxiety and threatened that he would not play if the air quality situation got worse. As the major battle is in the mind, could this be the reason for his ouster in the first round after which he took the next plane back to Canada?
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