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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Australian Open Day 3: Nadal mows down Mayer to reach third round, Kyrgiois keeps cool 

World No 1 Nadal wins in straight sets, Tsonga rallies and Ivo Karlovic, 38, becomes oldest man to reach the third round of the Australian Open

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after winning his second-round match against Leonardo Mayer of Argentina at the Australian Open. Mast Irham / EPA
Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after winning his second-round match against Leonardo Mayer of Argentina at the Australian Open. Mast Irham / EPA

Rafael Nadal powered into the third round of the Australian Open in ominous form following his straight sets victory over Leonardo Mayer on Wednesday.

Spain's world No 1 only dropped serve once as he reeled off a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 victory over the 52nd-ranked Argentine in 2 hours, 38 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

Nadal, a losing finalist to Roger Federer last year in Melbourne, will face Bosnia-Herzegovina's 28th seed Damir Dzumhur in the third round.

It was a powerful performance from the 16-time grand slam champion, who conceded only 10 unforced errors, stacked up against his 40 winners.

Mayer played well and stuck to his guns, breaking serve for the only time in the match as Nadal was serving out to win, forcing the third set into a tiebreaker.

"It was an important victory for me, he's a tough opponent," Nadal said.

"Leonardo is a player with big potential, he hits the ball so strong and you could see in the last couple of games how tough was he.

"I had to hit some great shots in the tie-break, he's a very dangerous opponent.

"I am happy to be in the third round after being out of competition for a while, a second victory in a row is very important to me."

The win took the 31-year-old Spaniard's Australian Open record to 53-11 as he chases his second Australian title after beating Federer in the 2009 final.

Nadal, who is gunning for a 17th major title, was hampered by a knee injury at the tail-end of the 2017 season.

It forced him to skip the lead-up Brisbane International this month, and he only had a one-match workout at the exhibition Kooyong Classic in Melbourne ahead of the Open.

Nadal needs to reach the quarter-finals to be certain of retaining his world number one ranking after the Australian Open, with Federer breathing down his neck.

Nick Kyrgios of Australia signs autographs after winning against Viktor Troicki of Serbia at the Australian Open. Thomas Peter / Reuters
Nick Kyrgios of Australia signs autographs after winning against Viktor Troicki of Serbia at the Australian Open. Thomas Peter / Reuters

Kyrgios keeps cool to storm into third round

Nick Kyrgios's Australian Open challenge gained momentum as the home favourite outclassed Serbian Viktor Troicki to move into the third round without dropping a set on Wednesday.

The 17th seed's volatile temperament was tested by one noisy fan and then by a hovering helicopter, but he remained focussed enough to win 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 on Hisense Arena.

He will now face French former runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in what promises to be a standout clash on Friday.

Kyrgios dominated the first set but had to wait until the 11th game to break, before serving out the set.

He snatched an early break in the second set but was momentarily distracted when a fan stood up and began bellowing and waving his phone around in the front row.

A couple of games later, a red helicopter hovering above the arena had Kyrgios chuntering again but it did not prevent him moving into a two-set lead.

Troicki saved three break points in the opening game of the third set and had one of his own in the next game which Kyrgios swatted away with a clinical backhand.

Kyrgios did break in the next game but what looked like being a routine victory when he served at 5-4 became a little complicated when, out of nowhere, he dropped serve after Troicki got lucky with a netcord and Kyrgios missed a forehand.

The 22-year-old Australian lost in the second round to Andreas Seppi last year having been two sets up, but there was to be no meltdown this time as he ran away with the tiebreak.

Troicki accidentally hit chair umpire James Keothavong on the head with an attempted passing shot, causing much hilarity around the stadium. But a stony-faced Kyrgios remained rock solid to progress with no further alarms.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France celebrates his win against Denis Shapovalov of Canada on day three of the Australian Open. Lukas Coch / EPA
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France celebrates his win against Denis Shapovalov of Canada on day three of the Australian Open. Lukas Coch / EPA

Tsonga tames Shapovalov in five-set classic

Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga required all his years of experience to tame Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov and reach the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday.

The 32-year-old 2008 Melbourne Park runner-up was staring at a second successive grand slam defeat to the 18-year-old tyro when he trailed 5-2 in the decider but as Shapovalov's youth betrayed him for the first time, Tsonga roared back to rattle off the last four games for a 3-6, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6, 7-5 victory.

"I'm tired but really happy," the popular Frenchman, who has been troubled by a calf injury in the build-up to the tournament, said on Margaret Court Arena.

"I did a big fight today. It's not easy to play the young guns, they play great and go for everything so it's difficult to defend. I suffered physically but I continued to fight."

Melbourne debutant Shapovalov, who won in straight sets in their US Open second-round clash, crunched 60 winners throughout the three hour, 37 minute firefight in soaring temperatures, but ultimately fell just short.

The straggly-haired world No 50's explosive shot-making helped him take the opener in style after breaking the 15th seed's serve in the fourth game of the match.

Tsonga, popular Down Under after his final appearance against Novak Djokovic 10 years ago, found some extra zip on his shots to level the match but the fearless Shapovalov continued to let rip at every opportunity to race through the third set in 26 minutes.

It was tight in the fourth as former world No 5 Tsonga used all his experience and physical presence to stay ahead on serve and take the teenager into a tiebreak which he dominated to win 7-4.

Shapovalov had only gone to a fifth set once before but broke in the second game and even had a chance to make it 4-0.

Tsonga dug in though and it was Shapovalov who crumbled when serving for the match at 5-3, misfiring two backhands and double-faulting to allow Tsonga to break.

The momentum was now with the older man and he played three faultless games to claim a 16th five-set victory.

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Croatia's Ivo Karlovic celebrates after beating Japan's Yuichi Sugita during their second round match at the Australian Open. Ng Han Guan / AP Photo
Croatia's Ivo Karlovic celebrates after beating Japan's Yuichi Sugita during their second round match at the Australian Open. Ng Han Guan / AP Photo

Karlovic becomes oldest man in third round for 40 years

Croatia's Ivo Karlovic became the oldest man to reach the third round of the Australian Open for 40 years when he edged Japan's Yuichi Sugita in five sets in withering heat on Wednesday.

Karlovic, 39 next month, served down 53 aces as he came through 7-6, 6-7, 7-5, 4-6, 12-10 in four hours 33 minutes - the longest match in the tournament so far.

He will face Italian Andreas Seppi in round three when he will be the oldest player to contest that round since Ken Rosewall, aged 44, in 1978 when the draw was only 64.

The 2.11 metre Karlovic finally got the decisive break in the fifth set in the 21st game and held firm to complete victory with a nerveless backhand volley.

Evergreen Karlovic, ranked down at 89 in the world, also reached the third round last year when he lost to David Goffin.