MELBOURNE, January 18, 2018
Rafael Nadal and Australian No. 1 Alex de Minaur headlined Friday’s Australian Open night session on Rod Laver Arena. The World No. 2 from Spain recorded the 250th Grand Slam championship match win of his career with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 victory. Nadal has beaten an Australian player for the third straight round. He already defeated James Duckworth and Matthew Ebden in the opening two rounds in Melbourne.
“I believe that I played a solid match [and] I played a good level of tennis, hitting a lot of good spots, especially during the first two sets,” said Nadal. “I know he’s dangerous. He’s super quick. He likes to go inside the court fast. [So] I tried to not give him many chances on that.
“Then my serve worked well. I felt more dynamic with my movement tonight, every day a little bit better, in my opinion… Everything is a step forward. So that’s positive news for me. I’m very happy for the victory because at the end of the day I won 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 against a player that he was winning seven matches in a row, winning a tournament.” Nadal will next face Tomas Berdych from the Czech Republic.
On 1573 Arena, Roberto Bautista Agut continued his good of form this season beating No. 10 seeded Russian Karen Khachanov 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 in two hours and eight minutes.
The World No. 23 from Spain opened his season by lifting his ninth ATP Tour title at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha. Bautista Agut will next take on Marin Cilic, who overcame Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(8), 6-3. The encounter lasted four hours and 18 minutes.
Sharapova dethrones Wozniacki
Former World No.1 Maria Sharapova knocked out defending champion Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open.
“As usual, it was a physical match,” Sharapova said. “It was a good win. I’m just really happy and proud of the way I competed today.” Up next for Sharapova will be Ashleigh Barty, who beat Maria Sakkari earlier in the day for a career-best result at her home major.
Birthday present for Kerber
Later in the evening, No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber, who turned 31 today, remained untroubled in her match against Aussie wild card entry Kimberly Birrell. The leftie from Germany didn’t face a break point, converting five of her own 10 chances to secure a 6-1, 6-0 victory in just 58 minutes. Kerber will next play US-American Danielle Collins.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) 18. Januar 2019
Tennis Australia’s Chief Tennis Officer Matt Dwyer was proud of the achievements of the local players during this year’s home Grand Slam tournament. He stated in a press release:
“Ash Barty’s terrific win today continues an exciting new era in Australian tennis that has gathered momentum in the last couple of weeks.
“Tonight Alex de Minaur and Kim Birrell are playing the biggest matches of their young careers and we have no doubt they will acquit themselves well.
“The common denominator of these successes, along with the wonderful wins last night for Alex Bolt and Alexei Popyrin, has been each players’ unwavering passion to compete and their genuine love of the game, all underpinned by the Tennis Australia values of excellence, loyalty, teamwork and humility.
“Support and opportunities will be offered to players who live these values and demonstrate the commitment to maximize their potential, with our ultimate ambition being to develop and foster athletes we can all be proud of.”
This is a first Friday Day/Night session record – previous record AO 2015 (74,748)