Djokovic, Thiem Advance To Australian Open Third Round

Novak Djokovic (photo: Vince Caligiuiri/Tennis Australia)

MELBOURNE/STARNBERG, February 10, 2021

Last year’s Australian Open finalists, Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem, both recorded comfortable first round victories on Monday, and both continued that form into their second round matches on Wednesday.

Djokovic fought past US-American Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-7(3), 7-6(2), 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena. The World No. 1 fired 26 aces and won 84 per cent of his first-service points to secure victory in three hours and 30 minutes.

“It was a very tough match, it was very warm with the sun on the court and a lot of long rallies,” Djokovic, who withstood 23 aces from his opponent, said on court afterwards.

“I want to give Frances a hand for a great match. If I had to choose I wouldn’t like to have these matches early in the week, but the matches are only going to get tougher.

“I know how to handle these circumstances, but I was lucky to get through the third set, it was anyone’s game. It was high-quality tennis.”

Thiem remains untroubled

Reigning US-Open champion Thiem eased past Dominik Koepfer of Germany 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 on Margaret Court Arena. The No. 3 seed from Austria hit 34 winners and capitalized on six of his 12 break-point chances to advance in one hour and 39 minutes.

Thiem said the win was his best so far since arriving in Australia but admitted there was still room for improvement before comparing the speed of the courts to 2020.

“I prefer last year’s courts, if I could choose. It’s probably one of the fastest Grand Slam tournaments I’ve played so far,” Thiem explained. “We have to get used to it. But if I have to choose, I would choose the last year’s conditions.”

Up next for Thiem will be Nick Kyrgios. The Aussie fought past Ugo Humbert of France 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 in three hours and 25 minutes.

Fucsovis knocks out Wawrinka

In other action, 2014 Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka missed three match points in a dramatic five-set loss to Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics.

The No. 17 seed from Switzerland was two sets down but fought back to level and then broke back when Fucsovics served for the match in the decider. Wawrinka looked set to complete the comeback when he led 9-6 in the first-to-10-points deciding tie-break only for Fucsovics to prevail 7-5, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 7-6(9) in just under four hours of play.

Eighth seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina dropped only five games in beating French lucky loser Alexandre Muller. Schwartzman will next face Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev, who beat Belarusian Egor Gerasimov 6-0, 6-1, 6-0.

All-Canadian clash set

No. 11 seed Denis Shapovalov edged past Australia’s Bernard Tomic 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 in one hour and 47 minutes  to set up a third-round clash with fellow Canadian young gun Felix Auger-Aliassime, who defeated James Duckworth of Australia 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 in one hour and 45 minutes.

“I served well. I didn’t face a break point, that was key,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I was able to adapt well, change my position, mix things up, just create opportunities. It was a very complete match. It was good to get through in three sets in the hot weather… I can be happy with my performance.”

World No. 12 Shapovalov leads Auger-Aliassime 2-1 in their head-to-head series, with their last meeting coming at the 2019 US Open, which Shapovalov won 6-1, 6-1, 6-4.

No. 6 seed Alexander Zverev of Germany battled past Maxime Cressy, breaking the US-American’s serve four times in a 7-5, 6-4, 6-3 victory over two hours and four minutes in the night session on Rod Laver Arena.

“He was an extremely difficult player to play against, having just come out of college,” said Zverev. “I know his kind of game very well and I’m pleased to have won.” Zverev will next play French No. 32 seed Adrian Mannarino in the third round.