Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime battles into 3rd round at Australian Open


Montreal’s Felix Auger-Aliassime beat Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-6 (4), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4) on Thursday in the second round of the Australian Open.

It’s the first time the two had ever played each other on the ATP Tour.

Ranked No. 9 in the world, Auger-Aliassime was heavily favoured over Davidovich Fokina, who’s 50th in the world rankings.

Auger-Aliassime will face Britain’s Dan Evans in the third round. No. 24 Evans will be well rested, having advanced by a walkover against France’s Arthur Rinderknech.

In doubles action, Ottawa’s Gabriela Dabrowski got off to a perfect start alongside partner Giuliana Olmos of Mexico after the sixth-seeded duo won their first-round match against Columbia’s Camila Osorio and France’s Clara Burel 6-2, 6-3.

WATCH l Auger-Aliassime tops Davidovich Fokina at Australian Open:

Auger-Aliassime advances to 3rd round at Australian Open

Montreal’s Felix Auger-Aliassime defeats Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 7-6(4) in the second round of the Australian Open. 2:29

No. 4 seed Tsitsipas overcomes challenge from Baez

No. 4-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas has advanced to the third round of the Australian Open with a 7-6 (1), 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4 win over Sebastian Baez in a match featuring two former junior world No. 1 players.

French Open runner-up Tsitsipas was a semifinalist at the Australian Open last year and has now reached the third round at Melbourne Park for the fourth straight year.

Tsitsipas said the 21-year-old, No. 88-ranked Baez has “one of the biggest forehands” he’s faced and he was glad he “overcame that obstacle.”

He will next play either No. 26 Grigor Dimitrov or Benoit Paire.

Earlier, Taylor Fritz beat Frances Tiafoe 6-4 6-3 7-6(5) in an all-American battle while Alex de Minaur and Roberto Bautista Agut also advanced with straight-sets victories.

Other men’s winners on Day 4 included No. 5 Andrey Rublev, 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic and 70th-ranked Maxime Cressy of the U.S.

3rd-seeded Muguruza, 6th-seeded Kontaveit suffer upsets

Third-seeded Garbine Muguruza became the highest-seeded player to exit the women’s draw just minutes after No. 6 Anett Kontaveit lost.

Muguruza never managed to earn a single break point and made a whopping 33 unforced errors, more than twice her opponent’s total, in a 6-3, 6-3 loss to Alize Cornet under a bright blue and cloudless sky at Rod Laver Arena on Thursday.

WATCH l Cornet stuns world No. 3 Muguruza at Australian Open:

Cornet upsets world No. 3 Muguruza in Australian Open 2nd round

France’s Alize Cornet, ranked 61st in the world, defeats two-time Grand slam champion Garbine Muguruza 6-3, 6-3 and advances to the third round at the Australian Open. 1:12

Here’s how unexpected that result was: Muguruza is a two-time Grand Slam champion and a two-time major runner-up, too, including making it to the final at the Australian Open in 2020.

And the 61st-ranked Cornet? She’s appearing in her 63rd career major tournament — and 60th in a row — but never has been beyond the fourth round.

Cornet will get a chance to equal that showing when she plays Saturday, her 32nd birthday.

Muguruza said she didn’t feel at her best physically and noted that the start of this season was “kind of stressful,” because COVID-19 spread through her support team and she was apart from them for two weeks.

Kontaveit, who lost to Muguruza in the title match at the WTA Finals, was beaten 6-2, 6-3 by 19-year-old Clara Tauson of Denmark.

No. 2 seed Sabalenka advances after shaky opening set

No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka served a dozen double-faults in the first set and appeared to be on the brink of a second-round defeat before recovering to hold off 100th-ranked Wang Xinyu 1-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Sabalenka finished with 19 double-faults, including nine in her first two service games, in her win over Wang. She said she regained her composure during a quick trip to the locker room following the first set.

The U.S. Open and Wimbledon semifinalist from last year said she had “a lot of experience of playing without the serve,” and she’d reassured herself that she had enough other weapons to win “even if you can’t serve.”

Sabalenka, who entered the year’s first major with a chance of reaching the top ranking, has made a stuttering start to 2022, with her service woes including a combined 39 double-faults contributing to first-round losses at tuneup events in Adelaide.

She faces No. 31-seeded Marketa Vondrousova, the 2019 runner-up at Roland Garros, who beat Liudmila Samsonova 6-2, 7-5.

No. 7 Iga Swiatek, the 2020 French Open champion, No. 19 Elise Mertens, Sorana Cirstea and Maddison Inglis, who beat Hailey Baptiste 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-2, were among the other women advancing.

Zhang Shuai of China moved into the third round when No. 12 Elena Rybakina retired from their match while trailing 6-4, 1-0.

Sam Stosur’s 6-2, 6-2 loss to No. 10 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova ended the 2011 U.S. Open champion’s 20th, and last, singles campaign at the Australian Open.

The 37-year-old Australian received a wildcard entry for the singles draw. She’ll continue in the doubles tournament.

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