Five-time losing Australian Open finalist Andy Murray lost another chance to win the champion’s honor at Melbourne. On a fateful Sunday, the off-color Murray was dealt a nasty blow by Germany’s world no.50 Mischa Zverev. In the first two sets, Murray kept himself in the match but the German literally outplayed the world’s no.1 player in third and fourth to cause the second biggest upset of first week since Novak Djokovic fell in second round to Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin on Thursday. Sunday also brought the fall of women’s defending champion Angelique Kerber, who couldn’t put any fight against the fast-rising American Coco Vandeweghe. However, there was great news for the lovers of Roger Federer. The Swiss Maestro proved conclusively that he is now free of the effects of any injury as he defeated Japan’s Kei Nishikori in five sets. On 6th day, former champion Rafael Nadal overcame rising star Alexander Zverev in a gripping contest to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open. With Djokovic and Murray out of contention, there is a big possibility of Federer and Nadal meeting in the final, if they don’t lose their next few matches.
World no.1 Andy Murray was definitely below his best on Sunday. There was no reason for him to lose his match against Germany’s Mischa Zverev but the Brit didn’t play his best tennis, when it mattered most. Incidentally, the 29-year old Mischa is the elder brother of the more fancied Alexander, who is making waves on the world tennis circuit in recent times but Mischa is not counted in the same league. On Sunday, the elder sibling made a signature statement by blowing away Andy Murray’s hopes of winning his first-ever Australian Open title after 5 runners-up finishes. Mischa began ominously by taking the first set 7-5. The Scot got alarmed and raised his game and squared up the set-scores by winning the second at 7-5. Then Murray forgot his tennis and lost color. Mischa was surprised but he kept himself in top shape and yielded just 6 more points to the Brit, won the match 7-5, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 and created shockwaves at Melbourne. Since 2007, this was the first time that Murray lost to an opponent ranked outside of top 40 in Grand Slam matches. On Tuesday, Mischa’s quarterfinal opponent will be Roger Federer, who defeated Japan’s Kei Nishikori in another exciting match on Sunday.
Later on Sunday, former world no.1 and 4-time Australian Open champion demonstrated his master-class yet again by quashing the challenge of Japanese world no.5 Kei Nishikori in five sets. Six months out of active tennis, the 35-year old Federer matched the fleet-footed Japanese point by point in an epic under the lights of the Rod Laver Arena. After Nishikori shot to a 4-0 lead in the first set, Federer came back strongly to force the decider before losing narrowly. However, the Swiss was unperturbed as he reeled out the wins in the next two sets. In the fourth, Federer wobbled again at 2-2 and yielded two break points to the Japanese. With the door opening, Nishikori kept the pressure and forced the decider by winning the fourth set. The decider, however, belonged to Federer, who dominated the Japanese and finally going through at 6-7, 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3. Meeting Mischa Zverev instead of Andy Murray for a semifinal berth; should make it easy for the Swiss on Tuesday.
On Saturday there was another Zverev, who seriously challenged 2009 champion Spain’s Rafael Nadal in a third-round match. The 19-year old German is being rated as the most promising player on ATP circuit and many expect him to reach the top soon enough. Zverev took the first set from Nadal only to see the Spaniard level up in second set. But Zverev matched Nadal toe-to-toe and after winning the third set, shot to a 2-1 in the fourth. But he forgot about Nadal’s characteristic fighting skills as the 30-year old turned the tables on the German teenager to win at 6-3 and carried the momentum in fifth to reach fourth round with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-7, 6-3, 6-2 win in 4 hours 6 minutes. Next up for Nadal is the sixth-seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils, who defeated Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 7-6, 6-4. Also going through to fourth-round on Saturday were; no.3 seeded Canadian Milos Raonic, a 6-2, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3 victor over Gilles Simon of France; women’s second-seed Serena Williams, who defeated compatriot Nicole Gibbs 6-3, 6-1; women’s fifth-seed Czech Karolina Pliskova, a 4-6, 6-0, 10-8 winner over Latvian Jelena Ostapenko; 30th seeded Russian Ekaterina Makarova, a 6-2, 6-7, 6-2 upset winner over no.6 seeded Slovak Dominika Cibulkova and men’s 15th seeded Latvian Grigor Dimitrov, who outclassed Frenchman Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
On Sunday, besides Federer’s marvelous win and Murray’s shocking exit, there was another huge upset as 2016 champion and top-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany was booted out by USA’s Coco Vandeweghe in two sets 6-2, 6-3. Other notable players sailing into quarterfinals were; 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka, who defeated Italy’s Andreas Seppi 7-6, 7-6, 7-6; women’s seventh seeded Garbine Muguruza, a 6-2, 6-3 victor over Romania’s Soran Cirstea and American Venus Williams, who defeated German qualifier Mona Barthel 6-3, 7-5.
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