SPO_240119 AUS OPEN DAY WRAP3-1705660639557
Aryna Sabalenka celebrates after her victory against Lesia Tsurenko in the Australian Open on Friday. Image Credit: AFP

Melbourne: Title contenders Jannik Sinner, Aryna Sabalenka, Coco Gauff and Stefanos Tsitsipas all made light work of their third-round ties at the Australian Open on Friday to storm into the second week of the year’s first Grand Slam.

After a day of close scrapes, marathon tiebreaks and upsets at Melbourne Park on Thursday, the top seeds were ruthlessly efficient in booking their spots in the fourth round on day six of the championships.

Novak Djokovic, who has been dragged into dogfights in the first two matches of his 10th title defence, will look to emulate them when he takes on Tomas Martin Etcheverry on Rod Laver Arena in the evening session.

Aryna Sabalenka took less than an hour to beat 28th-seeded Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko 6-0, 6-0 on the main showcourt, sweeping into the last 16 without dropping a set as she did last year on her way to her first Grand Slam title.

Not getting carried away

Even with top 10 seeds Elena Rybakina, Jessica Pegula, Ons Jabeur, Marketa Vondrousova and Maria Sakkari already out, Sabalenka, however, was not getting carried away with her impressive progress.

“Listen, it’s tennis,” the Belarusian second seed said. “As we see with some of the top players losing in the earlier matches, anything can happen.

“I’m just trying to do my best and prepare myself as best I can for each match.”

SPO_240119 AUS OPEN DAY WRAP2-1705660637491
Aryna Sabalenka aims to give her best in every match during the Australian Open. Image Credit: AFP

Sinner, the hottest player on the men’s tour at the end of last year, continued his fine start to the season with a 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 pummelling of Argentine Sebastian Baez but was equally cautious.

“Let’s see how I handle the situation when the score is even or I’m down, how I react,” the Italian said. “It’s going to be interesting to see.”

“Great start”

Seventh seed Tsitsipas was particularly happy with his 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 win over French young gun Luca Van Assche given he had lost the opening set in his first two matches at Melbourne Park.

“I had a great start to the match,” he said after firing 36 winners on Rod Laver Arena. “I’m happy with today’s performance. Things worked out for me pretty nicely at moments that I needed it the most.”

SPO_240119 AUS OPEN DAY WRAP1-1705660634617
Jannik Sinner stretches to make a forehand return to Sebastian Baez during his victory in the third round. Image Credit: AP

Races ahead

Tsitsipas will next face Taylor Fritz, who he beat at the same stage last year on his way to the final. The American 12th seed beat Hungarian Fabian Marozsan 3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 on John Cain Arena.

Gauff is another contender who might exploit the haemorrhaging of top women’s seeds and she looked like she might be about to hand out a second “double bagel” of the day when she raced through her first set against Alycia Parks.

The US Open champion’s compatriot and longtime friend did manage to stall her progress by getting on the board in the second set but Gauff still eased into the fourth round with a 6-0, 6-2 win in just over an hour on Margaret Court Arena.

SPO_240119 AUS OPEN DAY WRAP-1705660630967
Coco Gauff celebrates her victory over compatriot Alycia Parks. Image Credit: AFP

Anisimova knocks out Bedosa

“I’m really happy with how I played today,” said the fourth seed.

“I don’t think she played her best tennis today. I know when she’s at her best, she’s a tough player to play.”

There was more American success when Amanda Anisimova, ranked 442nd in the world after a lengthy break from the game, overcame former world No 2 Paula Badosa 7-5, 6-4 despite feeling unwell.