Dubai: Nick Kyrgios saved two match points in the fourth set before beating 29th-seeded Ugo Humbert 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4 in a momentum-swinging second-round match at the Australian Open.
The mercurial Australian will meet third-seeded Dominic Thiem in the third round. Thiem lost the final at last year's Australian Open and went one better to win the US Open title.
Kyrgios is playing in his first major since the 2020 Australian Open. He hasn't left Australia since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
He has played his first two matches on the the third show court at Melbourne Park. It is officially renamed the John Cain Arena this year but known by Kyrgios and his fans as the Peoples' Court.
The official crowd at Melbourne Park on Wednesday was 19,900. That is the biggest so far of the tournament. The government has restricted the capacity to about 30,000 daily because of the pandemic.
There were thousands of fans watching Kyrgios play the late match and he said they helped him through "some dark thoughts there" when he was facing match points.
German sixth seed Alexander Zverev put in a clinical display to ease past American qualifier Maxime Cressy 7-5 6-4 6-3 into the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday. The US Open finalist got a high percentage of first services in and never appeared to lose control against his fellow 23-year-old during the final match of the evening session on the Rod Laver Arena.
Zverev hit six more winners than Cressy, who is ranked 172nd, with 11 unforced errors to his opponent's 30, breaking the American's serve once in each of the first two sets and twice in the third. He converted his second match point when Cressy found the net with his return to set up a meeting with 32nd-seeded Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, who earlier defeated Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia 6-1 6-2 6-4.
Venus limps out
Venus Williams made a heartbreaking exit at the Australian Open after rolling her ankle in her second-round match against Sara Errani, losing 6-1, 6-0 in just over an hour. The seven-time major winner was trailing 5-1 in the opening set when she landed awkwardly on her ankle as she approached the net for a volley.
She fought back tears before receiving treatment on the ankle, and then her left knee, which was also troubling her. Williams gamely tried to continue, hobbling between points and tapping in second serves at around 100kph. But she couldn’t threaten Errani, a speedy, defensive player who made Williams run with drop shots, volleys and lobs.
The 40-year-old Williams was the oldest woman in the draw. She was making her 21st appearance at the Australian Open — the most among active players — and her 88th Grand Slam main draw appearance — the most among women in the Open era.
US Open champion Dominic Thiem has eased through the second round with a 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 win over Donimik Koepfer of Germany.
The No. 3-ranked Thiem reached his maiden Grand Slam final here in Australia last year before losing to Novak Djokovic. He went one better at the US Open by claiming his first major trophy.
He could face either mercurial Australian Nick Kyrgios or 29th-seeded Ugo Humbert in the third round.
Thiem said the win over Koepfer was his best so far since arriving in Australia “and there’s a lot of good stuff to build on”.
He’ll be tuning in to see who he faces next. “Definitely going to watch it and looking forward to it,” he said. “I’ll wait for (the winner) on Friday.”
Wawrinka crashes out
Former Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka wasted a big lead in the fifth-set tiebreak — and three match points — before losing to Marton Fucsovics of Hungary 7-5, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 7-6 (11-9).
Wawrinka had won four of his eight previous five-setters at the Australian Open — and he nearly made it another. But five unforced errors in the last seven points of the tiebreaker cost him the match.
The three-time major winner had 73 unforced errors in total, including 43 on his normally reliable one-handed backhand.
Fucsovics has now survived two five-set matches in his first two rounds, spending more than eight hours on court. “I feel like I’m dying,” he said after beating Wawrinka. “I’m really tired.”
Muguruza wins, Kvitova out
Two-time major winner Garbine Muguruza progressed after a 6-3, 6-1 win over Liudmila Samsonova of Russia. Muguruza has been in impressive form since the start of the year, reaching the final of last week’s Yarra Valley Classic warm-up tournament with the loss of just 10 games. She next faces Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan.
The 14th-seeded Spanish player made the final of last year’s Australian Open, falling to Sofia Kenin.
However, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was the second top 10 women’s player to fall.
Shortly after eighth-seeded Bianca Andreescu lost to Hsieh Su-wei, the ninth-seeded Kvitova was beaten by Romania’s Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 1-6, 6-1.
Kvitova had 44 unforced errors against Cirstea to just 21 winners.
Serena on song
Serena Williams is back in the third round, where her stay in the Grand Slam tournament ended a year ago. The owner of an Open era-record 23 Grand Slams singles championships moved on by grabbing the last seven games to beat 99th-ranked Nina Stojanovic of Serbia 6-3, 6-0 in a little more than an hour.
Williams saved all three break points she faced, hit a half-dozen aces and compiled 27 winners with just 11 unforced errors.
The 39-year-old American has won the title in Australia seven times, but her third-loss to Wang Qiang in the third round in 2020 was Williams’ earliest exit at Melbourne Park in 14 years.
This time, Williams will try to go further with a win against Anastasia Potapova, a 19-year-old Russian who was the junior champion at Wimbledon in 2016 and currently is ranked 101st.
Potapova has yet to win a tour-level title and will be making her debut in the third round at a major tournament.
American Ann Li is also through after beating Alize Cornet 6-2, 7-6.
Li, who is 20 and ranked 69th, made her Grand Slam debut in Melbourne a year ago and reached the third round at the US Open.
She reached her first WTA final last week at the Grampians Trophy by winning three matches. The final was called off for scheduling reasons.