AO Live Blog: Serena, Osaka roll; Andreescu out; Kyrgios' comeback win

AO Live Blog: Serena, Osaka roll; Andreescu out; Kyrgios' comeback win

Playing in her first tournament in over 15 months, Andreescu couldn't overcome the tricky 35-year-old, while Serena had no trouble against Nina Stojanovic.

From first ball to last, keep up to date with the latest from the Australian Open every day on We'll have match updates, photos, video highlights and more in our daily notebook.

Kyrgios finishes off rally to set Thiem clash

And there you have it. Nick Kyrgios summits tonight's mountain to edge No. 29 seed Ugo Humbert, 5-7, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4, after saving two match points in the fourth set.

"First of all, you guys were awesome again. Honestly, if you were in my head, I actually was just thinking about just all the sh!t I was going to cop if I lost that match," he told Jim Courier on court. "I have no idea how I did that. I'm lost for words. That's one of the craziest matches I've ever played." 

Love him or hate him, Kyrgios is an absolute showman. Up next for the Aussie? World No. 3 Dominic Thiem, last year's finalist.

Friday Night Lights, we cannot wait.

Stay tuned for more on Kyrgios from Steve Tignor.

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An early break for Kyrgios

Having earlier complained about the net cord sensor, Kyrgios vented his frustrations again at 0-1, 30-30, after believing it was incorrect on a first serve up the T. His next delivery knocked the sensor off, before Humbert lined up a backhand return winner to create break point.

Continuing his rant, Kyrgios told Marijana Veljovic, "It's ruining the game," adding a few F-Bombs before uncorking an unreturnable missile out wide. He held, then moved ahead 2-1 thanks to successive backhand winners and a deep backhand that Humbert couldn't handle.  

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Kyrgios saves two match points to force a fifth

Humbert served for his place in the third round at 5-4 in the fourth set versus Kyrgios. Humbert held match point on two separate occasions. Kyrgios decided he wasn't done yet, saving the second with a backhand pass and following it up with another backhand winner and explosive forehand winner to break.

The two would play out a tie-break, one Kyrgios dominated, 7-6 (2), and punctuated with a second-serve ace. In the last 15 minutes, Kyrgios soaked up the most vocal audience we've seen yet this year Down Under.

Halep digs deep to survive 7-5 in the third

She was down 2-5 in the final set of her second round, but Simona Halep showed why she's a two-time major champion.

Halep dug in to dash local hopes by edging Ajla Tomljanovic, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, on Margaret Court Arena. [Click here for more on the match]

The world No. 2 gets Veronika Kudermetova, the No. 32 seed, next.

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2019 women's champ sails through again

On paper, Naomi Osaka's first two unseeded opponents were about as difficult as one could draw. 

In both cases, the 2019 AO winner has cleared the hurdles with plenty of margin. Tonight, the No. 3 seed lit up Rod Laver Arena in all areas of her game to dismiss Caroline Garcia, 6-2, 6-3, in 61 minutes. Osaka's serve in particular was a highlight from start to finish: she reached back for 10 aces, faced zero break points faced and enjoyed a 14 for 20 success rate on second serve.

Last year's breakout quarterfinalist, No. 27 seed Ons Jabeur, awaits the three-time major winner.

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Fritz wins battle of besties

With a friendship dating back to their early junior days, Taylor Fritz and Reilly Opelka know each other's games in and out. Which all led to the two going to battle for more than four hours in their second-round encounter.

Having erased a break deficit in the fourth set, Opelka looked primed to advance when he built a 5-1 lead in the ensuing tie-break. The 27th-seeded Fritz then reeled off six consecutive points to force a decider, and pulled away from his compatriot, 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-2,  to book a third-round encounter with top-ranked Novak Djokovic. Both of their prior meetings, which Djokovic won handily, came during the 2019 European clay-court swing.

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Swiatek storms into round three

2019 Australian Open: No. 27 seed Camila Giorgi d. Iga Swiatek, 6-2, 6-0

2021 Australian Open: No. 15 seed Iga Swiatek d. Camila Giorgi, 6-2, 6-4

The reigning Roland Garros titlist impressed in outslugging the Italian. Swiatek produced 17 winners to 17 unforced errors, while Giorgi was far more erratic in ending with a 11 to 31 ratio. The 19-year-old Pole remains on course for a potential clash with world No. 2 Simona Halep in the round of 16.

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Djokovic pushed, Thiem breezes

It took Novak Djokovic longer than he would have liked to eliminate Frances Tiafoe, but as expected, the Serb kept his title defense alive with a 6-3, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (2), 6-3 victory.

In their first meeting, Tiafoe—who reached his first major quarterfinal here two years ago—put up a great fight as he embraced the big occasion on Rod Laver Arena. However, his low first-serve percentage (54%) and eight double faults didn’t help his cause against a man who feels at home playing on that big stage.

"When you win a lot on Rod Laver Arena, you feel comfortable," Djokovic said after the match. "It feels like my living room, although I’m not sitting on my couch—I’m running all over the place. This is the quickest court conditions in the 15 years that I’ve played here.”

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Meanwhile, third-seeded Dominic Thiem didn’t waste any time punching his ticket to the third round. The US Open champion dropped just six games en route his 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 win over Dominik Koepfer. — Ashley Ndebele

Injured Venus courageously completes match

Seven-time major singles champion Venus Williams saw her Australian Open hopes dashed when she rolled her right ankle late in her first set with Sara Errani. The American played through visible discomfort, before Errani closed out a 6-1, 6-0 win. [Click here for a recap on what happened]

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Fucsovics shuts Stan out, FAA takes flight

It looked like Marton Fucsovics' second round with Stan Wawrinka was the one that got away. Until the 2014 champion couldn't close the door. After blowing a two-set lead and failing to serve out the match at 5-3 in the fifth, Fucsovics trailed for the entirety of the decisive 10-point match tie-break, but saved three match points from 6-9 down in winning the final five points, 7-5, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (9).

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Over on Court 3, Felix Auger-Aliassime continued his strong play in Melbourne. The 20-year-old cruised past local favorite James Duckworth, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.

Auger-Aliassime, who lost his seventh straight career ATP final at the Murray River Open Saturday, has not dropped a set so far this week.

Sori soars past Kvitova

When Sorana Cirstea learned she (along with 71 other competitors) would be forced to stay inside her Melbourne hotel room for the entirety of the mandatory 14-day quarantine, after traveling on one of the charter flights that had a passenger test positive for COVID-19 upon arrival, she tweeted, "If they would have told us this rule before, I would not play in Australia. I would have stayed home."

Cirstea might feel differently now. The Romanian secured her first Top 10 win on the major stage since the 2012 AO, when she ousted incoming US Open champion Samantha Stosur—the world No. 5 at the time—in the opening round. The 30-year-old posted a 6-4, 1-6, 6-1 victory over eighth-ranked No. 8 Petra Kvitova, a finalist here two years ago, to set a third-round encounter with 2019 Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova. The left-handed Czech ended Rebecca Marino's inspiring run, 6-1, 7-5. — Matt Fitzgerald

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Serena Cruises 

Serena Williams put on a clinical performance to ease past Nina Stojanovic, 6-3, 6-0, booking her spot in third round in just 69 minutes. 

Though the first set was competitive, Serena had the lead from the get-go and wasn’t ever truly challenged. She hit five aces and 18 winners, dictating play against her less-experienced opponent. In the second set, Serena was on complete cruise control, not committing a single unforced error and reeling off six straight games. She sealed the victory on her first match point with an emphatic ace.

Stojanovic, ranked No. 99, was playing in her first-ever Grand Slam second round. — Nina Pantic

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Sabalenka Starts a New Streak, Li Continues Surge

Aryna Sabalenka returns to the third round in Melbourne for the second time in three years, navigating an uneven first set to ultimately dispatch Daria Kasatkina, 7-6 (5), 6-3.

Sabalenka, whose 15-match winning streak came to an abrupt end last week at the Gippsland Trophy, trailed the former world No. 10 for most of the first set, but leveled proceedings in time for a tie-break. Despite 30 unforced errors to just four from Kasatkina, Sabalenka nonetheless took the lead with 22 winners of her own, and withstood a second set surge from the Russian to ultimately advance in just under 90 minutes on Margaret Court Arena.

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With just one Grand Slam second week appearance to her name, can the nine-time WTA title winner reverse her trend of under-performing on the game’s biggest stages?

Standing in her way will be surging American Ann Li, who is into the third round of a major for the second time after outlasting French veteran Alizé Cornet, 6-2, 7-6(6). Cornet was playing her 56th straight Grand Slam main draw—fast approaching the all-time record of 62 currently held by Ai Sugiyama—and her experience nearly helped her force a deciding set before Li, a co-champion at the unfinished Grampians Trophy, edged through in two. —David Kane

Potapova Breaks New Ground Down Under

Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova backed up her upset of No. 24 seed Alison Riske with a 6-2, 6-4 win over former world No. 25 Timea Babos to reach her first major third round.

A former junior Wimbledon champion, Potapova incurred a catastrophic ankle injury while the WTA Tour was locked down due to COVID-19, and spent six months off the court before returning to action at the start of 2021.

Down 2-4 in the second set, Potapova won the final four games, converting her second match point to enjoy her best Grand Slam finish of her young career.

The 19-year-old could play 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams next; the pair played at this very tournament last year in the first round, where the American advanced in straight sets.

Click here to learn more about Potapova’s comeback. — David Kane

Andreescu falls to Hsieh 

Expectations change quickly in tennis. Bianca Andreescu hadn’t played a match in 467 days until her three-set, first-round win over Mihaela Buzarnescu on Monday; by Tuesday, many were back on the No. 8 seed’s bandwagon—and why not, considering the last time we saw her on a big stage. In her transcendent 2019, she won huge titles in Indian Wells, her native Canada and the US Open. Also of note from that year: Andreescu won 16 of her 20 three-set matches. She’ll hope to add another victory on Wednesday, after dropping the first set in her second-rounder to the crafty Hsieh Su-wei, 6-3.

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Overlook Hsieh at your own peril, although by now, anyone who watches the sport with a modicum of seriousness knows how effective her one-of-a-kind game can be, even against the world’s best. With her mix of slice, spins, pace and direction, Hsieh’s opponents need to be locked in to prevail. Andreescu was not, making 11 unforced errors and winning just two of nine second-serve points.

“She was playing Hsieh Su-wei’s game,” said Tennis Channel’s Martina Navratilova after the first set. “[Andreescu] needs to move her, redirect every chance she has.” Andreescu appeared to be rounding into form as the set progressed; she trailed 5-1, got a break back for 5-3, and had a game point for 5-4—but not before the world No. 71 (and No. 1 in doubles) took the set.

After going down quickly 3-0, Andreescu showed flashes of brilliance but she couldn't throw Hsieh off her game. The 35-year-old would race to the finish line, 6-3, 6-2. — Ed McGrogan