Australian Open

Sun shines but not the stars as French Open champ Jelena Ostapenko crashes out at scorching Australian Open

Kyrgios left flying the flag for Australia as Coco is left bitter at picking up the biggest fine at the tournament so far

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 January, 2018, 9:54pm
UPDATED : Friday, 19 January, 2018, 9:54pm

French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko is out of the Australian Open, beaten 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 by Anett Kontaveit in the third round at Melbourne Park.

Ostapenko won six out of seven games after an injury timeout following the first set to have her left thigh strapped.

In the third set, Kontaveit broke Ostapenko’s service in the seventh game, held and then broke again in the ninth to end the match.

It continued Ostapenko’s poor start to the season since hiring a new coach, Australian David Taylor. She lost in the first round at tournaments in Shenzhen and Sydney.

Marin Cilic reached the fourth round of the Australian Open for the first time in seven years with a 7-6 (4), 6-3, 7-6 (4) win over Ryan Harrison.

The sixth-seeded Cilic made the round of 16 at Melbourne Park for four straight years from 2008-11, including a run to the semi-finals in 2010, but hasn’t returned since.

Cilic had 53 winners in the match, including 16 aces, and won 26 of 29 points at net.

Cilic next faces 10th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta for a spot in the quarter-finals.

Nick Kyrgios won the last five points of the tiebreaker to beat 2008 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5) and remain with a chance of providing a first Australian male singles winner of the Australian Open in 42 years.

Trailing 5-2 in the tiebreaker, Kyrgios went on a roll as Tsonga appeared to struggle with a knee issue.

Kyrgios is the last of nine Australian male players left in the singles draw. Mark Edmondson was the last Australian to win his national championship in 1976, although Lleyton Hewitt came close, losing the 2005 final to Marat Safin.

The 17th-seeded Kyrgios will play third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round. Dimitrov beat Andrey Rublev in four sets earlier Friday.

Ivo Karlovic may have lost his third-round match at the Australian Open against Andreas Seppi, but he is still accomplishing new feats – at nearly 39 years old.

The big-serving 2.11 metre (6-foot-11) Croatian player smacked 50 aces in back-to-back matches for the first time in his career, hitting 53 in his five-set, second-round win over Yuichi Sugita and another 52 in Friday’s five-set loss to Seppi.

Karlovic fell just short of becoming the oldest player to reach the fourth round of a grand slam since Jimmy Connors’ run to the US Open semi-finals in 1991.

How does he keep doing it? Karlovic says it’s simple: He hits the gym, lifts weights and runs.

“I always say that it’s about the fitness level,” he says. “I don’t feel any weaker than when I was 28.”

Karlovic’s ranking has slid from number 21 to 89 in the past year, but if he can keep it high enough to continue playing in ATP-level events, he could see himself sticking around for several more years.

“I think I can still do upsets here and there, so I like it still,” he said.

Seppi plays Kyle Edmund of Britain in the fourth round. Edmund also had a five-set win on Friday, beating Nikoloz Basilashvili in three hours, 34 minutes.

Top-seeded Rafael Nadal is through to the fourth round at Melbourne Park, beating Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 in a night match at Margaret Court Arena.

Nadal, who lost the 2017 final here to Roger Federer, is attempting to win the Australian Open for the second time – the first was in 2009 – and add to his 16 major titles, second only among men to Federer’s 19.

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In the round of 16 on Sunday, the Spanish left-hander will play Diego Schwartzman, who beat Alexandr Dolgopolov in four sets earlier Friday.

Third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov has advanced to the fourth round at Melbourne Park, beating Andrey Rublev 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in a Rod Laver Arena match which concluded the day session on the main show court.

After beating qualifiers in his first two matches, Dimitrov had a much more difficult time against the 30th-seeded Rublev. Serving for the match, Dimitrov faced a break point before advancing on his first match point, clinching it with a winner off a Rublev drop shot.

Coco Vandeweghe has been hit with the largest fine of the 2018 Australian Open so far – a US$10,000 penalty for unsporting conduct for screaming an obscenity at her first-round opponent, Timea Babos.

Vandeweghe said after the match that she was irritated by what she described as excessive celebrating by her Hungarian opponent during their match.

Coco Vandeweghe in hot water after 10th seed goes bananas at fruitless Australian Open in Melbourne

The 10th-seeded Vandeweghe was assessed a code violation for the obscenity and delay of game for insisting on eating a banana during a changeover, getting docked a point in the second set of her 7-6 (4), 6-2 loss.

Borna Coric has received the largest fine thus far in the men’s draw – US$5,000 for shattering his racquet during his first-round loss to John Millman.

Elina Svitolina ended 15-year-old Marta Kostyuk’s strong run at Melbourne Park.

The fourth-seeded Svitolina beat her fellow Ukrainian 6-2, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena to advance to the fourth round.

Kostyuk, who had nine double faults Friday, including on match point, received entry into qualifying because of her junior girls’ victory last year at the Australian Open. She won all three qualifying matches, then her first two in the main draw.

Her win over Peng Shuai in the first round made her the youngest player to win a main-draw match at the Australian Open since Martina Hingis in 1996.

Kostyuk entered the tournament ranked number 521. A Women’s Tennis Association official said on Friday her ranking should improve to around 250 because of her performance at Melbourne Park.

Qualifier Denisa Allertova became the first player to advance to the fourth round of the Australian Open after defeating Magda Linette 6-1, 6-4 at Margaret Court Arena.

Allertova will next play fourth-seeded Svitolina.

Petra Martic celebrated her 27th birthday with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 win over Luksika Kumkhum to advance to the fourth round at Melbourne Park.

Luksika had beaten Belinda Bencic in the second round after Bencic defeated Venus Williams in the first.

The Croatian player will take on Elise Mertens next after she beat Alize Cornet.

French player Cornet has called for the extreme heat policy at the Australian Open to be re-evaluated after she said she nearly fainted in the grilling temperatures during her third-round match Friday at Melbourne Park.

Other players echoed her concerns, with Rafael Nadal saying playing in such extreme heat can be “a little bit dangerous for the health”.

“Have been very, very tough conditions yesterday and today,” said the top-ranked Nadal, who played at night on Friday after the temperatures had dropped. “It’s not nice to see players suffering that much on court.”

The tournament’s extreme heat policy calls for the roofs to be closed on the main show courts and play to be suspended on outer courts when the temperature reaches 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) and the wet-bulb globe temperature (WBGT), which takes into account humidity and wind speed, reaches 32.5 Celsius (90.5 Fahrenheit).

The high temperature Friday marginally topped 40 Celsius, but the WBGT remained below the threshold, so play was not halted.

Cornet said she began feeling dizzy at the beginning of the second set against Belgium’s Elise Mertens and, at one point, fell to her back on the court in obvious distress. She received a medical timeout so a trainer could check her pulse and blood pressure and wrap her in an ice vest before she returned to the court.

Cornet was able to finish the match, losing 7-5, 6-4. But she later said it was “dangerous” to play in that kind of heat.

Petra Martic, who won a two-hour, third-round match against Luksika Kumkhum during the hottest part of the day on Friday, said she got blisters on her feet from the sizzling court and had to take painkillers after the second set.

“It’s really tough on your feet to play in these conditions,” she said. “I was hoping they would close [the roof], but the temperature was not high enough … So unfortunately it stayed this way.”

French player Gael Monfils staggered through part of his second-round loss to Novak Djokovic on Thursday, saying he “had a small heatstroke for 40 minutes,” and likewise described the conditions as a risk to players.

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Roger Federer, who requested to play at night to avoid the blistering heat on Thursday, said he believed the officials were doing the best they could under the circumstances.

“What do you do … stop all matches? The lucky guys on the big courts, they get to play under the roof. The other guys get postponed till the next day? Is that great?” he said. “Is everybody going to finish at 3 in the morning, like a rainy day in New York. I’ve had that, too. Is that better? I’m not sure, honestly.”