Novak Djokovic turned back a challenge by American Frances Tiafoe on Wednesday, ultimately prevailing in four hard-fought sets to advance to the third round at the Australian Open.
The top-seeded Djokovic defeated Tiafoe 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 in a 3.5-hour match.
Djokovic Breaks Through in Fourth Set
The match stood on a razor’s edge at 3-3 in the fourth set. But Tiafoe earned a time violation on his serve and lost his composure, allowing Djokovic to go up a break and eventually close out the match.
“He pushed me to the very limit,” Djokovic said after the match. “I was trying to work around his backhand and kind of penetrate through the court there, open him up, but he wasn’t giving me anything. He’s a very quick player.”
Tiafoe questioned the implementation of time penalties under current COVID-19 protocols, as ball kids are not permitted to hold towels for players.
“Could I have handled it better? Yes,” Tiafoe said afterwards. “I mean, that just broke me. I’m out there battling world No. 1, and like he needs any more help, you know?”
Williams, Osaka, Halep Advance
Most of the big names on the women’s side of the Australian Open draw also made it through to the third round on Wednesday. Serena Williams dominated Nina Stojanovic in a one-sided 6-3, 6-0 drubbing. Naomi Osaka only faced a little more resistance, beating Carolina Garcia 6-2, 6-3.
“It felt great, I haven’t played a night match in a long time,” Osaka said after the win. “Staying focused throughout the entire match, it’s hard to play opponents like her because you never know what she is going to do or how hard she is going to hit.”
No. 2 seed Simona Halep needed to stage a comeback in order to beat Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.
“I expected she’s going to play hard and very strong,” Halep said after the match. “I expected it would be a difficult match, but it was more than I thought. I’m really happy I can smile now.”
Australian Open Ends Early for Andreescu
Canadian star Bianca Andreescu was not so lucky. The former US Open champion and No. 8 seed lost to the inconsistent but dangerous Hsieh Su-wei 6-3, 6-2. Andreescu was making her return to play after sitting out all of 2020 with a knee injury.
“I definitely have to get back in the groove of things,” Andreescu said. “I don’t feel at my best on the court, for sure, but I’m super happy I’m finally back after being off for so long.”
|Australian Open Odds – Selected Thursday Matches (via PointsBet)|
|Danielle Collins: +100||No. 6 Karolina Pliskova: -125|
|No. 1 Ashleigh Barty: -1500||Daria Gavrilova: +725|
|No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas: -1000||Thanasi Kokkinakis: +575|
|Coco Gauff: +160||No. 5 Elina Svitolina: -200|
|No. 4 Sofia Kenin: -140||Kaia Kanepi: +112|
Second round matches continue on Thursday, with No. 1 seed Ashleigh Barty facing fellow Australian Daria Gavrilova on Rod Laver Arena. Barty comes in as a -1500 favorite against Gavrilova (+725), according to PointsBet.
Also on tap for Thursday, No. 4 seed and defending Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin (-140) faces a test in the form of Kaia Kanepi (+112), while Rafael Nadal is a -5000 favorite against American qualifier Michael Mmoh (+1600), according to FanDuel Sportsbook.