Melbourne: Top seed Rafa Nadal continued his marauding path through the Australian Open, hammering Argentine Leonardo Mayer 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4) to reach the third round on Wednesday.
Nadal, the 2017 runner-up, wasted no time in and dropped only one service game — while serving for the match — and made just 10 unforced errors in his dominant win.
"It's an important victory for me, I mean, he's a tough opponent. Leonardo is a player with big potential," said Nadal, who won the French and US Open titles last year but had his preparation for Australia delayed because of an injured right knee. "After a while without being on the competition ... second victory in a row, that's very important."
French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko was pushed all the way by China's Duan Yingying before grinding out a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 win in the second round.
The big-hitting Latvian let out a scream of joy on match point after a battling victory Wednesday in an hour and 44 minutes.
Ostapenko dropped her serve twice before winning a see-saw opening set 6-3. But the Chinese world number 100 bounced back to take the second by the same scoreline.
The final act followed a similar pattern with the pair locked on serve until 4-4 when Ostapenko edged in front. And she served out with massive yell of emotion towards her supporters.
"She was hitting the ball really hard," said seventh seeded Ostapenko. "I'm so happy I could win.
"Everyone wants to beat you when you've won a Grand Slam so I'll just keep trying my best."
Wozniacki and Tsonga stage comebacks
There was more drama earlier on the center court and Margaret Court Arena, when second-seeded Caroline Wozniacki and 2008 runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga had to come back from big deficits.
Wozniacki was 5-1 down and facing two match points in third set against No. 119-ranked Jana Fett before deciding she had no choice but to attack.
"That was crazy," Wozniacki said after winning the last six games in a memorable 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory. "I don't know how I got back into the match. I was like, 'This is my last chance.
"At 5-1, 40-15, I felt like I was one foot out of the tournament. She served a great serve down the T — it was just slightly out. I was kind of lucky."
Wozniacki won the next nine points, and 24 of the 31 points played from when she first faced match point. She clinched a 75-minute third set on her first match point when Fett netted a backhand.
The former No 1-ranked Wozniacki will next play No 30 Kiki Bertens, who beat Nicole Gibbs 7-6(3), 6-0.
Tsonga rallied from 5-2 in the fifth to overcome Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(4), 7-5 in a 3-hour, 37-minute match that contained one of his nonchalant between-the-legs shots on an important point. And 38-year-old Ivo Karlovic overcame Yuichi Sugita 7-6(3), 6-7(3), 7-5, 4-6, 12-10.
Marta Kostyuk came from the other angle, the 15-year-old qualifier followed up her first-round win over 25th-seeded Peng Shuai with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over wild-card entry Olivia Rogowska.
The Australian Open junior champion last year, who entered the season-opening major ranked No 521, Kostyuk became the youngest player since Martina Hingis in 1996 to win main draw matches at the season-opening major.
Things will get harder for her now, against fellow Ukrainian and No 4-seeded Elina Svitolina, who had a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 win over Katerina Siniakova.
Another Ukrainian, Kateryna Bondarenko, beat No 15-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-3 and will next play No. 19 Magdalena Rybarikova.
Belinda Bencic had a letdown two days after upsetting Venus Williams, losing 6-1, 6-3 to Thai qualifier Luksika Kumkhum.
Among the seeded men advancing were No 6 Marin Cilic, who beat Joao Sousa 6-1, 7-5, 6-2, and No 10 Pablo Carreno Busta, who was leading 6-2, 3-0 when Gilles Simon retired from their second-round match with a thigh injury.
No 23 Gilles Muller outlasted Malek Jaziri in five sets, Kyle Edmund had a straight-sets win over Denis Istomin — who beat then defending-champion Novak Djokovic in the second round here last year — and No 28 Damir Dzumhur beat John Millman.
Ryan Harrison beat No 31 Pablo Cuevas 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-4.
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: Jan 17, 2018 15:40 PM | Updated Date: Jan 17, 2018 15:40 PM