Australian Open 2021: Djokovic, Serena win; Wawrinka squanders three match points, Andreescu's comeback stalled

Though Tiafoe played an aggressive match, Djokovic was better when it mattered. He had the edge in terms of winners (56-49) and converted five break points to just two for Tiafoe.

The Associated Press February 10, 2021 08:33:48 IST
Australian Open 2021: Djokovic, Serena win; Wawrinka squanders three match points, Andreescu's comeback stalled

Novak Djokovic dropped the second set in win over Frances Tiafoe at the Australian Open. AP

Melbourne: Top-seeded Novak Djokovic fended off a spirited challenge from Frances Tiafoe in the second round of the Australian Open, beating the young 23-year-old American 6-3, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (2), 6-3 in a 3 1/2-hour match.

Both players were on serve in the fourth set and looked headed for another tiebreaker when Tiafoe was given a time violation on his serve. He lost his temper — and then his serve — to fall behind 3-4. He didn't win another game in the match.

Though Tiafoe played an aggressive match, Djokovic was better when it mattered. He had the edge in terms of winners (56-49) and converted five break points to just two for Tiafoe.

Djokovic had only lost in the second round once at Melbourne Park, against Denis Istomin in 2017.

Former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu's comeback from injury stalled when she became the latest top-10 player to be beaten by crafty veteran Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan. Andreescu's power was no match for Hsieh's shotmaking in a second-round upset, 6-3, 6-2.

Andreescu beat Serena Williams in the final at the 2019 US Open but sat out all of 2020 because of a knee injury. She said she felt rusty but healthy this week.

Australian Open 2021 Djokovic Serena win Wawrinka squanders three match points Andreescus comeback stalled

Bianca Andreescu was playing her first tournament in over a year. AP

"I definitely have to get back in the groove of things," said Andreescu, who was seeded eighth. "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. It's such an amazing feeling being back and doing what I love."

Williams followed Andreescu onto the court at Rod Laver Arena and had only 11 unforced errors as she swept Nina Stojanovic 6-3, 6-0.

"I wasn't thinking so much in the second set as I was in the first," Williams said. "I kind of just let go and see what happened."

Andreescu, a 20-year-old Canadian, seemed befuddled by the 35-year-old Hsieh's unorthodox game, which includes a two-handed forehand and an unpredictable mix of pace and placement.

"She can literally redirect any single ball you give her," Andreescu said. "She can change the rhythm. I can change the rhythm too, but she's on another level, at least today."

It didn't help that Andreescu served poorly, losing 17 of 23 points on her second serve. She was broken six times and fell to 1-3 in the second round at Grand Slams, with the lone win coming during her run to the US Open title.

Hsieh is ranked 71st and has a history of inconsistency. But she's 8-2 against top 10 players, including two wins over the reigning world No. 1 - Simona Halep at Wimbledon in 2018, and Naomi Osaka at Miami in 2019.

"It's strange — I normally feel more excited to play with better players," Hsieh said.

Another Canadian mounting a comeback also lost. Rebecca Marino, a former top-40 player competing in a major tournament for the first time in eight years, was beaten by No. 19-seeded Marketa Vondrousova 6-1, 7-5.

Marino had been sidelined with depression and then a serious foot injury.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, the 2019 Australian Open runner-up, lost to Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 1-6, 6-1. Garbiñe Muguruza, the Australian Open runner-up last year, defeated Liudmila Samsonova 6-3, 6-1.

Venus Williams made a heartbreaking exit 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 1-5 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 100 kph (62mph). 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.

Ann Li, a 20-year-old American, reached the third round for the second major in a row by beating Alize Cornet 6-2, 7-6 (6). No. 7-seeded Aryna Sabalenka eliminated Daria Kasatkina 7-6 (5), 6-3.

Australian Open 2021 Djokovic Serena win Wawrinka squanders three match points Andreescus comeback stalled

Marton Fucsovics saved three match points to beat Stan Wawrinka in five sets at the Australian Open. AP

In men's play, 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 in the second round, 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.”

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.”

Qualifier Aslan Karatsev of Russia nearly shut out Egor Gerasimov, 6-0, 6-1, 6-0. No. 8 Diego Schwartzman and No. 20 Felix Auger-Aliassime were among the seeded men to advance.

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