The Ball Is In Your Court

Social Media

Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

The Quest for Stars & Trophies

2017 State Championships

Submit Your Award Nominations Today

News
Syndicate content
Headline News - powered by FeedBurner
Updated: 3 days 9 hours ago

Fans React To Zverev Win Over Murray Australian Open 2017

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 2:15pm
Fans at Melbourne Park react to the shock exit of World No. 1 Andy Murray at the hands of Mischa Zverev.

Murray: 'It Just Wasn't To Be Today'

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 1:59pm

Andy Murray's first Australian Open title will have to wait another year after the Scot fell to German Mischa Zverev 7-5, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 during the fourth round. But Murray didn't have a list of excuses or regrets to discuss following his earliest exit in Melbourne since 2009, when he also lost in the Round of 16.

“I had some opportunities at the end. I think the last two service games I had chances. Maybe three service games in the last set I had opportunities,” Murray said. “But then he came back from all of the mistakes that he made, kept coming up with great shots. There's not too much you can do about that. Sometimes you got to say, 'Well played'. It was obviously disappointing to lose. But he did some good stuff out there.”

Zverev charged the net 118 times against Murray, winning 55 per cent of those approaches. Overall, Zverev won almost more points at the net – 65 – than he did elsewhere – 81.

[ALSO LIKE]

“He came up with some great pickups, reflex volleys, especially at the end of the match when it was tight. That was tough because I was hitting some good shots, chasing some good balls down,” Murray said. “Just wasn't meant to be. He served very well when he needed to, especially when he was behind in games. He deserved to win because he played great when he was down and also in the important moments.”

Murray was attempting to reach the quarter-finals for an eighth straight year and reach the Australian Open final for the sixth time. The 29 year old has finished as runner-up in Melbourne a record five times, losing to Roger Federer in 2010 and Novak Djokovic in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016. Had Murray won, he would have faced Federer in the quarter-finals.

“Did I miss an opportunity? I don't know. Every year you come is a different chance, different opportunity,” Murray said. “There are certainly no guarantees, even if I got through today's match, that I would have gone further. Yeah, it's disappointing to lose. I don't feel like this is any more of an opportunity than other years.

“I don't think I was flat... I was getting myself pumped up. Sometimes at the end of the sets I was trying to get a little more energy, show more positive body language. And I did that at the end of the match, at the end of the first and second sets. It just wasn't to be today.”

Federer Outlasts Nishikori For Quarter-Final Berth

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 12:40pm

Roger Federer dug in his heels to stop Kei Nishikori on Sunday at the Australian Open, rallying past the fifth seed 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 in three hours and 23 minutes. Federer secured a milestone 200th win over a Top 10 opponent, becoming the first active player to achieve the feat.

"He played his heart out and I thought he played a great match, I'm happy to be a part of it," said Federer. "He was hanging tough and playing really well on the big points. I was telling myself to stay calm and this is what I trained for in the offseason. This is a big moment for me in my career."

The four-time champion exhibited great resolve in fighting back for his 25th career five-set victory. He will feature in the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park for the 13th time in the last 14 years, with a date against Mischa Zverev awaiting on Tuesday. Federer won their previous two FedEx ATP Head2Head encounters, most recently on the grass of Halle in 2013.

[ALSO LIKE]

Federer fired a staggering 83 winners, including 24 aces, while converting seven of 18 break chances. But it wasn't all smooth sailing for the 17th seed. Striking the ball with conviction and peppering the Federer backhand early and often, Nishikori burst out of the gates, breaking twice in a row for a 5-1 first-set lead. The Japanese was more aggressive in the initial stages, jumping on Federer's second serve and crashing the net frequently.

But the Swiss stayed the course, slowly chipping away at Nishikori's lead and eventually drawing level at 5-all. Nishikori would take the opener in a tie-break, but momentum had swung firmly in his opponent's corner. Federer streaked to a two-sets-to-one lead and later snatched a quick break for 2-0 in the decider, after Nishikori sent the match the distance. He would emerge victorious on his first match point with an emphatic overhead smash.

"I didn't expect him to play this well from the start and that put me on the back foot for the remainder of the match to some extent," added Federer. "But I was able to wrestle it back in my favour. I got myself into the match and started to play the good sets that I knew I could. The question was could I hang with Kei until the very end. I was able to do that, so I'm super happy.

"You have a game plan and he's got a game plan. Sometimes it doesn't match up the right way for you. He was quick out of the blocks. I was accepting it and moving on with it, trying to at least find some sort of a rhythm going into the second set... I was still upbeat about my chances after that first set. I think it gave me something coming back into that set actually."

But the Swiss stayed the course, slowly chipping away at Nishikori's lead and eventually drawing level at 5-all. Nishikori would take the opener in a tie-break, but momentum had swung firmly in his opponent's corner. Federer streaked to a two-sets-to-one lead and later snatched a quick break for 2-0 in the decider, after Nishikori sent the match the distance. He would emerge victorious on his first match point with an emphatic overhead smash.

Federer improved to 5-2 against Nishikori in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, meeting for the first time since the Swiss prevailed in their group stage match at the 2015 ATP Finals. The Japanese saw his three-match win streak in five-setters snapped, falling to 14-6 in his career. According to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, his impressive 100-31 (.763) career record in deciding-set matches remains tops among all players in the Open Era. Learn More

"I'm really disappointed to lose like this, especially after I started really well," said Nishikori, who exited in the Aussie Open fourth round for the third time in five years. "I missed some chances from 5-2 in the first set and I think I let him come back. He was playing good tennis especially in the middle, the second and third sets. I maybe had some chances in fifth set to come back in the match, but he was way too strong."

Tsonga Continues Melbourne Success

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 10:05am

No. 12 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga continued his love affair with the Australian Open on Sunday, not dropping serve as he thrilled the Melbourne crowd with a tight 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 fourth-round win over Daniel Evans on Hisense Arena.

The 2008 runner-up is into the quarter-finals here for the first time since 2013. Tsonga now plays fourth seed Stan Wawrinka for a place in the last four. The Swiss star leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 4-3 and has won their past three matches.

"It's going to be a tough match," said Tsonga. "I know he's playing really good. It's going to be important for me to be good in this match and play my best level.

"I think I will be ready. It's going to be a good challenge for me to play against Stan."

Evans was competing in the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time, having stunned Marin Cilic and Bernard Tomic at Melbourne Park. He had reached his first ATP World Tour final last week in Sydney (l. to Muller). 

The Briton continued his hot form against Tsonga, striking first in the tie-break by taking a 3/1 lead and holding his slight advantage the rest of the way. Tsonga responded brilliantly by racing to a 4-0 lead in the second set and ultimately levelling the match at one set each.

The Frenchman broke Evans immediately to start off the third set. Little separated the pair, but that early advantage was all Tsonga needed to take a commanding lead. The fourth set was nearly identical, with Tsonga grabbing an early break and comfortably serving out the match to love to prevail in two hours and 53 minutes.

"Before the match I knew if it started to be really physical, it was going to be on my side, I think," said Tsonga. "That's what happened. So the first set was difficult. Then I played pretty strong and made him run a lot in the second set.

"I just served really well, too. Then it was an advantage for me. I didn't have to defend too many break points. That was an advantage for me."

The 31-year-old Tsonga, who finished runner-up to Novak Djokovic in his lone Grand Slam final at Melbourne Park in 2008, is bidding to reach his first major semi-final since Roland Garros 2015, when he fell to Wawrinka. 

[ALSO LIKE]

Zverev Stuns Murray To Reach First Major QF

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 8:28am

The fairytale run continued for Mischa Zverev as he produced a bold display of tennis on Sunday to shock top seed Andy Murray 7-5, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 in the fourth round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.

It was an inspired serve-and-volley performance from Zverev, who had watched from the player box as his younger brother, Alexander Zverev, pushed Rafael Nadal to five sets on Saturday. With the win, Mischa Zverev moves into his first Grand Slam quarter-final. He now plays the winner between No. 17 seed Roger Federer and fifth seed Kei Nishikori. Zverev has never played Nishikori, but Federer leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 2-0.

[ALSO LIKE]

Competing in the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time, Zverev was unawed by his surroundings on Rod Laver Arena. He rallied from 0-3 down in the first set by forcing Murray out of his game and even producing some vintage serve-and-volley moments, ultimately grabbing the opening set.

But Murray was not going to go away quietly. Although both players struggled on serve in the second set, with five of the 12 games highlighted by service breaks, the top seed was able to take control in most of the baseline rallies. With Zverev serving at 5-6, Murray rifled a backhand winner on his first set point to level the match at one set each.

Zverev cleaned up his serve considerably in the third set, landing 74 per cent of his first serves. He also continued to put pressure on Murray with his return, breaking the top seed twice to take a commanding advantage in the match.

The German opened up the fourth set with an early break of serve and held his slight advantage the rest of the way. Serving for the match at 5-4, a forehand error from Murray wrapped up the contest in three hours and 33 minutes.  

The win records a remarkable career turnaround over the past two years for Zverev, who was ranked No. 1,067 in the Emirates ATP Rankings in March 2015. The 29 year old made great strides back up the standings in 2016, returning to the Top 100 after a run to the quarter-finals of the Shanghai Rolex Masters (l. to Djokovic) and closing in on the Top 50 after making the semi-finals of the Swiss Indoors Basel (l. to Cilic). 

Zverev Stuns Murray To Reach First Major QF

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 8:28am
.videoWrapper { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; /* 16:9 */ padding-top: 25px; height: 0; } .videoWrapper iframe { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }

The fairytale run continued for Mischa Zverev as he produced a bold display of tennis on Sunday, breaking top seed Andy Murray eight times to post a shocking 7-5, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 victory in the fourth round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.

"It was definitely the best match of my life," said Zverev. "Not only because it was a best-of-five set match, it was at a slam. It was just incredible."

It was an inspired serve-and-volley performance from Zverev, who had watched from the player box as his younger brother, Alexander Zverev, pushed Rafael Nadal to five sets on Saturday. With the win, Mischa Zverev moves into his first Grand Slam quarter-final. He now plays No. 17 seed Roger Federer, who beat fifth seed Kei Nishikori 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-1 4-6, 6-3. Federer leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 2-0.

[ALSO LIKE]

Competing in the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time, Zverev was unawed by his surroundings on Rod Laver Arena. He rallied from 0-3 down in the first set by forcing Murray out of his game and even producing some vintage serve-and-volley moments, ultimately grabbing the opening set.

Australian Open 2017 Highlights">Watch Highlights

But Murray was not going to go away quietly. Although both players struggled on serve in the second set, with five of the 12 games highlighted by service breaks, the top seed was able to take control in most of the baseline rallies. With Zverev serving at 5-6, Murray rifled a backhand winner on his first set point to level the match at one set each.

Zverev cleaned up his serve considerably in the third set, landing 74 per cent of his first serves. He also continued to put pressure on Murray with his return, breaking the top seed twice to take a commanding advantage in the match.

The German opened up the fourth set with an early break of serve and held his slight advantage the rest of the way. Serving for the match at 5-4, a forehand error from Murray wrapped up the contest in three hours and 33 minutes.  

"I believed in myself. I believed in my game," said Zverev. "I believed that playing serve and volley against him and slicing a lot, trying to destroy his rhythm was going to work, which it did in the end.

Read More: Zverev Had One Plan Against Murray, And It Worked

"I felt comfortable going for three, four sets, even though it wasn't that hot, but it was still pretty warm. I felt like I could hang in there with him,  sometimes rally and come in quickly. I feel like everything just worked out well."

The win records a remarkable career turnaround over the past two years for Zverev, who was ranked No. 1,067 in the Emirates ATP Rankings in March 2015. The 29 year old made great strides back up the standings in 2016, returning to the Top 100 after a run to the quarter-finals of the Shanghai Rolex Masters (l. to Djokovic) and closing in on the Top 50 after making the semi-finals of the Swiss Indoors Basel (l. to Cilic). 

Zverev was competing in the round of 16 at a major for the first time after saving two match points to topple John Isner in five sets in the second round.

Wawrinka Fights Past Seppi

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 7:44am

Fourth seed Stan Wawrinka survived a tight battle against Andreas Seppi on Sunday at the Australian Open in Melbourne, moving into the quarter-finals with a 7-6(2), 7-6(4), 7-6(4) win on Margaret Court Arena.

"I think this match was the best match of the tournament so far," said Wawrinka, who was taken to five sets by Martin Klizan in the first round. "I know that my level is there, that physically I'm feeling good. So most important is to win, to still be in the tournament.

"I'm really happy to make the quarter-finals again. It's a big result. I'm going to enjoy tonight and get ready for the next one."

Both players lost their serve once in the opening set, but mainly traded routine service holds. The Swiss star found a new gear in the tie-break, winning the final six points to grab the opening set. Wawrinka and Seppi didn’t drop serve in the second set, but it was the fourth seed who once again came out on top in the tie-break to take a commanding two-sets lead.

Seppi had a chance to serve out the third set after breaking his opponent at 5-5, but was unable to capitalise on a set point opportunity. Wawrinka went on a five-point run in the tie-break to lead 6/3 and made good on his second match point to wrap up the win in two hours and 43 minutes.

"It was a tough and close match, that's for sure," said Wawrinka. "Three tie-breaks, almost three hours. It was very close.

"I think we both played really well. Tough conditions. Good conditions, but quite fast. So it was interesting to play against him. I think I found a good way how to be aggressive, to mix the speed on the court today on important points, important moments, and to take advantage of that.

"I'm really happy with the level and to have won in three sets."

[ALSO LIKE]

Next up for the 2014 Australian Open champion is the winner between No. 12 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Daniel Evans. Wawrinka leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Tsonga 4-3 and has won their past three matches. He also leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head with Evans 1-0, saving a match point in defeating the Brit in the third round of the 2016 US Open

Herbert/Mahut Save 3 M.P. In Melbourne

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 7:17am

Top seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut saved three match points on Sunday to move into the doubles quarter-finals at the Australian Open, while local wild card pairings Marc Polmans/Andrew Whittington and Alex Bolt/Bradley Mousley delighted the home crowd by also reaching the last eight.

Herbert/Mahut were perilously close to defeat with No. 16 seeds Dominic Inglot/Florin Mergea holding three match points on their serve at 5-4 in the second set, but the French pair fought them off to grab the break and took control of the match to prevail 2-6, 7-5, 6-2. The top seeds are looking for their first title in Melbourne, having previously finished runner-up here in 2015 (l. Bolelli/Fognini).

Next up for them are Polmans/Whittington, who continued their dream run by defeating No. 11 seeds Jean-Julien Rojer/Horia Tecau 7-6(5), 7-6(5). Polmans is making his Grand Slam main draw debut at this tournament, while Whittington reached the doubles quarter-finals here in 2014 (w/Bolt).

[ALSO LIKE]

Bolt/Mousley survived an epic 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 battle against Americans Sam Querrey/Donald Young. Little separated the two teams, but the Aussies grabbed the essential break in the final game of the match to wrap up the win. Mousley is also making his Grand Slam main draw debut this fortnight.

Standing between them and a spot in the final four is Pablo Carreno Busta/Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who advanced 7-6(6), 6-4 in an all-Spanish battle against fifth seeds Feliciano Lopez/Marc Lopez. Carreno Busta/Garcia Lopez saved a set point at 5/6 in the opening set tie-break. This is the best doubles result for both players in Melbourne, but they’ll look to at least match their runner-up showing at the 2016 US Open (l. Murray/Soares). 

Seppi Searching For Another Melbourne Upset Australian Open 2017

Sat, 01/21/2017 - 6:34pm
Some of Andreas Seppi's biggest wins have come at the Australian Open and the Italian is gearing up for another upset when he faces Stan Wawrinka in the fourth round at Melbourne Park.

Alex Bublik King Of Tricks

Sat, 01/21/2017 - 5:02pm
Check out the tennis tricks that NextGenATP Alex Bublik has got on the back streets of Melbourne.

Dimitrov Breezes Into Round Of 16 At 2 A.M.

Sat, 01/21/2017 - 4:20pm

Grigor Dimitrov was eager to avoid a late-night marathon at the Australian Open on Saturday, dispatching 18th seed Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in two hours and two minutes to advance to the fourth round.

After Rafael Nadal's five-set victory over Alexander Zverev extended the day session on Rod Laver Arena, Dimitrov and Gasquet didn't get underway until 11:58 p.m. local time in Melbourne. The seventh battle between two of the more majestic one-handed backhands on tour would go the way of the Bulgarian in convincing fashion. He fired 48 winners, including 11 aces, while turning aside six of seven break points faced. He continued his impressive start to the season, remaining undefeated (8-0) after lifting his fifth ATP World Tour trophy in Brisbane two weeks ago.

The lead changed hands early in the first set, but a break to love for 5-3 gave Dimitrov the decisive advantage. He would escape a 0/40 hole in the next game and eventually closed out the opener on his fourth set point. Dimitrov was off to the races from there, breaking immediately to open the second set and once again in the seventh game to take a commanding two-set lead.

A rifled backhand winner and Gasquet unforced error would hand the 15th seed the lead in the opening game of the third set and he did not look back, securing the victory at exactly 2:00 a.m. on his second match point. The record for latest finish at Melbourne Park is 4:33 a.m., set by Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis in a 2008 third-round thriller.

"Lately I've been struggling with my sleeping and going to bed late, so this is great," Dimitrov joked. "It's my first win on this court so I'm embracing this moment. Thanks to all the fans who stayed here.

"A match like that, it helps me. It helps me to have more confidence, to feel better on the court, more secure in my shots. Just a lot of positives. I take a lot of positives out of that match. The first couple of matches were so-so in my opinion. To be able to come out tonight and step up against a player like Richard, it means a lot to me and gives me good credit. At the same time I just need to focus now, just need to keep the same line, just control what I can."

[ALSO LIKE]

It was Dimitrov's second straight victory over Gasquet, having most recently prevailed at the Shanghai Rolex Masters in October. The Frenchman had previously won their first five FedEx ATP Head2Head encounters from 2011-15.

Dimitrov will feature in the Round of 16 at the Australian Open for the third time in four years. His best finish came in 2014, when he upset Milos Raonic en route to the quarter-finals (l. to Nadal). He will look to match that result with a win over wild card Denis Istomin on Monday. It will be just their second encounter.

Istomin continued his dream run in Melbourne by reaching the second week here for the first time in 11 attempts. Two days after his monumental five-set win over second seed and two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic, the wild card prevailed 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 over Pablo Carreno Busta.

"It was mentally tough because after beating Novak I didn't want to lose three sets in a row, and then everybody saying that I'm was too tired," Istomin said. "I recovered well. I was ready for the match. I think I played good, as well. The conditions were different. The centre court is much slower than that court. So my return wasn't working like with Novak. Carreno Busta is a big server. But in the end I'm happy to win."

Watch Highlights: Istomin Battles Past Carreno Busta

Istomin fired 16 aces and 51 winners throughout the match, but was most impressive with his stamina. He still looked fresh deep in the fifth set while the Spaniard appeared tired from the hours of long baseline rallies. Istomin raced through the final four games of the match, converting his second match point on a backhand error from Carreno Busta.

The 30 year old from Uzbekistan will aim to reach his maiden Grand Slam quarter-final against Dimitrov.

"With Grigor, I think I beat him when he was like 17 in a Challenger," Istomin added. "It was a tough match. But I lost to him in Shanghai [in 2014]. He's been in the Top 10 so I will try to play like I played with Novak and today, and we will see."

Zverev Feeling Positive Despite Loss To Nadal

Sat, 01/21/2017 - 2:50pm

Alexander Zverev had Rafael Nadal on the ropes again. The 19-year-old German led the Spaniard two sets to one on Saturday during their third-round match at the Australian Open.

But for the second time in the past 11 months, Nadal rallied to come back against Zverev, sending the #NextGenATP star home after a 4-6, 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-2 win that lasted more than four hours.

Zverev, however, felt positive about the performance. “Even now I'm disappointed, but I know that this was a great match. That was a great fight. There are a lot of positives in this match. I think he's probably one of the fittest tennis players in the history of the game,” Zverev said. “Obviously I wanted to win. I could have won. It's disappointing. But I'm fine actually.”

Zverev was trying to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time. The 24th seed was also looking to earn his fourth consecutive win against a Top 10 opponent. In September, he beat then-No. 3 Stan Wawrinka and then-No. 9 Tomas Berdych en route to his first ATP World Tour title at the St. Petersburg Open. Two weeks later, Zverev outlasted then-No. 10 Dominic Thiem at the China Open in Beijing.

Read Match Report: Nadal Survives Zverev In Melbourne

Zverev had been even closer to beating Nadal last year at the BNP Paribas Open, the first meeting of their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry. Zverev held a match point against Nadal but eventually fell 6-7(8), 6-0, 7-5 to the left-hander from Mallorca.

“I am close. I kind of showed it a few times last year, and this now,” Zverev said. “We played for over four hours. It was not an easy match. There are a few things here and there I could do better. All in one, I think I'm pretty happy with my performance.”

Reaching the third round is Zverev's best result Down Under. He fell in the first round to Andy Murray last year during his main draw debut. In 2015, Zverev lost in the first round of qualifying.

The 6'6” right-hander figures to be a top contender at another big event this season, the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held 7-11 November in Milan, Italy. The top seven players in the Emirates ATP Race To Milan will qualify; the eighth player will be chosen by wild card.

“I absolutely love tennis. I absolutely love the process. It's exciting for me,” Zverev said. “I think I can see how I'm getting better. I can see how I'm getting better in five sets. It's exciting. I think it's going to be an exciting year for me.”

[ALSO LIKE]

Aussie Duo Lead Third Round Doubles Charge

Sat, 01/21/2017 - 1:34pm

The home nation will be well-represented in the third round of the Australian Open doubles draw, as Sam Groth and Chris Guccione stunned 10th seeds Treat Huey and Max Mirnyi 7-6(10), 7-6(5) on Saturday at Melbourne Park. The unseeded duo, winners of two ATP World Tour titles together, join the Aussie wild card teams of Marc Polmans/Andrew Whittington and Alex Bolt/Bradley Mousley in the Round of 16.

Groth and Guccione needed just under two hours to move on, launching 17 aces, while saving all three break points faced. For Groth, it is the 29 year old's third straight appearance in the doubles Round of 16 at Melbourne Park, having advanced as far with Eric Butorac in 2015 and Lleyton Hewitt last year. The Aussies will face Marcus Daniell and Marcelo Demoliner next, after the Kiwi-Brazilian pair stunned sixth seeds and ATP Finals runners-up Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram 6-1, 7-6(4).

Also advancing to the third round at Melbourne Park were top seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut. The reigning Wimbledon champions made quick work of Jerzy Janowicz and Marcin Matkowski 6-3, 6-2, setting a date with 16th seeds Dominic Inglot and Florin Mergea. Six-time champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, seeded third, also needed just over an hour to prevail on Saturday. The American twins downed Nenad Zimonjic and Mischa Zverev 6-3, 6-2.

Fifth seeds Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez set an all-Spanish third round clash against US Open finalists Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, defeating Jonathan Eysseric and Fabrice Martin 6-4, 6-4. The Spaniards advanced after 73 minutes, converting three of six break chances.

Rounding out the Round of 16 field were seventh seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo, 6-4, 7-6(3) winners over Nicholas Monroe and Artem Sitak, as well as the Colombian power of Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, who rallied past Serbians Dusan Lajovic and Viktor Troicki 2-6, 7-5, 6-0.

Monfils Reaches Round Of 16 At Australian Open 2017

Sat, 01/21/2017 - 12:44pm
Watch highlights of Gael Monfils' third-round victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber at the Australian Open. Video courtesy Tennis Australia.

Istomin Battles Past Carreno Busta In Australian Open 2017

Sat, 01/21/2017 - 12:37pm
Watch highlights of wild card Denis Istomin's five-set win over Pablo Carreno Busta at the Australian Open. Video courtesy Tennis Australia.

Raonic Blasts Into Australian Open 2017 Fourth Round

Sat, 01/21/2017 - 12:30pm
Watch highlights of Milos Raonic's four-set win over Gilles Simon to reach the Australian Open fourth round. Video courtesy Tennis Australia.

Nadal Edges Zverev In Five-Setter At Australian Open 2017

Sat, 01/21/2017 - 12:19pm
Watch highlights of Rafael Nadal's five-set defeat of NextGenATP star Alexander Zverev at the Australian Open. Video courtesy Tennis Australia.

Dimitrov Claims Late-Night Win At Australian Open 2017

Sat, 01/21/2017 - 12:11pm
Watch highlights of Grigor Dimitrov's 2am victory over Richard Gasquet at the Australian Open. Video courtesy Tennis Australia.

Nadal Survives Zverev In Melbourne

Sat, 01/21/2017 - 10:06am

Rafael Nadal survived a marathon third-round battle against Alexander Zverev on Saturday at the Australian Open in Melbourne, coming through with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-2 win on Rod Laver Arena.

"It's obviously an important result for me," said Nadal, who had lost his past three five-set contests in Grand Slam action. "So it's important for me to win a match like this, having been down two sets to one. I'm very happy."

A single break of serve was all that was needed in each of the first two sets. Neither player faced a break point in the third set, ultimately forcing a critical tie-break. Nadal gave the crucial mini-break to Zverev with a forehand error at 5/5, and the German took advantage by hitting a backhand winner on set point to earn a commanding lead.

But Nadal refused to go away. He raced out to a 3-0 lead in the fourth set and appeared to finally wear down Zverev with the long baseline rallies that highlighted the match. The young German hit 12 winners to 16 unforced errors in the fourth set while Nadal shored up his game considerably, holding onto the lead to force a deciding set.

The final stages of the match ultimately came down to fitness, with Zverev appearing to cramp at 2-2 in the fifth set. Sensing his opportunity, Nadal sprinted through the final four games of the match to prevail in four hours and five minutes.

“Even now I'm disappointed, but I know that this was a great match. That was a great fight. There are a lot of positives in this match. I think he's probably one of the fittest tennis players in the history of the game,” Zverev said. “There are a few things here and there I could do better. All in one, I think I'm pretty happy with my performance.”

Nadal improves his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Zverev to 2-0, having last defeated the German at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Indian Wells in 2016, saving a match point.

"It was a tough match," reflected Nadal. "He's a player that has an amazing potential. He is able to produce great shots. He's already one of the best players in the world. He can be even better. He can be fighting for the most important things. So I think he will do it.

"For the confidence, for lot of things, it is very important to win these kind of matches. I worked a lot during all of December to have the chances to compete well in these kind of moments. Even if I started the match with some nerves, I think I was able to came back well.

"Mentally I have been very positive during the whole match. In terms of physical performance, I felt great, ready for run for every ball. In terms of level of tennis, I think I finished the match playing much better than how I started the match. That's a very important thing."

Nadal goes on to face sixth seed Gael Monfils, who recorded a 6-3, 7-6(1), 6-4 victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber in just under two hours. Monfils has dropped only one set in reaching the last 16 and will look to overturn a 2-12 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Nadal when the pair meets on Monday. Monfils’ last victory over Nadal came five years ago in Doha.

Watch Highlights: Monfils Moves Into Round Of 2016

The 30-year-old Monfils is looking to reach a second successive Grand Slam quarter-final, after making the semi-finals at the US Open in New York, where he lost to Novak Djokovic.

Raonic, Thiem March On In Melbourne

Sat, 01/21/2017 - 7:22am

Eighth seed Dominic Thiem withstood a determined Benoit Paire on Saturday at the Australian Open, firing 46 winners to prevail 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in their third-round battle and reach the second week in Melbourne for the first time in his career. 

“He started to play better. Of course I expected it, because it’s normal that he doesn’t continue like [he did] in the first set,” said Thiem. “It was pretty uncomfortable for me, all his drop shots and he was coming up to the net a lot. He knew how to hurt me. It was pretty lucky for me to win these [last] two sets.”

Next up for Thiem is No. 11 seed David Goffin, who wasted no time defeating No. 20 seed Ivo Karlovic, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. “It was almost a perfect match against a guy like Ivo, who is serving bombs all the time. And every time I was on the ball, it was a great return. So I made some good shots, and I was really solid,” Goffin said. “I'm feeling really good, and I'm really happy to win in three sets. Because to have that kind of score against Ivo, it's not every day that you can break him four times.”

Goffin leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Thiem 4-3, which includes a four-set victory over the Austrian in the third round of last year’s Australian Open. “There are not many secrets,” said Thiem. “We are good friends. We’ve had some very important and good matches in the past. I would say both of us have a good chance to reach the quarters.”

[ALSO LIKE]

Thiem raced to a 5-0 lead in the opening set as Paire struggled to find the range on his shots. But the flashy Frenchman regrouped in the second set, hanging tough with Thiem and finally securing his first break in the 10th game to level the match at one set each.

The Austrian rebounded as Paire’s first serve percentage dropped drastically in the third set to just 37 per cent. Thiem stepped in on his returns and took control in more of the baseline rallies to grab the third set. The fourth set was a nervy affair from both players featuring seven breaks of serve, but Thiem hung tough and closed out the victory in two hours and 23 minutes.  

Meanwhile, Goffin was flawless on Hisense Arena, hitting 28 winners to just five unforced errors. Goffin didn’t face a break point all match and broke the big-serving Karlovic four times to wrap up the win in one hour and 27 minutes.

Third seed Milos Raonic was all smiles after an impressive display saw him defeat 25th seed Gilles Simon 6-2, 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3 in the third round. The Canadian advanced in two hours and 34 minutes, striking 21 aces and breaking serve five times from seven opportunities.

Raonic was especially pleased with his performance, considering he had a fever all day on Friday. “I had a bad fever. I didn't come here yesterday. I just slept pretty much all day. Everything was aching,” he said.

The 26-year-old Raonic made his Grand Slam breakthrough at Melbourne Park six years ago, reaching the fourth round as a qualifier. The Toronto native recorded his best run Down Under last year, when he reached the semi-finals (l. to Murray), and would go on to compete in his first major final at Wimbledon (l. to Murray).

“A lot comes from experience and going through a lot of different things over the last few years which you can't sort of cheat or just understand through discussion. I'm just a lot more aware of those things as they happen. I really try to focus on things that are important to me,” Raonic said. “I always try to see, am I the one that is controlling play? Am I behind because I'm not executing or am I behind because I'm letting him be the dictator? That's sort of what I look out for. That was my issue towards the end of that third set and a little gap in the fourth set. But I was able to get that back.”

Next up for Raonic will be No. 13 seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who prevailed in a brutal all-Spanish battle with No. 21 seed David Ferrer, surviving more than four hours of punishing baseline rallies to advance 7-5, 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-4.

Almost nothing separated the two players, with Bautista Agut winning 172 points in the match to Ferrer’s 161. Bautista Agut continues to excel in Melbourne, having also reached the fourth round here in 2014 and 2016.