Australian Open Day Four Journal and Results: Major upsets and hilarious quotes

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Serena Williams glides on. (Creative Commons)

What a day! Featuring brilliant quotes and massive upsets, here’s my commentary and all the key results from Day Four at the Australian Open.

Nick Kyrgios’ exit was nothing on this.

ROD LAVER ARENA

Johanna Konta [9] d. Naomi Osaka   6-4 6-2

I was never seriously considering Brisbane champion Konta as a title contender. But Osaka was supposed to be a big threat, and she rather swatted her aside. Plus, Patrick Mouratoglou – coach of Serena – named her and Pliskova as the draw’s biggest threats, which counts for a lot in my book.

Caroline Wozniacki [17] d. Donna Vekic   6-1 6-3

This one was over before it began. Wozniacki should hope that a virtual walkover in round two helps rather than hinders her, because there really wasn’t anything she could do about it.

Denis Istomin [WC] d. Novak Djokovic [2]   7-6(8) 5-7 2-6 7-6(5) 6-4

Honestly, I’m still not really over the shock. Even when Djokovic had beaten Andy Murray in the Doha final a week and a half ago, he had not returned to the peak mental and physical form that proved near-unbeatable for over two years. Still, a second round loss at the major tournament he dominates – to a wild card entry ranked world no. 117, and a man who went out in the first round while seeking to defend his Nottingham title last year – is a shock and a half. Whatever his recent struggles, Djokovic entered Melbourne as the strong favourite for victory.

It’s probably still a struggle for me to take the loss in because I didn’t see a single point of the match. I didn’t see how well Istomin played – although I have Nole’s word for it that the Uzbekistanian played well and himself, not that well. The statistics are close in every category, which is reflected in the final scoreline.

But one thing I do know. And that is this: It’s not a question as to what is wrong with Novak Djokovic. Rather, it is a question of how he managed to be so ridiculously dominant – and devoid of any result resembling this one – in the first place.

Rafael Nadal spoke along these lines in his post match press conference, before coming out with one of Wednesday’s QUOTES OF THE DAY. In the midst of praise for what Djokovic has accomplished at this tournament in the past, the former champion offered:

“Today was probably an accident.”

(Probably was, Rafa.)

Still, Djokovic’s own contribution to QUOTES OF THE DAY may beat Nadal’s entry…

 

Q: What do you take from that match?

DJOKOVIC: I take my bags, and I go home.

Serena Williams [2] d. Lucie Safarova 6-4 6-3

One tournament-favourite no. 2 seed may have been eliminated, but the other is looking sharp. That’s two rounds for Serena Williams that should have been ‘tough’, and yet she marched through them both in straight sets. Safarova reportedly brought a great standard of tennis to the contest – her first against Serena since their three-set French Open final in 2015. But it seems that the 22-time Grand Slam champion believes it was she who won, and not Safarova who lost, this match.

As she contributes to QUOTES OF THE DAY:

Question (or rather, statement): Looked a little bit of a scrappy performance. A few more unforced errors, a few double-faults.
SERENA: I think that’s a very negative thing to say. Are you serious?

Q: Just my observation.
SERENA: Well, you should have been out there. That wasn’t very kind. You should apologize. Do you want to apologize?

Q: I do. I’m sorry.
SERENA: Thank you very much.

MARGARET COURT ARENA

Karolina Pliskova [5] d. Anna Blinkova 6-0 6-2

Her opponent may have been the world no. 189, but Pliskova still seems to have gone from Slam discomfort to Slam contender since the start of the US Open. The Czech’s first matched lasted exactly one hour, and her second knocked a minute off that total. Nevertheless, Pliskova is yet to play a woman ranked inside the top 100 – which will change when she faces Jelena Ostapenko.

Dominika Cibulkova [6] d. Su-Wei Hsieh 6-4 7-6(8)

Chinese Taipei’s Hsieh has done little to nothing outside of doubles for some time. Cibulkova will meet a much stiffer test in no. 30 seed Ekaterina Makarova – who has caused severe damage in Melbourne before.

Milos Raonic [3] d. Gilles Muller 6-3 6-4 7-6(4)

Big-serving Muller touched the hearts of many worldwide when – after five of five losses in ATP finals – he finally struck gold in Sydney at the age of 33. Alas, Raonic had the lethal game behind the big serve that was just too much to deal with. The Canadian – who is now the highest-ranked man remaining in his half of the Australian Open draw – next faces no. 25 seed Gilles Simon, who took eventual champion Djokovic the distance here last January.

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni d. Agnieszka Radwanska [3] 6-3 6-2

Amidst all the shock surrounding Novak Djokovic, you would have been forgiven for totally missing Radwanska’s exit – even though it was something of a thrashing. A 2016 semifinalist she may have been, but the Pole is forever going to be at the mercy of those women who can crack down on every shot and channel their aggression. Lucic-Baroni has had experience in pulling off these Slam upsets, and the tour veteran hit 33 winners during her one hour two minute dismissal of Radwanska. That’s no fluke.

Dominic Thiem [8] d. Jordan Thompson 6-2 6-1 6-7(6) 6-4

Thiem awoke from his three month long slumber to complete what would usually be a straight sets thrashing over the most in-form Aussie of the moment. Then he suddenly remembered that Djokovic’s exit left his quarter wide open, and he dropped the tiebreak in a bundle of nerves before collecting himself to close it out.

Well. It MIGHT have gone like that. But one thing is certain: If he wants to stop Grigor Dimitrov from pouncing on this opportunity, the Austrian cannot afford even the smallest of lapses.

HISENSE ARENA

Ekaterina Makarova [30] d. Sara Errani 6-2 3-2 (retired)

Once a Grand Slam champion, struggling Errani’s ranking could freefall pretty soon. She has a Premier title to defend next month.

Grigor Dimitrov [15] d. Hyeon Chung 1-6 6-4 6-4 6-4

Rather surprising that the Bulgarian dropped the first set so easily to one of the leading teens of 2015. Now 20, South Korea’s Chung looks to be turning the corner after doubling back a little on the road to the elite. Ultimately a good win for Dimitrov, and time will tell whether the gaping hole once filled by Djokovic makes or breaks him in this quarter.

I suspect the former…

Gael Monfils [6] d. Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3 6-4 0-6 6-1

Monfils doing his best to show me up here, which means he will probably go and win the whole things now. If he can get past no. 32 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber, he will face the winner of Nadal versus Zverev.

Daria Gavrilova [22] d. Ana Konjuh 6-2 1-6 6-4

Personally, I see Konjuh as the more talented, powerful and promising of these two stocky threats. Which makes this a great win for home player Gavrilova.

ALSO NOTEWORTHY

Richard Gasquet [18] d. Carlos Berloq 6-1 6-1 6-1

How thrashing – I mean, smashing! Mr Dimitrov could face a test here.

Alexander Zverev [24] d. Frances Tiafoe 6-2 6-3 6-4

Zverev took a possible blockbuster between two up-and-coming stars, and turned it into the “I’m The Best Teenager On Tour Show”. He’ll go from Show Court 2 to a probable showing on Rod Laver Arena when he takes on Nadal, aiming to avenge the Indian Wells defeat in which he held a match point.

His opponent should be praying for a night match. The ball would hang much heavier, and therefore favour his game. An early afternoon match, however, could make a zoning Zverev unplayable.

David Goffin [11] d. Radek Stepanek 6-4 6-0 6-3

Goffin is doing things under the radar. Stepanek is often a deceptively tough opponent, and Goffin is now a member of one of the most open sections of the draw (you guessed it – the Djokovic quarter.) The Belgian has the one and only Ivo Karlovic in round three.

Benoit Paire d. Fabio Fognini 7-6(3) 4-6 6-3 3-6 6-3

Paire completed a five set victory in three and a half hours – and his celebratory QUOTE OF THE DAY was:

“I’m so happy. I didn’t get any warning!”

Which is the more impressive achievement: His, or Denis Istomin’s?

David Ferrer [21] d. Ernesto Escobedo 2-6 6-4 6-4 6-2

I never considered being surprised at Ferrer’s presence in a Grand Slam third round. Good on the Spaniard.

Maria Sakkari d. Alize Cornet [28] 7-5 4-6 6-1

I want to pump my fist and say: “Called it!” But that would be arrogant. So I won’t.

But in all seriousness, keep your eye on Sakkari – who could not believe she had reached her maiden Slam third round. The 21-year-old could yet go further as she takes on Lucic-Baroni in the last 16 – with her draw heralding a strong opportunity for a quarter-final showing.

Jelena Ostapenko d. Yulia Putintseva [31] 6-3 6-1

A much-anticipated showdown between two of the most feisty players on tour ended in one hour 12 minutes, with Ostapenko hitting 28 winners. Anti-climatic, but it leaves the Latvian fresh for a shot at Pliskova.

*

Thanks for reading! Did I miss anything important from Day Four? What was your personal highlight/lowlight? Sound off in the comments section!

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