Tennis

Australian Open | Coco Gauff springs a surprise on Naomi Osaka

Giant killer: Coco Gauff sent defending champion Naomi Osaka packing with a straight-sets victory in 67 minutes.

Giant killer: Coco Gauff sent defending champion Naomi Osaka packing with a straight-sets victory in 67 minutes.  

Serena crashes out against China’s Wang Qiang; Roger Federer survives in a thriller against John Millman.

Serena Williams crashed out, 15-year-old Coco Gauff stunned Naomi Osaka and Roger Federer survived a five-set thriller as the form book went flying out of the window at the Australian Open on Friday.

Men’s title-holder Novak Djokovic eased into the last-16, but elsewhere there were surprises all over Melbourne Park with Serena the biggest victim and Federer fighting back from 4-8 down in a fifth-set tie-break with John Millman.

Slam bid shattered

Serenas’ bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam was shattered by the unlikely figure of China’s Wang Qiang, who triumphed in three tough sets — after winning just one game when they played at the US Open in September.

Gauff then stepped up her giant-killing Melbourne debut as she ousted Japanese defending champion Osaka, 22, in dismissive style, winning 6-3, 6-4 in just 67 minutes to reach round four.

Federer came within a whisker of repeating his 2018 US Open upset by Millman as he was taken to five punishing sets by the tough Australian.

Clawing back

The 20-time Grand Slam champion was facing defeat in the super tie-breaker but he clawed back from 4-8 down to clinch his 100th win at the Australian Open.

“Oh God, it was tough,” said Federer. “Thank God it was a super tie-breaker (10 points), otherwise I would have lost this one.

With Serena now 38, older than Gauff by 23 years, the two players are at opposite ends of their careers.

And with Serenas’ close friend Caroline Wozniacki retiring on Friday, after defeat to Ons Jabeur, it looked like a change of guard in women’s tennis.

Not giving up hope

But Serena, who has now had eight winless Grand Slams since returning from childbirth, said she hadn’t given up hope of matching Margaret Court’s 47-year-old record for Slam titles.

“I definitely do believe (I can equal it) or I wouldn’t be on tour,” said Serena.

Serena was the bookies’ favourite to lift the trophy for the eighth time but she came unstuck against a determined Wang, who won 6-4, 6/7(2), 7-5.

Her defeat came just minutes after Denmark’s Wozniacki was knocked out by Tunisia’s Jabeur, bringing a tearful end to the former World No. 1’s final tournament before retiring.

Barty’s road clear

Serenas’ exit removes a major hurdle for Australia’s World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, 23, who had been on course to meet her in the semifinals.

Barty, bidding to become the first Australian champion since 1978, hit form in a 6-3, 6-2 demolition of Elena Rybakina, saying she had played her best tennis so far this year.

Gauff, who trained with Serena Williams in the off-season, had promised she would be less nervous than in her last meeting with Osaka, when she was thrashed in round three of last year’s US Open.

And so it proved as the teenager broke once in the first set and twice in the second to floor a rattled Osaka and ramp up a rivalry that could run and run.

In the men’s draw, reigning champion Djokovic thrashed Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 to reach the round of 16 at a canter.

Tsitsipas ousted

But Greek sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was also on the receiving end of an upset as he went down in straight sets to Canada’s Milos Raonic, the World No. 35.

Former US Open champion Marin Cilic, 31, outlasted Robert Bautista Agut in five tough sets and Tennys Sandgren, under fire during his last deep run in Melbourne over links to right-wing activists, beat fellow American Sam Querrey in straight sets.

Divij bows out

India’s Divij Sharan and his New Zealand partner Artem Sitak were knocked out of the men’s doubles competition after going down in straight sets to Bruno Soares and Mate Pavic on Friday.

Divij and Sitak lost to the Brazilian-Croat pair 7-6, 6-3 in a second round match that lasted one hour and 17 minutes.

With Divij’s loss, India’s campaign in the men’s doubles ended as Rohan Bopanna had made a first-round exit on Wednesday.

Bopanna is the only Indian left in the fray now and will partner Ukraine’s Nadiia Kichenok in mixed doubles.

The Results

Men: Third round: Tennys Sandgren (USA) bt Sam Querrey (USA) 6-4, 6-4, 6-4; 12-Fabio Fognini (Ita) bt 22-Guido Pella (Arg) 7-6(0), 6-2, 6-3; Marton Fucsovics (Hun) bt Tommy Paul (USA) 6-1, 6-1, 6-4; 3-Roger Federer (Sui) bt John Millman (AUS) 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(8); 32-Milos Raonic (Can) bt 6-Stefanos Tsitsipas (Gre) 7-5, 6-4, 7-6(2); Marin Cilic (Cro) bt 9-Roberto Bautista-Agut (Esp) 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-0, 5-7, 6-3; 14-Diego Schwartzman (Arg) bt 24-Dusan Lajovic (Srb) 6-2, 6-3, 7-6(7); 2-Novak Djokovic (Srb) bt Yoshihito Nishioka (Jpn) 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

Doubles: Second round: 10-Bruno Suares (Bra) & Mate Pavic (Cro) bt Divij Sharan (Ind) & Artem Sitak (NZ) 7-6(2), 6-3.

Women: Third round: 1-Ashleigh Barty (Aus) bt 29-Elena Rybakina (Kaz) 6-3, 6-2; 18-Alison Riske (USA) bt Julia Goerges (Ger) 1-6, 7-6(4), 6-2; 22-Maria Sakkari (Gre) bt 10-Madison Keys (USA) 6-4, 6-4; 7-Petra Kvitova (Cze) bt 25-Ekaterina Alexandrova (Rus) 6-1, 6-2; Cori Gauff (USA) bt 3-Naomi Osaka (Jpn) 6-3, 6-4; 14-Sofia Kenin (USA) bt Shuai Zhang (Chn) 7-5, 7-6(7); Ons Jabeur (Tun) bt Caroline Wozniacki (Den) 7-5, 3-6, 7-5; 27-Qiang Wang (Chn) bt 8-Serena Williams (USA) 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-5.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 2:48:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/australian-open-gauff-springs-a-surprise-on-osaka/article30646664.ece

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