MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Latest on Friday at the Australian Open (all times local):
Marin Cilic, last year’s runner-up at the Australian Open, has forced a fifth set in his third-round match against Fernando Verdasco, who wasted two match points.
Verdasco, a lefty from Spain seeded 26th, took the first two sets 6-4, 6-3, before 2014 U.S. Open champion Cilic pulled even by taking the next two 6-1, 7-6 (8).
The sixth-seeded Cilic erased Verdasco’s first match point, at 7-6 in the tiebreaker, with a service winner. Verdasco’s second opportunity to end it came at 8-7, but he double-faulted.
Verdasco is trying to get to the fourth round at Melbourne Park for the first time since 2011. His best showing at a major was a 2009 semifinal appearance in Australia.
Second-seeded Angelique Kerber celebrated her birthday by dropping just one game against 240th-ranked wild-card entry Kimberly Birrell at the Australian Open.
Kerber, who won Grand Slam titles in Australia and the U.S. Open in 2016 and at Wimbledon last year, beat Birrell 6-1, 6-0 on the day she turned 31.
“I always enjoy my birthday here. I think it’s the 12th time in a row,” Kerber said. “I’ll never forget the birthdays here in Australia.”
The crowd sang “Happy Birthday” as she left the court.
Kerber moved into a fourth-round match against American Danielle Collins, who beat No. 19 Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-2.
If Frances Tiafoe keeps on winning matches at the Australian Open, he’ll keep on channeling LeBron James.
Tiafoe, who grew up in Maryland, paid homage to James by copying the four-time NBA MVP’s “Silencer” — raising his knees and pushing his palm-down hands toward the ground after beating Italy’s Andreas Seppi in five sets. Oh, and Tiafoe had yanked off his shirt before doing that move.
And why not? He reached the fourth round at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time.
After his previous victory, a second-round upset of two-time major finalist Kevin Anderson, Tiafoe mimicked another LBJ celebration by flexing his right biceps and slapping it five times with his left hand.
“Be interesting to see if (other players) want to try them. Just trying to bring something to tennis,” said Tiafoe, who turns 21 on Sunday.
He said his post-match choreography is not premeditated. It just sort of happens.
“If I get a chance to do it on a big court, big situation, you’ve got to bring it up,” he said. “I don’t know what celebration I’m going to do. I got a lot of them that I know.”
Chair umpire Carlos Ramos gave Rafael Nadal a gentle reminder late in the Spanish left-hander’s win over Alex de Minaur at Melbourne Park that he’s still the man in charge.
Ramos, who was also in the chair for Serena Williams’ U.S. Open final loss to Naomi Osaka last year, gave Nadal a time warning on his sixth match point on Friday night on Rod Laver Arena.
At the French Open in 2017, Ramos also gave Nadal a warning over the time it took him between games and to serve.
Rafael Nadal has 19-year-old Australian Alex de Minaur’s number — or numbers, really, and they are 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.
Nadal’s victory over de Minaur in the third round of the Australian Open came by that score, as did the 17-major champion’s win when the two met at Wimbledon last year.
De Minaur came into the Australian Open on a high having won the Sydney International last week but was outclassed by Nadal, who will play Tomas Berdych in the fourth round.
It was Nadal’s third match in a row against an Australian, having beaten James Duckworth and Matthew Ebden in the first two rounds.
“Even playing against an Australian like Alex, I feel like the crowd — some part of the crowd — is with me,” said Nadal, the 2009 Australian Open champion.
Danielle Collins has beaten No. 19-seeded Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-2 at the Australian Open to reach the fourth round of a major for the first time.
The 25-year-old American, who opened with an upset win over No. 14 Julia Goerges, had never previously won a main-draw match in five previous Grand Slam tournaments.
Against Garcia, she converted four of her five break points and was only broken once.
Her next match is against either No. 2 Angelique Kerber, the 2016 Australian champion, or 240th-ranked Kimberly Birrell, the Australian wild-card entry who ousted No. 29 Donna Vekic in the second round.
There was a cheeky moment during the first set of Roger Federer’s match against Taylor Fritz at Rod Laver Arena when the cameras panned to the 20-time major winner’s box and found one of his twin sons poking his finger into the air-inflated right cheek of coach Ivan Ljubicic .
“I did not even know he was going to come to the stadium,” Federer said about his son, Lenny.
“So when I peeked over, and he was sitting there, I was like, ‘OK, wow, we have a special guest — for me, anyhow.’”
Federer said “back in the day,” he played in front of his parents, then friends, famous people, and now it has gone full circle.
He appreciated how Ljubicic handled the potential distraction.
“Very serious,” Federer said, laughing, “I love that.”
“In the end, it’s back to basics … playing in front of your family. That’s why I’m happy Lenny was there.”
Frances Tiafoe has advanced to the fourth round at Melbourne Park, his first appearance in the round of 16 at any Grand Slam.
The 20-year-old American beat 34-year-old Andreas Seppi 6-7 (3), 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Court 3, where matches began 2 1-2 hours late because of morning rain.
The No. 39-ranked Tiafoe beat fifth-seeded Kevin Anderson in four sets in the second round, and followed it up with a biceps-slapping celebration that drew plenty of attention.
He will next play 20th-seeded Grigor Dimitrov, who beat Thomas Fabbiano 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-4.
Sloane Stephens survived two tiebreakers to beat No. 31-seeded Petra Martic 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5) and advance to the fourth round at Melbourne Park.
The fifth-seeded Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, will next play Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-0, 6-3.
Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki is out of the Australian Open after losing 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 to Maria Sharapova in the third round.
Sharapova broke Wozniacki’s serve in the seventh game of the third set with a forehand to the open corner, then dropped both arms and screamed in delight.
She held serve in the next game to lead 5-3, then broke Wozniacki’s service again in the last game, clinching the match on her second match point when Wozniacki’s backhand return went wide.
Five-time major winner Sharapova, the 2008 Australian Open winner, will play Australia’s Ash Barty in the fourth round.
Nick Kyrgios’ form on court has slumped and he’s been part of an ongoing controversy swirling in Australian men’s tennis . But he has a fan in Roger Federer.
Kyrgios was beaten in straight sets by Milos Raonic in the first round, then lost in doubles. So on Friday he was in the telecast booth during Federer’s win over American Taylor Fritz.
The 23-year-old Kyrgios has been linked with Twitter comments critical of Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt and other coaches, and gained more traction on social media for his analysis of the Federer match.
Federer says Kyrgios is “always good for a headline.”
“Look, I like Nick,” Federer said after his win over Fritz. “I like the way he plays and all that.
“I was happy to hear that he was in the commentary booth. He’s got a bit of time, sticks around, shows he’s passionate about the game. That’s what we need to see. But we wish he was on the court rather than a commentary booth.”
Amanda Anisimova has beaten 11th-seeded Aryna Sabalenka 6-3, 6-2 to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open.
The 17-year-old American is the youngest player still in contention in the women’s draw at Melbourne Park and has dropped just seven games against seeded players in the last two rounds. She broke Sabalenka’s serve four times in the 65-minute match and fended off the only break point she faced.
Anisimova, who beat No. 24 Lesia Tsurenko 6-0, 6-2 in the second round, had never won a match in a major. She had first-round exits in her two previous main-draw appearances.
Sabalenka won the title at Shenzhen to start the season and reached the fourth round at last year’s U.S. Open.
Play is finally underway on the outdoor courts at Melbourne Park — about 2 1/2 hours late because of heavy morning rain.
While play began on time at the three main show courts — Roger Federer, Ashleigh Barty and Stafanos Tsitsipas were early winners there— the rain left many of the outdoor courts flooded with water.
Skies were still cloudy and a threat of rain remained through the afternoon.
Federer ensured his 100th match on Rod Laver was over quickly, and raised his racket to acknowledge the crowd.
The six-time champion conceded only three points on his first serve in a 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 win over 21-year-old American Taylor Fritz, who was bidding to reach the fourth round at a major for the first time.
Federer is into the Round of 16 at a Grand Slam event for the 63rd time.
“I think I wanted to get out of the blocks quickly. I knew of the threat of Taylor,” Federer said. “I think I had extra focus today.”
He will next play Stefanos Tsitsipas, who had a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-4 win over Nikoloz Basilashvili to become the first Greek man to reach the fourth round at multiple majors.
Stefanos Tsitsipas is through to the fourth round at Melbourne Park with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-4 win over Nikoloz Basilashvili.
Tsitsipas broke the Georgian player’s serve to take a 4-3 lead, then had a match point on Basilashvili’s serve at 5-3. He served out the match in the next game, winning when Basilashvili hit a forehand into the net.
Tsitsipas is the first Greek man to reach the round of 16 at two tennis majors. Next he will face either defending champion Roger Federer or American Taylor Fritz.
Tsitsipas received a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct from chair umpire Alexandra Robein when he became angry after having his service broken while serving for the third set at 5-4. While serving for the first set, he had to stop because of a screaming infant in the Margaret Court Arena crowd.
Rain and wet courts continued to delay the start of play on all the outside courts. Play went ahead on the three main show courts with the stadium roofs closed.
Local favorite Ashleigh Barty has become the first player through to the fourth round at Melbourne Park with a 7-5, 6-1 win over Maria Sakkari at Rod Laver Arena.
Barty received treatment for an apparent stomach muscle ailment at the end of the first set but appeared not to be affected for the rest of the 82-minute match.
Barty will play either Maria Sharapova or defending champion Caroline Wozniacki in the next round. They play their third-round match later Friday at Rod Laver Arena, with defending men’s champion Roger Federer’s match against American Taylor Fritz in between.
Rain forced a continuing delay to the start of matches on outside courts. The roofs on all three main arenas were closed.
Greek stars Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari featured on two of the three main show courts at Melbourne Park as rain delayed the start of play on outside courts.
It’s the first time a Greek man and woman have advanced to the third round at the same Grand Slam tournament since 1936.
At Rod Laver Arena, Sakkari lost the first set to Ashleigh Barty 7-5 and the Australian received treatment for an apparent stomach muscle issue at the end of the first set. A group of young men in blue t-shirts were vocal supporters of Sakkari, chanting Greek songs that echoed around the closed-roof arena.
Over at adjoining Margaret Court Arena, Tsitsipas took the opening set 6-3 against Nikoloz Basilashvili but the Georgian player won the second by the same score.
Tsitsipas was having to deal with an inconsistent ball toss, a bird trapped inside the arena that frequently swooped low over the court and a chair umpire that mispronounced his name.
One Greek fan frequently began a slow clap just before Tsitsipas’ serves and yelled “go go go.” With the Greek player trailing 3-0 in the second set, moral support appeared to be on the way: Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams’ coach, came down the stairs and headed to his player’s box. Tsitsipas trains at the Mouratoglou Academy in France.
Caroline Wozniacki will have her most daunting challenge in defense of her Australian Open women’s singles title when she takes on five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova in the third round at Melbourne Park on Friday.
The two haven’t played since 2015 when Sharapova finished the year ranked fourth and Wozniacki was 17th. Now Wozniacki is seeded third here and Sharapova is 30th.
The match preceding that one on Rod Laver Arena will see defending men’s singles champion Roger Federer take on American Fritz Taylor. Rafael Nadal opens night play on the same court against Australian Alex de Minaur, followed by 2016 champion Angelique Kerber’s match against Australian wild-card entry Kimberly Birrell.
Morning rain showers meant the roofs at all three main show courts were closed and the start of play was delayed on outside courts.
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