We're now halfway through Round 3 at the Australian Open, and Friday's matches brought us some genuine thrillers along with the elimination of the first genuinely big name of the tournament. We're starting to see how the later rounds will take shape, and the level of tennis is incredibly high. Here's everything you need to know about Day 5.
Naomi Osaka falls to Amanda Anisimova
Naomi Osaka, the defending Aussie Open champ who is also on the comeback trail, saw her journey in Melbourne end on Friday with a thrilling loss to unseeded Amanda Anisimova. Osaka, seeded 13th, came out strong but lost the second set, which led to a fantastic tiebreaker in the third set. Anisimova won 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5).
The 20-year-old Anisimova may be unseeded, but she's an up-and-coming talent who looks to be primed and ready to break through the thickly talented women's field this year. Osaka said she'd been looking forward to facing her, and the two played fiery, competitive tennis to the very end.
Though the loss was disappointing, Osaka was in good spirits in her post-match news conference, which was notable considering her past comments on how uncomfortable they can make her. She recognized that she still has some work to do to get her tennis back to the level it was a year ago, but she saw her experience in Melbourne as largely positive.
“I know there are days I’m going to have bad days and days I’m going to have great days,” Osaka said. “It’s always random, and I never know. But no matter what happens for me, I know I want to leave the court knowing that I’ve fought for every point. Today there were things I thought I could improve in, but even with that I had two match points and even with that it is something I can be proud of myself for.”
"I’m proud of myself for this. This for me is the biggest step, even though I lost.”
Ash Barty, Rafael Nadal power to Round 4
Ashleigh Barty, the No. 1 player in the world, looks ready to make it all the way to the end. She easily dispatched Camila Giorgi, taking the match 6-2, 6-3 in just 61 minutes. And as she always does, she made it look easy.
This win was supposed to set up an epic match between Osaka and Barty, but with Osaka falling to Anisimova, we'll get to see what the unseeded American can bring against the best female player in the world.
Rafael Nadal unleashed a classic performance against Karen Khachanov, showing not just power but resilience in the 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 win. Even with a dip in the third set, Nadal looked just about as good as he did at last year's French Open, which essentially means everyone he faces should brace for impact. He was whizzing around the court, returning impossible shots and making everyone remember why he's one of the best to ever play the game.
Monfils, Sakkari, Krejcikova move on as field continues to shrink
Gael Monfils is on an absolute tear. He's been slicing through the competition (so to speak), and is now on to Round 4 after another exceptional showing. After a very competitive first set, the 17th-seeded Monfils had no trouble handling the rest of the match, beating No. 16 Cristian Garin 7-6(4), 6-1, 6-3.
Things seemed to be going badly for fifth-seeded Maria Sakkari at the start of her match against No. 28 Viktoria Kudermetova. Down 3-1 in the first set, she seemed off balance, but quickly found her stride. She came back to win the first set 6-4 and then rode that wave to a 6-1 win in the second set, giving her the match in front of an increasing number very supportive of Greek Australians.
Barbora Krejcikova, the No. 4 seed and surprise 2021 French Open champion, was also in trouble early against Jelena Ostapenko. She lost the first set and was down 3-1 in the second set before she got herself together and started fighting back with fury. Even then it remained a battle, but Krejcikova emerged victorious with a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 win.
In all, there were just two unexpected upsets on the day: Osaka's loss to Anisimova, and No. 15 Elina Svitolina's loss to No. 24 Victoria Azarenka. Matteo Berrettini, Paula Badosa, Denis Shapovalov, Jessica Pegula, and Alexander Zverev all advanced to Round 4.