Rafael Nadal has secured the opening set of his match against France’s Adrian Mannarino in thrilling scenes on Rod Laver Arena.
Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev are in action at the Australian Open today before Ash Barty steps on court again later tonight.
The Aussie faces young gun Amanda Anisimova on Rod Laver Arena while everyone’s favourite doubles pairing of Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis play their third-round clash today too.
‘Insane’: Nadal’s thrilling 28-minute tiebreak
Spanish superstar Rafael Nadal has secured the opening set of his fourth round encounter against France’s Adrian Mannarino in thrilling scenes on Rod Laver Arena.
The 20-time grand slam champion won an intense 28-minute tiebreak that featured 30 points, finally getting the job done with his seventh set point.
Nadal celebrated by triumphantly pumping his fists, presumably out of relief more than anything else.
The opening set between Nadal and Mannarino went for 81 minutes — in comparison, Ash Barty only needed 52 minutes to secure a straight sets victory over Lucia Bronzetti in the second round.
Day seven schedule (all times AEDT)
Rod Laver Arena
From 11am: Madison Keys defeated Paula Badosa (8) 6-3 6-1
Barbola Krejcikova (4) defeated Victoria Azarenka (24) 6-2 6-2
Not before 2pm: Adrian Mannarino vs Rafael Nadal (6)
From 7pm: Ash Barty (1) vs Amanda Anisimova
Pablo Carreno Busta (19) vs Matteo Berrettini (7)
Margaret Court Arena
From 11am: Kudermetova/Mertens (3) defeated Xu/Yang (14) 7-6 6-4
Not before 1pm: Jessica Pegula (21) vs Maria Sakkari (5)
Not before 3pm: Alexander Zverev (3) vs Denis Shapovalov (14)
John Cain Arena
Not before 12.30pm: Peers/Polasek (5) defeated Krawietz/Mies (12) 6-1 6-2
Not before 2.30pm: Kubler/O’Connell (WC) vs Puetz/Venus (6)
Not before 6:30pm: Miomir Kecmanovic vs Gael Monfils (17)
Not before 4pm: Kyrgios/Kokkinakis (WC) vs Behar/Escobar (15)
Loophole opens door for Djokovic return
A fresh loophole in France’s Covid-19 protocols could see world No. 1 Novak Djokovic granted an opportunity to defend his Roland Garros title this year, despite not being vaccinated.
Djokovic, who has refused to get the Covid-19 jab, was expected to be stymied by France’s vaccine pass law which was approved by parliament last week.
The “no jab no play” policy meant people need to have a vaccination certificate in order to enter places such as restaurants, cafes, cinemas and long-distance trains.
“The rule is simple. The vaccine pass will be imposed, as soon as the law is promulgated, in establishments that were already subject to the health pass,” the French sports ministry said.
“This will apply to everyone who is a spectator or a professional sportsperson. And this until further notice.”
However, according to recent reports in Europe, France’s vaccination passports will provide exemption to athletes who have contracted the virus in the last six months.
Djokovic tested positive to the deadly virus in December, and the French Open gets underway on May 22, ending in early June.
However, it remains unclear whether Djokovic will be permitted to compete at Wimbledon and or the US Open this year.
Alarming claim about Kyrgios fight threat
Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley made an alarming claim after Nick Kyrgios revealed on Saturday members of his opponents’ entourage threatened to fight him.
The Aussie star was reportedly “accosted” in the locker room after he and Thanasi Kokkinakis stunned top seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic in the second round — with Pavic in particular critical of the way the raucous Aussie crowd behaved during the match.
Asked about the alleged confrontation on Weekend Today, Tiley attempted to play down the incident and said it was “not unusual” when there is so much “passion”.
“There was a lot of passion and a lot of energy in the stadium and I think that carried over beyond the stadium,” Tiley said. “I have spoken to Nick and the team and this is not unusual.
“It’s not uncommon … when you have a situation like this and players are beaten and they are expected to win the match and there’s so much passion from the fans.”
Tiley’s response stunned Weekend Today presenter Charles Croucher. “Don’t doubt the passion, but are you saying it’s not unusual that a coach would threaten a player after a match?” Croucher asked.
Tiley clarified his position, adding: “No. We’ll look closely at that, we’ll continue to look closely at that. As I said I’ve spoken to Nick and Thanasi.
“What’s not unusual and what’s not uncommon is the passion, but certainly there are rules and there’s conditions around how you respond at the end of the match.”
Top 10 seed knocked out
World No. 6 Paule Badose has been knocked out in the fourth round of the Australian Open, suffering a straight sets defeat to American Maddison Keys 6-3 6-1.
Keys, who was ranked No. 87 in the world two weeks ago, dominated the contest on Rod Laver Arena, cruising through to the quarter-finals where she will face either Czech star Barbora Krejcikova or two-time grand slam champion Victoria Azarenka.
It will be Keys’ first hardcourt grand slam quarterfinal since 2018.
“I think I served really well and returned really well and I think I had the advantage in a lot of the points and I thought I was able to dictate and I knew I would have to take my chances and go for it because if I gave her a chance, she would take it,” Keys told Channel 9 post-match.
“My team has been amazing and my coach said he wanted me to enjoy competing and being in the tough moments and embracing those instead of getting panicky in those moments and I’m enjoying playing tennis and being on the court and in front of fans. It is all good.”
Day seven preview
Giant-killer Amanda Anisimova, fresh from knocking out defending champion Naomi Osaka, will have world number one Ash Barty in her sights as the Australian Open hits the last-16 stage today.
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal, who says he is having “a very special week” after coming back from an injury-ravaged 2021, is one win away from the men’s quarter-finals and a potential last-eight showdown with world number three Alexander Zverev.
But the whole of Australia will be watching Barty to see whether she can keep the Melbourne Park party going in search of a maiden triumph to add to her Roland Garros and Wimbledon crowns.
The fearless 20-year-old Anisimova will be out to gatecrash the night-time festivities on Rod Laver Arena by claiming another famous win against Barty, who has only dropped eight games as she inches towards a maiden Grand Slam crown on home soil.
The top seed is now 7-0 for the season after winning the Adelaide warm-up event and in irresistible form. She has not lost her vaunted serve for 57 games over six matches.
Anisimova also sprang an upset with a second-round victory over Tokyo Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic and goes in buoyed by a famous come-from-behind win over Osaka.
Also in action is Victoria Azarenka, the Australian Open champion in 2012 and 2013, who will go up against world number four Barbora Krejcikova after the Belarusian turned back the clock to brush aside 15th seed Elina Svitolina in the third round.
Azarenka, after taking time away to have a baby, is aiming for a first quarter-final since 2016, but the 24th seed is not getting ahead of herself.
Krejcikova, the French Open champion, overcame a big fright against 2017 Roland Garros winner Jelena Ostapenko and then declared her never-say-die attitude meant her rivals should now be afraid of her.
“I hope they are scared of me,” said the 26-year-old, who was one of the standout players of 2021, winning three titles as she soared more than 50 places up the rankings.
Other women’s last-16 matches on Sunday see unseeded American Madison Keys, in form after her win in a Sydney warm-up event, eyeing an upset of eighth seed Paula Badosa of Spain.
And fifth seed Maria Sakkari of Greece faces another American, Jessica Pegula. In the men’s draw, Nadal, who dropped a set for the first time in the tournament before powering past Russia’s Karen Khachanov, faces unseeded Adrian Mannarino.
The Frenchman will need to recover from a 4hr 38m marathon third-round 7-6 (7/4) 6-7 (4/7) 7-5 6-4 win against Russia’s Aslan Karatsev that did not finish until 2:32am on Saturday.
The winner will face either Olympic champion Zverev, yet to drop a set, or 14th seed Denis Shapovalov of Canada in a signature quarter-final on Tuesday.
Other men in action include Italian seventh seed Matteo Berrettini against Spanish 19th seed Pablo Carreno Busta.
Flamboyant 17th seed Gael Monfils, unbeaten this year after winning a warm-up event in Adelaide, is yet to drop a set and comes up against Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic.
The ageless 35-year-old Frenchman is targeting a second quarter-final appearance at Melbourne Park and the first for six years.