Nadal eases into second round

Rafael Nadal

MELBOURNE,  (Reuters) – World number one Rafa Nadal eased to a second round victory at the Australian Open yesterday while third seed Grigor Dimitrov was made to work hard to reach the third round in a five-set thriller against American Mackenzie McDonald.

Top seed Nadal beat Argentine Leonardo Mayer 6-3 6-4 7-6(4) and will face Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur in the next round while Bulgarian Dimitrov had to dig deep to carve out a 4-6 6-2 6-4 0-6 8-6 victory over unseeded qualifier McDonald.

Caroline Wozniacki staged an impressive comeback from the brink of defeat to earn a victory over Croatia’s Jana Fett and progress to the last 32 of the women’s draw and will be joined by Ukrainian Elina Svitolina and Jelena Ostapenko.

France’s Alize Cornet handed 12th-seed Julia Goerges a surprise defeat to snap the German’s 15-game winning streak and set up a third round clash with Belgian Elise Mertens, who beat 23rd-seed Daria Gavrilova.

Seed slayers Belinda Bencic and Zhang Shuai, who ousted Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens in the opening round, were knocked out by Thai qualifier Luksika Kumkhum and Czech Republic’s Denisa Allertova respectively.

Home favourite Nick Kyrgios, sixth-seeded Marin Cilic and Britain’s Kyle Edmund also sealed progression to the third round of men’s draw.

Belgian Elise Mertens knocked out 23rd-seeded Australian Daria Gavrilova with a 7-5 6-3 win to reach the next stage, where she will face France’s Alize Cornet.

World number three Dimitrov held his nerve in a fiercely-contested five-set thriller against American 186th-ranked qualifier Mackenzie McDonald to win 4-6 6-2 6-4 0-6 8-6 and set up a third round clash against Russian Andrey Rublev.

Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov knocked out Australian Matthew Ebden with a 7-6(0) 6-3 6-4 win to progress to the third round for the first time since 2012.

Russian youngster Andrey Rublev earned a tough 6-4 6-7(7) 6-4 6-2 win over Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus to reach the third round at Melbourne Park for the first time.

Home favourite Nick Kyrgios, seeded 17th, fired 17 aces to see off Serbian Viktor Troicki 7-5 6-4 7-6(2) in the second round. He will next face 15th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

France’s Alize Cornet overcame a 0-5 head-to-head record to beat 12th seed Julia Goerges 6-4 6-3, ending the German’s 15-match winning streak.

French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko fired 35 winners past China’s Duan Yingying, to claim a 6-3 3-6 6-4 victory in the second round.

World number two Caroline Wozniacki roared back from 5-1 down in the final set, saving two match points, to beat Croatian Jana Fett 3-6 6-2 7-5.

“I’m very proud of the way I came back. I just tried to mentally stay focused. It was very hard, and she was playing well,” Wozniacki said after the match.

“All of a sudden seeing myself down, almost out of the tournament, I started playing better and started playing the tennis that I wanted to play.

Sixth seed Marin Cilic hit 40 winners, including 20 aces, on his way to a 6-1 7-5 6-2 second-round victory over Portugal’s Joao Sousa.

Cilic will next face American Ryan Harrison, who beat Uruguay’s 31st seed Pablo Cuevas 6-4 7-6(5) 6-4.

Former Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga came back from 5-2 down in the final set to beat Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov 3-6 6-3 1-6 7-6(4) 7-5 after three hours and 37 minutes of play.

Briton Kyle Edmund, who overcame last year’s U.S. Open finalist Kevin Anderson two days ago, beat Denis Istomin 6-2 6-2 6-4 to reach the third round.

Fourth seed Elina Svitolina came from a set down to beat Czech Katerina Siniakova 4-6 6-2 6-1 and book a spot in the third round.

Ukrainian Svitolina will next face 15-year-old compatriot Marta Kostyuk, who beat Australian wildcard Olivia Rogowska 6-3 7-5. She is the youngest player to reach a grand slam third round since Mirjana Lucic-Baroni at the 1997 U.S. Open.

“I remember being at that age. No pressure. Second round, creating history and all that,” the 26-year-old Rogowska said. “She (Kostyuk) came out firing so credit to her. She’s going to be a really good player.”

Two days after beating Venus Williams in the first round, Swiss Belinda Bencic started flat and never recovered in a 6-1 6-3 defeat by Thai qualifier Luksika Kumkhum.

Pablo Carreno Busta, a U.S. Open semi-finalist last year, is the first player from the men’s field through to the third round after the 10th seed’s opponent, Gilles Simon, retires hurt while trailing 6-2 3-0.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the Russian 15th seed, has been knocked out by Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko in a 6-2 6-3 second round upset on Hisense Arena.

“I am really happy, I don’t really like playing first match but I guess it worked okay today,” said the world number 94.

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