Wednesday, 20 February, 2019

Alexander Zverev scrapes into Australian Open third round

Kei Nishikori outlasted Croatia's Ivo Karlovic in Melbourne Kei Nishikori outlasted Croatia's Ivo Karlovic in Melbourne
Cassandra Castillo | 19 January, 2019, 09:02

Kei Nishikori survived a huge scare in the Australian Open second round, battling past Ivo Karlovic in a marathon five-setter on Thursday.

The 31-year-old Serb now shares the record of six Australian Open men's singles titles with Roy Emerson and Roger Federer.

Nishikori isn't making it easy on himself so far this tournament after losing the first two sets of his first-round contest and then allowing Karlovic to get back into this match.

The pair traded games again in the third set, but Karlovic, 10 years Nishikori's senior, broke the eighth seed's serve to go up 6-5, and served out the set.

Nishikori will play German Philipp Kohlschreiber or Portugal's Joao Sousa in the third round on Saturday.

"I focused well on the last points, I'm very happy to win today", said Nishikori, who lost the U.S. Open final in 2014 - his best performance in a Slam to date.

The Japanese fans were still in place after the break to watch U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka advance with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Tamara Zidansek.

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After trailing 4-1 in the 10-point tiebreaker - a new addition at the Australian Open this year _ and then taking a 7-6 lead thanks to a video replay review at 6-6 - Karlovic was closing in becoming the oldest man since Ken Rosewall in 1978 to reach the third round at the Australian Open. "But I will try to be more positive for the next round and hopefully, I can play better".

"Fourth set was really tough I lost four easy games".

The 6-foot-11 Karlovic - who holds the Australian Open record of 75 aces in a match - got to six aces in a row at the end of the fourth set.

He arrived at Melbourne Park past year having taken off the previous six months to rest his injured elbow and went on to lose in the fourth round, after which he underwent surgery.

Eleven years ago, Djokovic's victory over Tsonga gave the Serb the first of his 14 Grand Slam titles, a total that is tied for third most for a man. The Croatian player had an edge in the round with a 7-6 lead.

She anticipated a tough test against Hsieh, who she defeated in their only previous meeting. "She does everything well, and I really like that she doesn't quit", she said.

The 22-year-old, who was the 2017 ATP NextGen Finals champion, is now ranked 25 but will plummet when the new rankings are announced post-Melbourne and his points from last year drop off his record.

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