After an emotional third round, Ash Barty is the only Australian left chasing a singles’ title.
Following the first week of the tournament, The Inner Sanctum is back with another recap on the third round of the Australian Open.
As the only Australian playing singles on day five plenty of attention was on Nick Kyrgios’ clash with third seed Dominic Thiem.
With an impending lockdown hanging over the evening, the boisterous crowd once again tried to will the Australian home.
Playing on John Cain Arena, Kyrgios looked to be in his element, convincingly winning the first two sets, going up a break early in each.
It wasn’t until Thiem managed to fight off a first game break in the third set that the Austrian looked to settle and find his own rhythm. The Austrian took control in the third and fourth sets, losing just seven points off of his own serve across the two sets. Whilst Krygios seemed to be rattled by the shift in momentum and was driven to distraction by the enthusiastic crowd.
At the beginning of the fifth set, Kyrgios managed to turn it back on, serving two consecutive 40-0 games. Points were hard to come by for both Kyrgios and Thiem off serve and the fifth set was looking like it would go to a match tiebreak.
It wasn’t until the seventh game that Thiem managed to break Kyrgios’ serve. In the final game, Kyrgios attempted to fight back but a forced error, followed by a Thiem’s old faithful, the one-handed backhand, managed to be enough for Thiem to come back from behind and progress onto the fourth round.
Australia’s attention was on Ash Barty taking on Ekaterina Alexandrova, and Alex de Minaur facing Fabio Fognini in a doubleheader at Margaret Court Arena during the night session of day six at the Australian Open.
Barty kicked the evening off with her third-round matchup against 29th seed, Ekaterina Alexandrova. After going down a break in the first game, nerves were high with Australian’s willing Barty from home to perform at her best.
It didn’t take long for the world number one to prove that she wasn’t bothered by the bandage on her upper thigh managing to win six consecutive games after losing the first two.
Between the sets, Alexandrova took a medical time out due to abdomen issues before returning to the court. She came backfiring in the second set once again going a break up and looking like she would take Barty to a third set.
However, Barty’s slice backhand proved to be too good for Alexandrova, who couldn’t seem to find an answer to the shot. Barty claimed the next four games to close out the match, taking her into the fourth round where she will meet American Shelby Rogers.
From the outset, Alex de Minaur was up against a challenge against the 16th seed, Fabio Fognini. Both players took points early from the other’s service game and seemed to be settling into a comfortable rhythm.
It wasn’t until the eighth game that Fognini went up a break, only for De Minaur to immediately break back in a 0-40 game. Fognini managed to finish the set off one game later, however, breaking De Minaur’s serve once more in a seven-minute game.
De Minaur came into the second set looking unaffected from losing the first, taking Fognini to break point in the first game, however, the Italian managed to see off the break point and claim the first game.
Despite holding serve for a majority of the second set, De Minaur’s errors began to climb which eventually resulted in him going down a break midway through the second set and was forced to fight off another break point later in the set.
Fognini began the third set by immediately going up a break, taking control of the match, Breaking the Australian’s serve again in the fifth game of the set. It was looking like Fognini was going to comfortably take out the match in straight sets.
De Minaur tried to fight back, however, forcing Fognini into longer service games before finally taking back a break bringing the set back to 5-4. In the following game, he retained his serve, leaving Fognini to serve out the match.
Fodnini will have to face the number two seed, Rafael Nadal in the fourth round, following the Spaniard’s straight-sets win over Cameron Norrie.
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