Serena, Osaka advance; Thiem beats Kyrgios

Melbourne, Feb 12: As news broke on Friday that Melbourne would head into a snap lockdown to contain an outbreak of COVID-19, Serena Williams was already on court at the Australian Open playing potentially her last match in front of crowds at the tournament.
It was a distraction neither Williams nor her opponent Anastasia Potapova would have wanted before their third round match at a Grand Slam that has been on high alert since it started on Monday. Williams completed a 7-6(5), 6-2 win in the sunshine at Rod Laver Arena then gushed about her daughter Olympia learning tennis in the on-court interview, drawing cheers from fans. “Actually, I didn’t know at all until the match was over. I think it’s good that I didn’t know,” Williams later told reporters. “It’s rough. It’s going to be a rough few days for I think everyone. But we’ll hopefully get through it.”
The tournament will go on but Williams’s bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title will proceed without fans in the terraces for at least five days from Saturday.
Naomi Osaka swept into the fourth round of the Australian Open on Friday with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Ons Jabeur in front of one of the last crowds allowed before Melbourne Park goes into lockdown.
The Japanese third seed pounded down eight aces as she dominated her first career contest against the Tunisian world number 30 to set up a meeting with Spain’s twice Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza.
“Thanks for coming out, it’s so great to play in front you,” Osaka said to the crowd on John Cain Arena before asking for, and receiving, a rendition of the local sporting chant “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi! Oi! Oi!”.
Dominic Thiem produced a comeback for the ages to overhaul a fired-up Nick Kyrgios in a five-set classic at the Australian Open and send a baying crowd home in disappointment on the last night before a five-day lockdown in Melbourne.
In the bearpit atmosphere of Kyrgios’s favourite John Cain Arena, US Open champion Thiem dragged himself off the canvas in a thrilling 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over the Australian showman to reach the fourth round.
The Austrian third seed was shellshocked for the first two sets, barely able to lay a glove on Kyrgios, who channelled the crowd’s energy to produce some electrifying tennis.

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