Sport Tennis Australian Open: Kerber’s ‘tough battle’ ends with fourth round spot

Australian Open: Kerber’s ‘tough battle’ ends with fourth round spot

Made it: Angelique Kerber after beating Italian Camila Giorgi to make the fourth round. Photo: AAP
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Angelique Kerber says she’s looking to a day off after winning through to the fourth round of the Australian Open after a  6-3 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 win over Italian Camila Giorgi on Saturday.

It is the sixth time in eight years that the 2016 champion has made it through to second week of the tournament.

Kerber was disappointed she could not close out the match in the second-set tiebreaker, but was thrilled to prevail after more than two hours of baseline grind.

“It was a tough battle,” said the former world No.1.

“She really hits the ball fast and deep. So I was just trying to (keep) moving good, especially at the end of the third set.

“It’s great to be in the second week in Melbourne again. It’s still a long way. I have to get ready for the next one.

“To be ready to be fighting … have a good day off tomorrow and then looking forward to playing my best tennis again.”

Seeded 17, Kerber will play Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on Monday for a quarter-final berth.

Continuing the upsets in the women’s draw world No.2 Karolina Pliskova and sixth seed Belinda Bencic both crashed out.

Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova snapped a run of six straight defeats to Pliskova to end the big-serving Czech’s campaign with a shock 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-3) win on Rod Laver Arena.

Bencic then bombed out in a 6-0 6-1 capitulation at the hands of Estonai’s Anett Kontaveit as Ashleigh Barty’s title hopes continue to soar.

Pliskova was previously unbeaten in 2020, having won the season-opening Brisbane International and then two more matches in Melbourne.

But the second seed never looked comfortable in the hotter conditions on Saturday, throwing her racquet in disgust at one changeover and generally labouring about the court throughout the two-hour, 25-minute encounter.

Twice previously a quarter-finalist in Melbourne, including last year, Pavlyuchenkova’s victory was her 33rd over a top-10 rival – but her first against Pliskova.

“I am really happy,” the tournament’s 30th seed said. “I know we always say we want to enjoy, but I did enjoy. I had goosebumps after some points.

“It was really nice to get a win and beat Karolina for the first time, it was amazing. Honestly, I was trying to think ‘OK, if I take at least one or two games on her serve it would be amazing’, because she serves so good.

“She is the ace-queen on tour. That was my goal – to return well today.”

Millman rues the lost chances

After Friday night’s epic five-set battle against Roger Federer, Australia’s John Millman says he gave it his all as he fell heart-breakingly short of an Australian Open boilover.

Millman and the six-time champion played for more than four hours with the Swiss maestro finally nailing a 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 4-6 7-6 (10-8) win.

The Queensland veteran had the world No.3 on the ropes – up 8-4 in the first super tiebreak to be played on the Open’s main venue – but Federer reeled off six straight points to secure the victory.

Post match, Federer revealed he apologised to 30-year-old Millman after coming through their epic encounter.

“I mumbled something to him at the net just saying, ‘I have so much respect for you, and it’s such a pity, I’m so sorry, but well played’ because I really feel that way for John,” the third seed said.

The only Australian this century to have topped Federer at a grand slam, Millman was looking to repeat his unlikely four-set fourth-round 2018 US Open win over the 20-times major champion.

“Yeah, I’m disappointed – I left it all out there and I didn’t win,” world No.47 Millman said.

“I’d probably rather lose it like 10-5 or something.

Obviously would have been great to have served an ace and have a few matchies and put it to bed but it didn’t happen.

“You know, sh-t, I played some all right tennis to get to that stage.”

Millman denied he choked, given his big tiebreak lead, and said he continued to go for his shots.

“Roger made it tough – that’s what the best players do,” he said. “We had 10 to 15 ball exchanges when I had my service points.

“I’ll have to go back and watch it but if you engaged in 10-20 ball exchanges, you ticked a few boxes, you know.

Close, but not quite: John Millman was an unlucky loser. Photo: AAP

“It’s not as if it was double faults or first-ball errors – I went after it.

“I think when you understand tennis and stuff, I don’t think there was a whole lot wrong.”

A relieved Federer, 38, added: “He’s just so, so tough from the baseline.

“The way he hits it makes me unsure if I should pull the trigger or I shouldn’t – is it there to be hit or not?

“I think the biggest problem for me was just …finding the ways to unlock him. That’s his credit. He’s a great player.”