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Wimbledon thrills

By People Daily
Thursday, February 11th, 2021
Serena Williams of the US hits a return ball against Germany’s Laura Siegemund during their women’s singles match on day one of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 8, 2021. Photo/AFP
In summary

Melbourne, Wednseday

Eight-time champion Novak Djokovic was made to sweat at the Australian Open on Wednesday as Serena Williams made serene progress in her bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title.

Women’s favourite Naomi Osaka also charged through but fellow major-winners Stan Wawrinka, Bianca Andreescu and Petra Kvitova were all second-round casualties.

Djokovic was given a stern examination by America’s Frances Tiafoe and dropped his first set of the tournament before recovering to win 6-3, 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/2), 6-3.

“I was fortunate to get through the third set today, it was anybody’s game,” said the defending champion, after his win in hot conditions on Rod Laver Arena.

The top seed looked in control after taking the first set, but lightning-quick Tiafoe, who reached the quarter-finals two years ago, refused to go quietly.

The American bounced back to take a close second set but imploded as tensions rose in the fourth, receiving a code violation for an audible obscenity as Djokovic took charge.

“I thought we both played on a pretty high level. I mean, he pushed me to the very limit,” said Djokovic.

The Serb is targeting a record-extending ninth title and his 18th Grand Slam trophy overall as he snaps at the heels of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who top the all-time list with 20 each.

He avoided the fate of 2014 winner Wawrinka, who blew three match points in the fifth-set tiebreaker in his four-hour epic with Marton Fucsovics, who won 7-5, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 7-6 (11/9).

“I had some chance to finish the match, I didn’t finish,” said the 35-year-old Swiss, a three-time Grand Slam winner.

“I hesitated a little bit when I had the match point and I lost it.”

Osaka, whose three Grand Slam titles include the 2019 Australian crown,  had no such trouble in her evening match against France’s Caroline Garcia, winning 6-2, 6-3 in 61 minutes.

Earlier Williams, 39, continued her quest to equal Margaret Court’s all-time mark of 24 Grand Slams with a 6-3, 6-0 romp past 99th-ranked Serbian Nina Stojanovic.

Williams hit 27 winners in her 101st Australian Open match while again sporting her unique, one-legged catsuit inspired by track legend ‘Flo-Jo’. 

“I’m here to have fun and it’s great to be playing in front of a crowd,” said the American great. -AFP

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