The day started off with eight Aussies left in the Australian Open — now there are just four left.
It was always going to be an uphill battle for the Aussie contingent on day three with Rinky Hijikata, John Millman and Jason Kubler facing World No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas, World No. 8 Daniil Medvedev and World No. 20 Karen Khachanov respectively.
Ash Barty’s protege Olivia Gadecki was also trounced 6-2 6-1 by Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk, who is ranked 138 placed ahead of her.
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Thanasi Kokkinakis’ three-minute cameo to complete his straight sets first round win against Fabio Fognini was the lone joy for the Aussies and leaves Kokkinakis, Alex de Minaur, Alexei Popyrin and Kim Birrell as the only Aussies left in the second round of the tournament.
In the four full matches on the schedule, only Kubler was able to take a set away from his opponent, in a 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-2 loss.
But he fought hard, including a truly bonkers 70-shot rally that has to be seen to be believed.
Kubler and Khachanov traded groundstrokes for what seemed like an eternity and with neither player going for a winner, before Kubler won the point when his shot hit the net and bounced just over.
He may have gone down in straight sets, but Millman also impressed, forcing Medvedev to change up his game plan.
Medvedev won 7-5 6-2 6-2 but the Aussie broke the Russian three times in the opening set.
“First set he managed to break me three times, it’s not that often that it happens,” Medvedev said.
“I’m a little disappointed with myself but he played amazing so big credit to John.”
Medvedev explained he slowed down in the second and third set, saying he wanted to push Millman to 40 shot rallies.
“I was like ‘OK John, if you want to beat me, let’s play 40 shot rallies all the time’,” Medvedev explained.
“That’s cruel man, really cruel,” Courier joked.
And Hijikata can hold his head high as well, despite the lopsided scoreline.
It was a huge mismatch as Hijikata is No. 169 in the world and Tsitsipas World No. 4 but Aussie legend Lleyton Hewitt liked the fight the youngster showed.
“It is good signs for a young player. He wants to be out there. He is enjoying the moment. Trying to get absolutely the most out of himself here on Rod Laver Arena,” Hewitt said in commentary.
It was a big day with rain once again effecting the proceedings as well as the monumental exit of Rafael Nadal, who appeared to have injured his hip in his shock straight sets loss to Mackenzie McDonald.
11.01pm – Ruthless Tsitsipas blows Aussie away
Rinky Hijikata has come up against a ruthless Greek tornado in Stefanos Tsitsipas, with the No. 4 claiming a dominant 6-3 6-0 6-2.
It was a huge mismatch as Hijikata is No. 169 in the world and will take a lot despite the crushing blow according to Aussie legend Lleyton Hewitt.
“It is good signs for a young player. He wants to be out there. He is enjoying the moment. Trying to get absolutely the most out of himself here on Rod Laver Arena.”
10.26pm – Barty’s protege bows out
Olivia Gadecki won her way into the second round of the Australian Open but Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk had made short work of her, winning 6-2 6-1 win in a huge performance.
Gadecki, who was playing in her first main draw at a grand slam, was working with Ash Barty as her mentor for the tournament.
Unfortunately, Barty wasn’t able to pass on her magic dust to get Gadecki even deeper in the tournament.
Despite a second round exit, Gadecki will jump from World No. 199 to approximately World No. 156.
9.04pm – British champ out of Aussie Open
Former Wimbledon champion Emma Raducanu has been bounced out of the Australian Open in the second set after seventh seed Coco Gauff claimed a 6-3 7-6 victory.
8.55pm – Kokkinakis wins in three minutes
Thanasi Kokkinakis has won in either a long time or a short time – depending on how you look at it.
His first round match took over 24 hours from start to finish, or just three minutes to finish off depending on how you look at it.
Italian Fabio Fognini was just five points from a loss — but he extended it to six points as Kokkinakis finished the match in no time at all.
It sets up a second-round match against Andy Murray tomorrow.
It hasn’t all been good for the Aussies though as Jason Kubler was bundled out in four sets to 18th seed Karen Khachanov 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-2, while Aleksandar Vukic pushed his match against Brandon Holt to a fifth set but fell 6-4 1-6 6-3 3-6 6-3.
Max Purcell was also beaten 4-6 6-3 6-4 7-6 in his match by Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori.
7.40pm – Kubler wins wild 70-shot rally
Jason Kubler is putting in a hell of an effort against 18th seed Karen Khachanov.
After losing the first set 6-4, the Aussie fought back to claim the second 7-5 and level the match at one set apiece.
His fightback included a truly bonkers 70-shot rally that has to be seen to be believed.
Kubler and Khachanov traded groundstrokes for what seemed like an eternity and with neither player going for a winner, Kubler won the point when his shot hit the net and bounced just over.
Making it even more remarkable was the fact the rally was on break point, and Kubler prevailed to break back to make it 5-5 in the second set.
It’s unclear if that was longest rally in grand slam history but if it isn’t, it must be mighty close.
5.33pm – ‘Might be the last time’: Nadal out
Rafael Nadal’s title defence is over after he was bundled out of the Australian Open in the second round against American Mackenzie McDonald 6-4 6-4 7-5.
It was a tough match for the World No. 2 after McDonald raced out of the blocks to claim the first set.
But during the second set, a stretch for a ball left Nadal more than ginger as he was forced to call the physio.
He left the court but bravely fought to the end as the American claimed the biggest win of his career.
Nadal hasn’t been the same since he pulled out of Wimbledon semi-finals with an abdominal injury and the latest setback as people again asking if this is it.
His wife Xisca was in tears in the stands.
In his press conference, Nadal said he had injured his hip but was unsure whether it was muscular or a joint and had been having issues over the past few days.
“I lost the match, that’s it,” Nadal said. “I tried to the end. I tried. It was not possible.”
Asked if he asked his physio if he should keep playing, Nadal said: “I’m old enough to take my positions. I didn’t want to leave the court.
“It’s a tough moment, it’s a tough day. You need to accept that and keep going. In the end I can’t complain about my life at all.
“I can’t say I’m not destroyed mentally … because I’d be lying.”
However, in good news, Nadal is determined to get back on the court.
In commentary, Jim Courier pondered how long it would be before Nadal came back, and whether he would return Down under again.
“Nadal has been struggling to find his game since he suffered the abdominal injury at Wimbledon last year,” Courier said.
“This is far more troubling for Nadal than just simply not being in form. He’s now not in fitness. How long will it be before we get to see him out competing again?
“So much admiration for Nadal, staying with it, so many of his peers in the locker room would have shaken hands after the injury, unable to play the way that they normally could.
“That’s not in his constitution, he stayed with it. Probably against the advice of his medical team who are up in the stands.
“You never know what to read into moments like that.
“You can obviously imagine he will be back, also imagine that he won’t be back. This might be the last time here. Let’s hope it’s not. But if it is he certainly left a big mark.”
It’s also the earliest exit for Nadal since the 2016 Australian Open when he lost in the first round in five sets to countryman Fernando Verdasco.
5.12pm – Auger-Aliassime comes from two sets down
Canadian sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime has come back from two sets to none down to pull off a remarkable 3-6 3-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 victory over Alex Molcan to move into the third round.
Molcan was devastated, seemingly in tears before the end of the game.
“He’ll have nightmares about this,” the commentators said at the end of the match.
4.36pm – Rafa leaves the court
It’s not looking good for Rafael Nadal as he has had to leave the court after seemingly suffering an injury.
After going for a wide ball, Nadal clutched his hip and was left limping.
He immediately called for the physio.
After some poking and prodding, Nadal left the court for a proper assessment.
“He’s in absolute disbelief of what just happened,” Jim Courier said.
“There is nothing in the swing in this the backhand which was a beautiful winner that would have indicated there was a problem but there certainly is.
“I just hope it’s not the same problem that took him out of Wimbledon last year when he had won so many matches in a row. He had won two matches in a row. He was tracking for the calendar year Grand Slam and then unable to take the court in the semi-finals. This is a point later. You can see he has problems Tod and they’re real.”
Tennis reporter Jose Morgado reported Nadal’s wife was in tears in the stands.
Nadal did come back to the court and although he didn’t seem too comfortable won the game on his serve.
But he’s still down a break at 6-4 5-4 on McDonald’s serve.
He lost the second set and Courier said he appeared to be contemplating carrying on.
“This is his happy place. He loves to compete,” Nadal said.
“The thing I have always admired about Rafa who has had so many injury problems throughout his career is he’s always talked when he comes back from these injury moments, and hopefully whatever has happened here won’t keep him away from the tour for long, if this is his last match in the Australian Open.
“He doesn’t talk about missing winning. That’s never ever something he brings up as we see his wife in tears at what’s happening. He talks about how he misses competing. This guy is just naturally born to compete. And if it’s taken away from him, I think it’s … That’s the part that hurts the most, I think for him. He might be staring at more time away from tour.
“How many more times can he fight the good fight of all the rehab and bring it back? At this stage, there are so many unknowns. What we do know is you’re right. It’s going to take a severe injury for him to shake hands before the last ball is hit.”
4.15pm – Rafa in serious trouble
Rafael Nadal is in danger of being knocked out in the second round.
The No. 1 seed hasn’t looked in top form this summer and he lost the first set of his match to American Mackenzie McDonald 6-4.
3pm – Pegula pokes fun at Fritz
Jessica Pegula has much done a better job of drawing a lock on the TV camera than Taylor Fritz.
The American cruised into the second round with a 6-2 7-6 win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich and managed to succcessfuly draw a lock on the camera afterwards, unlike Fritz’s NSFW effort on Tuesday.
1.40pm – Sakkari fumes, survives huge scare
World No. 6 Maria Sakkari has survived an almighty scare from Russian Diana Shnaider, with the unseeded college student taking the US Open semi-finalist deep into a third set that went for over two and a half hours.
The sixth seed prevailed 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, with the young Russian saving two match points late in the match but eventually unable to break Sakkari’s strong serve.
Sakkari and Shnaider clashed throughout the match, with the Greek taking particular exception to Shnaider yelling in celebration.
“If she screams one more time in my face, I’m going to call the referee,” she told the chair.
Sakkari held her composure to book a place in the third round of the tournament, where she will either play Switzerland’s Jil Teichmann or China’s Lin Zhu.
12.30pm – College student eyes monster payday
Russian Diana Shnaider is staring down the barrel of close to a quarter-million dollar payday as a stunning upset looms at Melbourne Park.
Shnaider, a college student at North Carolina State topped world number six Maria Sakkari to claim the opening set 6-3 with the second set currently 5-3 in favour of Sakkari.
If the 18-year-old can knock Sakkari out and secure a spot in the third round, she’ll pocket a tidy sum of $227,925.
Tennis writer Ben Rothenberg says if she can get it done, it’s likely her college days will be numbered.
“Shnaider is a student at North Carolina State University, but if she wins this match (and A$227,925) it would seem pretty likely for her to turn pro,” he wrote.
As she’s currently listed on a college roster she has to decide to either keep her NCAA eligibility or the money.
12pm – Aus Open ratings bomb again
Things aren’t looking good for the Australian Open host broadcaster with the TV ratings diving once again on night two.
Channel 9 made the odd decision to not show Serbian superstar Novak Djokovic’s opening round encounter, instead going with homegrown talent in Alex de Minaur, Alexei Popyrin and Thanasi Kokkinakis.
The decision backfired with fans left seeing red over the decision and the ratings showing just how dire things are.
In comparison to last year’s Open, the figures are down a whopping 28 per cent for the main channel across both sessions.
After Kokkinakis’ match was called off due to rain, back up channel Gem switched over to Djokovic’s match. But fans were already fuming.
In some good news for the host broadcaster however on day two, the ratings did eclipse the figures of The Chase and Home And Away which edged them out on day one.
11am – Play delayed due to wet weather
Another day, more weather wreaking havoc at the Australian Open. On Tuesday it started with heat and ended with rain.
On Wednesday it’s the rain that’s delaying play to get day three underway.
Play will commence on the three undercover show courts, however play on outdoor courts will be delayed until 11:30am (AEDT) at the earliest.
9.30am – ‘Tanking’ allegation levelled against star
Thanasi Kokkinakis was in devastating form during his opening round encounter against Italian Fabio Fognini.
His biggest rival was the Melbourne conditions which forced the matched to be stopped with the Aussie leading 6-1, 6-2, 4-2.
The two men will return to the court on Wednesday to finish off their match but it was the display of the former world number nine which raised eyebrows
Channel 9 commentator Roger Rasheed was left questioning the Italian after his nonchalant efforts throughout the match.
“You want to gauge Thanasi Kokkinakis’ form. Well, he’s hitting the ball nicely from both sides, serving well, got good rhythm, moving nicely. So from his side, his campaign is very solid,” Rasheed said.
“But his opponent hasn’t yet tested him … and put him under any duress.
“Shots like that have come off the Italian’s racquet again and again.”
It was a far cry from what he has produced on the court over the years of his career.
“The Italian likes to play shots,” Rasheed said.
“He’s got a big imagination on the court. He’s a shotmaker. He’s not just going to just hang around … generally he wants to be doing something with the ball.”
6.15am – Star’s X-rated remark stuns AO crowd
World number two Ons Jabeur faced a tougher than expected opening round clash, advancing into the second round after a hard-fought 7-6, 4-6, 6-1 victory over Tamara Zidansek.
But it was in her on-court interview after the victory when Jabeur set tongues wagging with an X-rated remark about her husband.
The Tunisian star was asked about her recovery and if ice baths would be coming into play, her response had eyebrows raising across the country.
“Yeah ice baths and I’m going to make my husband work tonight … lot of massage and good recovery,” Jabeur said.
After a brief pause and some cheers from the crowd, Jabeur clarified her unexpectedly X-rated comment.
“Massage guys, massage,” she said.
“For those who don’t know my husband is also my fitness coach and does everything for me.”
6am – Chair umpire hunts down towel thief
Wild scenes unfolded at the Australian Open after Lin Zhu and Rebecca Marino had just finished their opening round encounter with Zhu claiming the 6-2, 6-4 victory.
As the two players were standing at the net shaking hands, Marino quickly let her opponent know that a fan had done the unthinkable and stolen her towel.
“Somebody just took your towel,” Marino said.
Enter chair umpire James Keothavong. The British umpire sprung into action as he leapt off his chair and went after the thief.
“Oi,” Keothavong shouted as he raced across the court and out into the sea of fans around Melbourne Park. Unfortunately the cameras didn’t pick up what happened next.