The Netflix curse reared its ugly head once again on Friday night with sixth seed Maria Sakkari knocked out by little-known Chinese competitor Lin Zhu.
Sakkari was the only woman left of those who featured on the first series of the new show Break Point, leaving Felix Auger-Aliassime as the last player standing.
The Sakkari boilover came on the same day last year’s finalist Danielle Collins was sent packing and a night after no.2 seed Ons Jabeur was also stunned.
It means only two of the top six seeds have advanced to round four, with Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia a chance to make that three when she faces Laura Siegemend on Sunday.
In a field already missing last year’s winner Ash Barty, as well as others due to injury, the race for the women’s crown has burst wide open.
No.1 seed Iga Swiatek continues to look a class above, but Jessica Pegula, Aryna Sabalenka and boom teen Coco Gauff now all have serious cases for a maiden grand slam triumph.
Following her 7-6 1-6 6-4 shock loss, Sakkari said she felt like it was hard to relax during the tournament and would have to analyse why she felt an inflated sense of pressure.
“Obviously, this is a grand slam, but at the same time … you have to start feeling better, and that’s something that I didn’t feel personally,” she said.
“It’s something rare because it’s different if I was, you know, at the US Open.
“I don’t know why I didn’t let myself play my game.
“I could picture myself going deep in this tournament, but for some reason things went the wrong way.”
Daniil Medvedev on Friday became the latest title contender to crash out of the men’s draw at the Australian Open, but Iga Swiatek led a charge of the women’s seeds into the last 16.Russia’s Medvedev was runner-up at the last two Grand Slams in Melbourne but his tournament ended with a whimper in round three at the hands of Sebastian Korda.
Seventh seed Medvedev followed defending champion Rafael Nadal and world number three Casper Ruud in exiting in the first week while world number one Carlos Alcaraz withdrew before the tournament began.
Stefanos Tsitsipas is now the highest remaining seed at three and the Greek star stretched his unbeaten streak this year to set up a last-16 clash with Italian Jannik Sinner.
The 24-year-old Tsitsipas, who is yet to drop a set, clinched his seventh straight win of 2023 by beating Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor 6-2, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3.
Tsitsipas is refusing to get carried away as he chases a first major title. “There are no presents,” he warned.
“You should be going after it, you should be creating those opportunities and aiming big within yourself, sometimes surpass your own abilities.” Also into the last 16 are sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime and 18th seed Karen Khachanov.
SECRET BOND DRIVING AUS OPEN’S US REVOLUTION
There is no escaping the Americans at Melbourne Park – and a series of bonding visits to escape rooms across Australia might be behind the United States’ tennis resurgence.
For the first time since 1996, a dominant 14 stars from the US progressed into the third round at the Australian Open and — as evidenced by their padlock scribbles on TV camera lenses post-victories — they are “locked in”.
The unity was born at the United Cup, where Jessica Pegula, Taylor Fritz, Madison Keys and Frances Tiafoe spearheaded Team USA’s unstoppable charge to the inaugural title.
When Fritz sealed the crown he was headbutted by an overzealous Tiafoe.
“It was awesome until Frances headbutted me,” Fritz said.
“I have a bump on my head.”
While Fritz was the shock casualty at Melbourne Park – Alexei Popyrin became the first Aussie to beat a top-10 player since Lleyton Hewitt in 2005 – there are stars and stripes everywhere in the draw.
“Just have to stay locked,” Tiafoe said.
“It’s the whole thing with the United Cup guys. I made a joke about it with the guys, the United Cup asking them before the march, ‘Are you locked?’
“It’s definitely become a thing. I’ve been kind of living by that for a little bit.”
Tiafoe’s psychedelic ensemble has stolen headlines this week and it’s one his rivals admit they couldn’t pull off.
“Do you think I would wear that?” Englishman Daniel Evans joked this week.
“I think Frances pulls it off pretty well. He definitely has the physique to pull it off, but you wouldn’t see me wearing a singlet or whatever they’re called.”
Tiafoe has revved up the rowdy crowd at John Cain Arena and started requesting the venue for matches – just like Nick Kyrgios has previously.
But over on Rod Laver Arena two lesser-knowns took down leading contenders. For the first time in 29 years American men defeated both the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds at the same major.
Back in 1994 it was Jim Courier eliminating No. 1 Pete Sampras and Aaron Krickstein eliminating No. 2 seed Michael Stich.
This time around it was Mackenzie McDonald sending No. 1 seed and defending champ Rafael Nadal packing before Jenson Brooksby turfed No. 2 seed Casper Ruud.
McDonald took notes from his countrymen’s recent wins against Nadal.
“I thought about Taylor taking him out, and Foe (Tiafoe),” McDonald said.
“I talked to Tommy (Paul) about it too last night. That definitely gave me some more confidence.”
Tiafoe tickled McDonald’s ego before he pulled off the shock of the tournament … in straight sets.
“I think it’s been a question mark how Rafa has been feeling for a little bit now,” Tiafoe said.
“I told Mackey, listen, you could join the three amigos: me, Fritz, and Tommy (Paul). We all got him (Nadal).
“Also, I told him, you’re going to be in a position to win today. GOAT wins don’t come easy. Something to tell his grandkids one day.”
Then it was Brooksby’s turn. Craig O’Shannessy – a former strategist for Novak Djokovic – loved the tactics from the 22-year-old.
“Brooksby just played 68 long rallies of nine-plus … and won FIFTY of them. Whaa?” O’Shannessy said on social media.
“He absolutely chopped Casper in the lactic-acid long rally stakes.”
On the camerarderie, Brooksby said: “I think we all push each other to really get better, regardless of each guy’s situation. I think that’s shown in a lot of the guys having strong results lately”.
In the men’s side they entered with just two players ranked in the top 30 (No. 9 Fritz and No. 17 Tiafoe) while the women’s side was far stronger, with four stars inside the top 15 (No. 3 Jess Pegula, No. 7 Coco Gauff, No. 11 Danielle Collins and No. 13 Madison Keys).
In both the States are shooting the lights out. On Friday it was a Pegula pasting as she took just 65 minutes to beat Marta Kostyuk 6-2 6-2.
It was a similar story for Gauff, who won 6-3 6-2 against fellow American Bernarda Pera.
Even “lucky loser” Michael Mmoh is still alive – and will face another American, JJ Wolf, on Saturday.
“I don’t think I’m ever going to say I’m an unlucky person for the rest of my life,” Mmoh said of his run.
As for the escape rooms? Well, Pegula is the captain behind the bonding.
“We did another escape room,” she said this week.
“We did boys versus girls and girls won, so go girls.
“It was kind of like an anti-team building experience because we kind of all wanted to kill each other at the end, but hopefully it brings us together today.”
Originally published as Australian Open 2023 day 6 live scores, results, schedule and order of play