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Thursday October 17th, 2019 11:26AM

The Latest: Break a leg? Not a good luck charm in tennis

By The Associated Press
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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Latest on Wednesday from the Australian Open (all times local):

9:20 p.m.

Father-of-four Roger Federer clearly takes workplace safety seriously.

A sprinkling of rain over Rod Laver Arena during the first set of his second-round match against Daniel Evans at the Australian Open prompted the question from the chair umpire as to whether the weather was OK to keep playing in.

It was 4-4 and defending champion Federer was serving at 40-15. Asked if it was playable, the 20-time major winner wiped his brow and replied in the negative.

"It's always playable until a leg gets broken," he said. "I'd rather wait a little bit."

He wasn't joking, although he conceded he couldn't hear what Evans had to say about it.

"I asked him, 'Do you want to keep playing?' The first time we decided not to play because the lines were already slippery," Federer said. They stopped for five minutes.

There was the prospect of second rain delay, this time at deuce on Evans' serve.

"If he was willing to play, I was willing to play, too. I wanted to give the choice to him," Federer said. "He was laughing because it was deuce, not 40-15 that time. He was maybe feeling like I wanted to take advantage of the situation. I really didn't."

Federer, chasing a men's record seventh Australian title, won 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3), 6-3.

___

8:55 p.m.

Angelique Kerber is through to the third round at Melbourne Park after a 6-2, 6-3 win over Beatrix Haddad Maia to open night play on Rod Laver Arena.

The first set took 47 minutes thanks to a marathon sixth game with Haddad Maia serving. It went nearly 14 minutes, featured 10 deuces and Kerber had six break points which were saved by the Brazilian qualifier.

Kerber, the 2016 Australian titlist, will next play Australian wild-card entry Kimberly Birrell, who had an upset 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 win over No. 29-seeded Donna Vekic.

The last match of the day on Rod Laver Arena featured No. 2-seeded Rafael Nadal playing Matthew Ebden.

_____

8:35 p.m.

Reilly Opelka's 67 aces and 97 winners weren't enough to overpower diminutive Italian Thomas Fabbiano, who withstood the barrage across five sets and advanced to the third round of the Australian Open.

The 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Opelka served 40 aces in his opening win over fellow American and No. 9-seeded John Isner in a first-round contest between two of the tallest men on the tour.

The second round was a contrast, with the 5-foot-8 (1.73-meter) Fabbiano winning 6-7 (15), 6-2, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (5) to reach the third round for only the third time at a major.

Fabbiano kept his unforced errors down to 26 — compared with Opelka's 67 — and took his chances when he had them, converting three of his five break-point chances and saving four of the five he faced.

And that's the long and the short of it.

____

8:15 p.m.

Aryna Sabalenka had just beaten Katie Boulter in straight sets in Melbourne Arena when she flung her headband into the crowd in celebration.

Then the fun began.

Two fans grabbed it at the same time, and neither was prepared to let it go.

For the next several minutes, the women tugged one way, then the next, both trying to gain control of the coveted souvenir.

In the end, video circulating on social media showed tournament security staff intervening in an attempt to defuse the situation. There was no immediate comment from Australian Open officials as to whether the women were ejected from the stadium.

_____

7:45 p.m.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova has reached the third round of the Australian Open with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Irina-Camelia Begu.

It was Kvitova's fourth consecutive win over Begu.

Kvitova is coming off her 26th career title after winning last week's Sydney International.

The 26-year-old Kvitova lost in the first round last year here, her first loss in the first round of a Grand Slam tournament in four years.

She didn't play in the 2017 Australian Open because she was recovering from injuries sustained in a home invasion attack in the Czech Republic in December 2016.

Kvitova has since had a resurgence, winning a WTA Tour-leading five titles in 2018.

_____

6:40 p.m.

Australian wildcard entry Kimberly Birrell has had an upset 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 win over No. 29-seeded Donna Vekic to reach the third round of the Australian Open.

"It is so surreal," the 20-year-old, No. 240-ranked Birrell said. "That was just such a blur. I get to play again. It's crazy."

Playing again could mean a match against No. 2-ranked Angelique Kerber, the 2016 Australian Open champion, who was playing Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil in the second round later Wednesday.

Birrell started the year with her first ever victory over a top 10 player when she beat Daria Kasatkina in the first round at the Brisbane International, where Vekic reached the semifinals.

Vekic declined to answer questions about Birrell, who was playing in the main draw of a major for just the second time.

____

6:20 p.m.

American Taylor Fritz outlasted 30th-seeded Gael Monfils in a 3-hour, 24-minute second-round match at the Australian Open, all for the right to play defending champion Roger Federer in the next round.

Fritz prevailed 6-3, 6-7 (8), 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), closing with his 15th ace of the match, to advance to a Friday match against the six-time Australian Open champion.

Fritz was only broken once as Monfils converted just one of 13 break-point chances. Fritz converted three of his 15 break opportunities against Monfils, who was his usual acrobatic self at times during the match.

_____ 5:55 p.m.

Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki has advanced to the third round of the only Grand Slam tournament she's won, beating Johanna Larsson 6-1, 6-3 at Melbourne Park.

Wozniacki beat Simona Halep in the final last year at Melbourne Park for her first major singles title.

The Danish player will next play the winner of the later match between Maria Sharapova and Rebecca Peterson.

_____

5:20 p.m.

The Bryan brothers have reunited as a doubles combination at a Grand Slam tournament and have opened with a 7-6 (4), 7-6 (1) win over Alex Bolt and Marc Polmans at the Australian Open.

Bob Bryan was sidelined last year after injuring his hip in the lead-up to the French Open, and Mike paired with fellow American Jack Sock to win the Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles and the ATP Finals, taking the world No. 1 ranking on his own.

With Bob back to full fitness, the 40-year-old twins returned for the ASB Classic in Auckland earlier this month and reached the semifinals before heading to Melbourne for the Australian Open.

The Bryan brothers, who have won 16 Grand Slam doubles titles together, will meet Adrian Mannarino and Andreas Mies in the second round at Melbourne Park.

___

5:15 p.m.

Defending champion Roger Federer's strong run against qualifiers at Grand Slam tournaments continued with a 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3), 6-3 win over Daniel Evans in the second round at the Australian Open.

Federer also maintained his 100 percent record of reaching the third round at the Australian Open — 20 times in a row.

The six-time Australian Open champion has lost just once in 27 matches against qualifiers in majors, and that came to Mario Ancic at Wimbledon 17 years ago.

After two tougher-than-expected sets, Federer broke Evans' serve to take a 3-1 lead in the third set and served out the match.

The 37-year-old Federer will play either Gael Monfils or Taylor Fritz in the third round.

_____

4:35 p.m.

Marin Cilic capped a 25-ace performance with a pair to serve out a second-round victory at the Australian Open, beating 81st-ranked Mackenzie McDonald of the U.S. 7-5, 6-7 (9), 6-4, 6-4.

Cilic was the runner-up here to Roger Federer last year and is seeded No. 6 this time.

Cilic hasn't lost at Melbourne Park to anyone ranked as low as McDonald since 2007.

___

4:25 p.m.

Two-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson let a sizable lead slip away amid problems with his serving arm and lost to 20-year-old Frances Tiafoe 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in the Australian Open's second round.

The No. 5-seeded Anderson was the runner-up at Wimbledon last year and the U.S. Open in 2017 and had won all three previous matchups against the 39th-ranked Tiafoe.

But after trailing by a set and 3-0 in the second, Tiafoe turned this match around to get to the third round at a major for the second time.

Anderson received repeated visits from a trainer for his bothersome right arm.

___

3:45 p.m.

American teenager Amanda Anisimova has advanced to the third round at the Australian Open with a 6-0, 6-2 win over 24th-seeded Lesia Tsurenko.

Tsurenko, a finalist at the Brisbane International two weeks ago, had only nine winners in the 54-minute match.

The 17-year-old Anisimova, born in New Jersey to Russian-born parents, is ranked 92nd and the youngest of all players currently ranked in the top 100.

_____

3:30 p.m.

Ashleigh Barty's coach is ill and away from Melbourne Park while the Australian player continues in singles and doubles at the Australian Open. Barty said after her second-round win over Wang Yafan that her coach Craig Tyzzer is bed-ridden and that she's getting help in the meantime from Australian Fed Cup coach Alicia Molik.

"He's on bed rest at the moment," Barty said of Tyzzer. "Extremely lucky to have a Fed Cup captain in (Molik), who ... is also around a lot of the slams. It's a very seamless transition."

Barty said she is still communicating with Tyzzer by phone.

_____

3:10 p.m.

Light rain showers suspended play briefly on Rod Laver Arena but the roofs on the main show court and two other arenas remained open.

Ball boys and girls used towels to wipe the white lines on the court on Rod Laver Arena during the second-round match between defending champion Roger Federer and Daniel Evans.

Play resumed after a delay of less than five minutes.

_____

2:20 p.m.

The brightest local hope for an Australian Open women's title in decades is through to the third round at Melbourne Park. Ashleigh Barty beat Wang Yafan 6-2, 6-3 in a Rod Laver Arena match.

The 15th-seeded Barty was a finalist at last week's Sydney International, beating No. 1-ranked Simona Halep along the way.

Barty left tennis for more than a year in 2016 to play top-level cricket despite no formal training in the sport, and has risen up the tennis rankings since her return, winning three WTA events.

The last Australian winner of the Australian Open's women's singles title was Chris O'Neill in 1978.

_____

2 p.m.

Stefanos Tsitsipas is through to the third round and closer to a potential meeting with defending champion Roger Federer at Melbourne Park.

The Greek 20-year-old beat Viktor Troicki 6-3, 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 but wasted a lot of break-point opportunities as the Serbian player saved 15 of 19 chances created by Tsitsipas.

Considered one of the new breed of young talented players on the ATP Tour, Tsitsipas won at Stockholm last year and was a finalist in two other tournaments.

He will next play 19th-seeded Nikoloz Basilashvili, who beat Stefano Travaglie 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, also on Wednesday. Tsitsipas could play Federer in the fourth round.

____

12:55 p.m.

Sloane Stephens has advanced to the third round at Melbourne Park with a 6-3, 6-1 win over her former junior doubles partner Timea Babos.

Babos faced 23 break points and managed to save 18 of them, otherwise the match would have been over quicker than its elapsed time of 1 hour, 35 minutes.

The fifth-seeded Stephens, who won the 2017 U.S. Open, captured junior doubles titles with Babos at the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2010.

Stephens will next play Petra Martic.

In other early women's matches, No. 19-seeded Caroline Garcia defeated Zoe Hives 6-3, 6-3, Aliaksandra Sasnovich beat 20th-seeded Anett Kontaveit 6-3, 6-3 and 31st-seeded Martic beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-4, 7-5.

____

11:50 a.m.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands lost her longtime doubles partner Lucie Safarova when the Czech player decided to retire at the end of last year. Together they won five Grand Slam doubles titles, including the Australian Open twice.

So when Mattek-Sands began the search for a new teammate, there was no doubt who she'd go after.

"I went for the best. Demi can play with anybody," Mattek-Sands said, smiling. She was referring to Demi Schuurs, one of the most accomplished doubles players on the tour who won seven WTA doubles titles last year with four different partners.

Mattek-Sands will also play mixed doubles with Jamie Murray, Andy Murray's brother. Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray won the U.S. Open mixed title last year and will try to make it two majors in a row.

Jamie Murray will play men's doubles with Bruno Soares and will be third-seeded. The top men's seeds in doubles will be Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic, who won last year's title at Melbourne Park.

_____

11:00 a.m.

Former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens plays Timea Babos to open second-round singles play at Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday on Day Three of the Australian Open.

The fifth-seeded Stephens, who won the 2017 U.S. Open, captured junior doubles titles with Babos at the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2010.

Under sunny skies and an expected high temperature of 29 Celsius (84 Fahrenheit), local hope Ashleigh Barty is scheduled to play the second match on the main show court against Wang Yafan.

Then it's over to defending champion Roger Federer for his match against Daniel Evans. Angelique Kerber, the 2016 champion, plays Beatriz Haddad Maia to open night play at Rod Laver, followed by Rafael Nadal's match against Matthew Ebden.

Defending women's singles champion Caroline Wozniacki plays Johanna Larsson over at Margaret Court Arena.

___

More AP Tennis: https://www.apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Tennis, AP Sports - Men's Tennis, AP Sports - Women's Tennis
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