World No 3 Alexander Zverev powered his way into the last 16 of the Australian Open with a superb serving display against Moldova’s Radu Albot on Friday.
The powerful German Tokyo Olympic gold medallist thundered down 16 aces and won 83 per cent of his first-serve points to put away the 124th-ranked Albot, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in 1hr 57min in hot conditions on John Cain Arena.
Zverev will next take on Canada’s 14th seed Denis Shapovalov.
Zverev has been impressive in his three wins so far at the Open as he shapes up to a possible quarterfinal with 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal.
“I think Radu is in great form, he’s played five matches so far, so he is obviously playing well, feeling the ball well,” said Zverev who is into the second week at Melbourne Park for the fourth year in a row.
“I am happy to be through in three sets.
“I had my struggles on the court today, I didn’t feel perfect, but who is perfect? At the end of the day, I won and I’m happy about that.”
Zverev broke Albot’s serve three times and saved five break points on his own service, with his clean hitting netting him 44 winners against 30 unforced errors.
BERRETTINI FIGHTS OFF PRODIGY ALCARAZ
Italian seventh seed Matteo Berrettini fought off exciting Spanish youngster Carlos Alcaraz and the effects of a heavy tumble to win a fifth-set tiebreaker and advance to the fourth round of the Australian Open on Friday.
Berrettini, a Wimbledon finalist last year, used all of his experience to down the 18-year-old Alcaraz – the youngest man in the draw – 6-2, 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 2-6, 7-6 (10/5) in 4hr 10min on Rod Laver Arena.
Berrettini will now face Spanish 19th seed Pablo Carreno Busta in the round of 16.
Berrettini rolled his right ankle in the second game of the final set but continued on after receiving treatment from the physio. His movement did not appear to be significantly restricted.
“I’m good. Luckily it wasn’t a big one. I’m used to this,” Berrettini said later.
Reflecting on almost letting slip his two-set lead, Berrettini said, “I felt confident, and that momentum was on my side in the third set but then I got broken.
“My energy wasn’t right in the fourth set and in the fifth set I just started to fight for every point. In every match something happens (like the ankle) but I fought through it.”
Of his fourth round opponent, Berrettini said: “He’s a really solid player. Pablo’s playing good. He likes to play here in Australia. He likes to play on hard courts.”
The Italian paid tribute to the enormous potential of the 31st-ranked Alcaraz, who has been compared to famous compatriot Rafael Nadal at the same age.
“He’s unbelievable. I think at his age I didn’t even have an ATP (ranking) point,” Berrettini said.
“He’s impressive, he can only improve playing matches like this. He showed everybody his potential, luckily today I won, but congratulations to him.”
Alcaraz, who is coached by former world No 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, said he was getting closer to the game’s elite.
“When I’ve played against the top players, apart from Rafa (Nadal), I was close,” said Alcaraz, who reached the US Open quarterfinals last year.
“I think I have the level to play against the top players. I’m getting close, getting closer every tournament I play.”
KECMANOVIC GRABS ‘SECOND CHANCE’
Serbia’s 77th-ranked Miomir Kecmanovic emerged as a big winner from the Novak Djokovic saga — and capitalised on his good fortune by reaching the fourth round.
Kecmanovic was drawn to play compatriot and world No 1 Djokovic in the first round, but after the defending champion was deported, found himself instead facing lucky loser Salvatore Caruso.
He easily beat the Italian, and has been winning ever since.
Kecmanovic knocked out another Italian, 25th seed Lorenzo Sonego, 6-4, 6-7 (8/10), 6-2, 7-5 to win through to the round of 16 for the first time and will face French 17th seed Gael Monfils.
Kecmanovic’s lucky break in Melbourne has already netted him $A300 000 (US$215 000) in prize money and 180 ranking points.
“It’s unbelievable. A week ago I was supposed to play the world No 1 and didn’t have much of a chance there, but now I’m in the last 16,” the 22-year-old Kecmanovic said.
“I’m so happy that I was able to use this second chance and that I’ve been playing some really good tennis. I just wanted to use it the best that I can.”
Kecmanovic said he had not been in contact with compatriot Djokovic, who is back in Serbia after his deportation over his anti-vaccination status.
“I think he’s still recovering from everything and I didn’t really want to bother him. Give him his space. I’ll definitely talk to him eventually after things calm down,” he said.
Gael Monfils (FRA x17) bt Christian Garín (CHI x16) 7-6 (7/4), 6-1, 6-3
Pablo Carreno-Busta (ESP x19) bt Sebastian Korda (USA) 6-4, 7-5, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3
Denis Shapovalov (CAN x14) bt Reilly Opelka (USA x23) 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 6-3, 6-4