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21 Jan, 2019 18:33

Aus Open Day 8: Roundup & reaction Down Under as Djokovic, Williams & Raonic through to QF (PHOTOS)

Aus Open Day 8: Roundup & reaction Down Under as Djokovic, Williams & Raonic through to QF (PHOTOS)

Day 8 of the Australian Open 2019 produced no real shocks but still a marathon of high-octane action, confusion, frustration and elation as the sport's stars battled for a place in the quarterfinals in Melbourne.

Grand Slam veterans Novak Djokovic, the men’s number one, and 23-time major champion Serena Williams graced the court at Rod Laver Arena on Monday, both booking last eight places in brilliant matches. Here, RT Sport rounds up all the action from the eighth day of tennis’ season-opener.

Nole regains balance to oust Medvedev


Novak Djokovic remained on course to bag a seventh title Down Under as he fought his way to a 6-4, 6-7, 6-2, 6-3, having several times lost his balance on court during rallies with the spindly, 6ft 6in Moscow native Daniil Medvedev.

‘Nole’ survived a tiebreak scare in the second set to comfortably move past the 22-year-old. The Serbian has now reached the quarter final stage of all four majors at least 10 times each, equaling fellow great Roger Federer’s Open Era record.

The 31-year-old, 14-time Grand Slam winner will face Japanese hotshot Kei Nishikori, joking upon learning of the news in his post-match interview: “Thanks for the great news. I was hoping you were going to say the other guy won!”

Carreno Busta incredulous at bizarre umpire ruling in marathon Nishikori match

As it happened, that other guy, Spanish ace Pablo Carreno Busta, very nearly could and quite possibly should have won. Carreno Busta let slip a two-set advantage to lose a grueling five-set thriller against a highly-spirited Nishikori.

It took Nishikori five hours and five minutes to sew up the hard-fought victory, that featured an opening set that lasted for 76 minutes. Eventually, Nishikori clawed back two sets to send the match into a decider, claiming three sets on the trot and two by tiebreak to win 6-7, 4-6, 7-6, 6-4, 7-6 and book his place in the last eight.

The match ended in controversy, when Carreno Busta was left angry and dumbfounded by a bizarre umpire decision in the decider’s tiebreak, which he was leading 8-5 when a quarrel erupted over a line call decision. When it didn’t go his way, and Nishikori rallied back to win, he called the umpire a “b*stard” and throw his kit bag on the floor.

Nishikori was much more reserved, and said after the game.“Today was the longest match I have had this week. I will try to be fresh for the next match.”  

Japanese double 

Another Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka, who was infamously upstaged by a hopping-mad Serena Williams at last year’s US Open, came from behind to knock out Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to continue the battle at the season-opening Grand Slam.

The tournament fourth seed, who won her maiden Grand Slam in New York, set up a meeting with Ukrainian star and ATP Finals 2018 winner Elina Svitolina, who beat American Madison Keys 6-2, 1-6, 6-1 in her respective match.

Pliskova Czechs into QF with win over Muguruza

A less than great day for Spanish tennis was compounded when, adding to Carreno Busta’s meltdown and exit woe, his compatriot Garbine Muguruza was beaten in straight sets 6-3, 6-1 by Czech seventh seed Karolina Pliskova, who celebrated with an ice bath afterwards.

Muguruza has now gone three Grand Slams in a row without reaching the quarter-final stage, her worst run since the 2014 French Open. Earlier the jovial Spaniard had expressed her surprise that fans even cared to watch her matches given the time difference between Australia and her homeland.

There can only be 1

Pliskova will meet fellow former world number one and tennis great Serena Williams who dispatched current world number one and subsequent number one seed at the tournament Simona Halep. The Romanian had beaten Williams’ elder sister Venus in the previous round, with 37-year-old Serena serving up revenge for her vanquished sibling.

Also on rt.com Serena survives 3-set thriller to reach Australian Open QF, remains on track for 24th Grand Slam

That quarter final match will take place on Wednesday, with Serena looking to defeat the 26-year-old to make the semifinals stage and remain on course to win a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam and her eight Australian Open crown.

Zverev enters Twilight Zone

Rising star Alexander Zverev, who shot to fame by winning the year-end 2018 ATP Finals, incurred the wrath of tennis legend and notorious ‘SuperBrat’ John McEnroe after his sloppy performance against spindly Canadian Milos Raonic prompted him to smash his racket on the floor.

Also on rt.com 'That’s like twilight zone stuff': Legend McEnroe blasts 'crazy' Zverev meltdown at Aus Open (VIDEO)

Zverev went down 6-1 in the opening two sets to Raonic, and with his impending humiliation in the second set, adding to the opener in which he had his every serve broken to lose in just 10 minutes, Zverev unleashed the racket attack during a change of ends.

McEnroe, renowned for his "you cannot be serious" catchphrase and notoriously tumultuous persona, said of the 21-year-old: “That’s crazy. That’s like twilight zone stuff,” before adding, “a sports psychologist would do a lot with this little clip of Zverev as far as things not to do in this environment." Zverev went on to lose despite a third set fightback 6-1, 6-1, 7-6.

Underdog Pouille makes last 8

And last but not least there was joy for 24-year-old Frenchman Lucas Pouille, who reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open for the first time ever by beating 11th-seed Borna Coric of Croatia in an extremely hard fought match 6-7, 6-4, 7-5, 7-6 in a confident victory despite being a huge underdog and the tournament's 28th seed.

The running order for Day 9 of the Australian Open is as follows:

Roberto Bautista Agut v Stefanos Tsitsipas

Frances Tiafoe v Rafael Nadal

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Danielle Rose Collins

Petra Kvitová v Ashleigh Barty

All fixtures to take place Tuesday, January 22, at Rod Laver Arena