Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova’s quest for the year’s first Grand Slam came to an end as she was shown the door by American rising star Madison Keys on Day 6 of the Australian Open. Amongst the top Indian stars, Mahesh Bhupathi’s campaign ended at Melbourne Park as he lost a tight opener in mixed doubles. Earlier Bhupathi had crashed out in men’s doubles.
Meanwhile, Indian juniors made up for some of the disappointment as Sumit Nagal and Pranjala Yadlapalli won their first round matches.
Petra Kvitova’s Australian Open hopes come to an end
19-year-old Madison Keys gave a glimpse of her much-talked about potential by scoring the biggest win of her career at the Rod Laver Arena. The talented youngster kept on firing on all cylinders to knock out world number four Petra Kvitova 6-4, 7-5.
Keys came into the Australian Open armed with former world number one Lindsay Davenport as a part of her coaching team. And the confidence was showing as she started piling the pressure on Kvitova right from the beginning.
It was a superb serving display from the teenager who returned equally well as she broke the Czech five times. This was the third straight year that Kvitova lost in the first week at Melbourne Park.
Indian juniors have a field day, Bhupathi bows out
Indian juniors were very impressive as Sumit Nagal and Pranjala Yadlapalli both won their openers while Ojasvinee Singh won the first set before succumbing in three sets.
17-year-old Sumit Nagal’s win was the most talked-about as he upset fifth seed Michael Mmoh of the United States, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. It was a great effort by Nagal as Mmoh is ranked No. 7 in the ITF junior world rankings and has also reached the finals of the prestigious Eddie Herrr junior in 2014.
15-year-old Pranjala Yadlapalli too put up a wonderful performance that saw her earning a 6-4, 6-3 win over South African Katie Poluta. She has her task cut out in the second round though as she meets the top seed Shilin Xu of China.
Ojasvinee Singh, however, could not continue the momentum after blanking her opponent 6-0 in the first set. The Indian went down 0-6, 6-4, 6-1 to Olivia Hauger of the United States.
Amongst the established Indian tennis stars, Mahesh Bhupathi was the only one in action in mixed doubles. Bhupathi, partnering Australian Jarmila Gajdosova, began well but could not hold on to the advantage.
Too many unforced errors in the super tie-break did not work in favour of the Indo-Australian pair and they crumbled to a 6-4, 6-7(7), (8-10) defeat to Hao-Ching Chan and Jamie Murray.
Other title contenders reach second week
Novak Djokovic – Four-time Australian Open winner Novak Djokovic remained on track for his fifth crown after overcoming Fernando Verdasco 7-6(8), 6-3, 6-4. The Serbian has now reached the fourth round at Melbourne Park for the ninth consecutive year.
David Ferrer – The ninth seed put up a gallant fight to stave off the challenge of Gilles Simon. The Spaniard won 6-2, 7-5, 5-7, 7-6(4).
Stan Wawrinka – Defending champion Stan Wawrinka cruised into the fourth round as he defeated Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen 6-4, 6-2, 6-4. The Swiss who won the Chennai Open remains unbeaten this season and is now on a 7-match winning streak in 2015.
Kei Nishikori – Japanese number one Kei Nishikori had a stiff challenge from American Steve Johnson but found his groove to enter the Round of 16 with a 6-7(7), 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 victory.
Venus Williams – ‘’Well this old cat has a few tricks left in the bag’’ – Venus Williams confessed at her post-match press conference. Sure she has, for at 34 years of age, Venus is playing some fearless brand of tennis once again. That fearlessness is what helped her to come back from a set and a break down as she beat Camila Giorgi 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-1 to reach her first Slam fourth round in more than three years.
Serena Williams – Younger sister and world number one Serena Williams too had some trouble before posting a comeback victory. An erratic Serena lost the first set 6-4 to young Elina Svitolina but summoned all her fighting spirit to battle back for a 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 win.
Victoria Azarenka – The former two-time champion kept continuing her quest for her third crown at Melbourne. Victoria Azarenka put up a determined performance to edge past Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-4, 6-4.
In singles, Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal will look to secure their places in the second week of the Australian Open. Meanwhile, Indian stars Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna will begin their campaign in mixed doubles. In juniors, Ojasvinee Singh will be in action in doubles.