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Australian Open: Upsets, status quo Down Under

Tennis Australian Open 2019, Melbourne, Australia - 16 Jan 2019
Frances Tiafoe in action against Kevin Anderson during their second round men’s singles match at the Australian Open on Wednesday.
(Mark Dadswell / European Pressphoto Agency)

Americans Frances Tiafoe and Amanda Anisimova pulled off big upsets, and Roger Federer and Sloane Stephens kept rolling during second-round play Wednesday in the Australian Open.

Tiafoe, 20, turned the men’s match around for 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 victory over fifth-seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa after trailing 3-0 in the second set.

Anderson, who had problems with his serving arm, had won all three previous matchups with the 39th-ranked Tiafoe, who moved on to the third round at a major for the second time.

“I just went to a different place,” Tiafoe said. “I dug insanely deep.”

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Anisimova advanced with a 6-0, 6-2 victory over 24th-seeded Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine, who had only nine winners in the 54-minute match.

The 17-year-old Anisimova is ranked 92nd, the youngest of all players in the top 100.

Federer, the defending men’s champion, was able to withstand a strong challenge from British qualifier Daniel Evans and prevail 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3), 6-3.

The 37-year-old Swiss, who is seeded third, maintained his 100% record of reaching the third round at the Open — 20 times in a row.

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Sixth-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia capped a 25-ace performance with a 7-5, 6-7 (9), 6-4, 6-4 victory over 81st-ranked Mackenzie McDonald of the U.S.

Cilic was the runner-up to Federer last year.

Fifth-seeded Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open women’s champion, dominated former doubles partner Timea Babos of Hungary 6-3, 6-1 in the first match of the session at Rod Laver Arena.

This is the first time since 2014 that Stephens has won consecutive matches at Melbourne Park. She said the improvement is a result of feeling more relaxed.

“Yeah, considering I haven’t won a match here in I don’t know how long,” she said. “I’m kind of conquering all the places where I’ve been terrible. So Asia, I’ve won a few matches there, and here.”

Later on the same court, Australia’s Ashleigh Barty beat China’s Yafan Wang 6-2, 6-3.

The 15th-seeded Barty left tennis for more than a year in 2016 to play top-level cricket and has won three WTA events since returning.

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

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Third-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark cruised 6-1, 6-3 against Johanna Larsson of Sweden.

Spain’s Rafael Nadal and Germany’s Angelique Kerber, both seeded second, played night matches.

In doubles, 40-year-old twins Bob and Mike Bryan of the U.S. opened with a 7-6 (4), 7-6 (1) win over Alex Bolt and Marc Polmans of Australia.

The late Tuesday women’s matches included American Venus Williams rallying for a 6-7 (3), 7-6 (3), 6-2 victory over 25th-seeded Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania, top-seeded Simona Halep of Romania also coming back after dropping the first set to get past Kaia Kanepi of Estonia and defending U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka of Japan beating Magda Linette of Poland 6-4, 6-2.

In the men’s draw, top-seeded Novak Djokovic of Serbia handled qualifer Mitchell Krueger of the U.S. in straight sets.


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