Fans at the Australian Open couldn't believe what they were witnessing in the fourth round match between Karen Khachanov and Yoshihito Nishioka, as the Russian star handed his rival a double bagel in his three set victory. The first two sets of the eventual straight sets win were won to love, with Nishioka as baffled as fans were after the 6-0, 6-0, 7-6 demolition job.
The opening two sets took just 46 minutes to complete, with an increasingly frustrated Nishioka taking his anger out on his racquet in a moment of madness after the second set. While he seemingly rediscovered his touch in the third set, it was too little, too late for the Japanese World No.33.
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Khachanov took less than two hours to set up a tantalising quarter-final against Sebastian Korda, whose path to the quarters proved substantially more difficult than his next opponent's. The American star needed five sets to eventually overcome 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz in what was a hugely entertaining arm-wrestle.
Even the victorious Khachanov admitted after the match that he was perplexed by what was happening to his opponent. Nevertheless, he was happy to come away with an impressive victory.
"First two sets I didn't know what was going on," said the world No.20. "But it's never easy when you are going with a score too easy. You feel it and then at one point Yoshi tried to turn it around, he pumped the crowd and it's normal.
"So I tried to stay focused all the match from the beginning but it's not easy to win with this score, three straight sets. So the third set was a really tough one. I'm playing well so I'm really happy to go through."
In Khachanov's defence, very few fans could comprehend the magnitude of the first two sets. Social media was on fire with fans in utter disbelief.
On the men's side, Yoshihito Nishioka came within four games of history, albeit an ignominious piece. He was 6-0 6-0 2-0 down to Karen Khachanov before he finally broke his duck and eventually forced (and lost) a third-set tie-break.#AusOpen
— James Gray (@jamesgraysport) January 22, 2023
— Tennis4ever (@Tennis4everr) January 22, 2023
#Khachanov beats #Nishioka 6-0, 6-0, 7-6(4) to complete his set of slam quarters. Karen was up 6-0, 6-0, 2-0, 40-15 at one stage. Four games away from a triple bagel which would be unthinkable in a slam 4th round & he lost only 2 points in 2nd set-Ridiculous stat! #AusOpen
— SportsTalk (@rajeshworld) January 22, 2023
A horrible fourth-round match ends for 31st-seeded Nishioka as he goes down 0-6, 0-6, 6-7 (4) to Khachanov.#AustralianOpen
— Nihit (@nihitsachdeva28) January 22, 2023
Poor Nishioka. He fought so hard at the end there.
— Rain Delays Play (@raindelaysplay) January 22, 2023
The quarter-final conqueror of Nick Kyrgios at last year's US Open, Khachanov has rediscovered the form that thrust him into the world's top 10 four years ago. With 15 aces and 30 winners, the big-serving Russian ultimately needed less than two hours to progress and book a last-eight clash against Korda.
Korda knocks out Hurkacz to set up Khachanov clash
Korda knocked out 10th seed Hurkacz in a five-set thriller on Sunday, prevailing 3-6 6-3 6-2 1-6 7-6 (10-7). It was the fifth match in the men's tournament decided by a fifth-set tiebreaker.
Korda rattled off six straight points during the tiebreaker to build a 7-3 lead but lost the next four points as Hurkacz levelled. The American 29th seed eventually closed it out on his own serve, later revealing an unusual secret to his success throughout the rollercoaster finish.
"I got a little superstitious with the towel. The towel got me through it," he said. "Every time I went to the towel, I won the point. So I just kept going to it."
The win propelled Korda into his first grand slam quarter-final and franked the 22-year-old's form after a straight-sets triumph over seventh seed Daniil Medvedev in the third round.
"I tried to stay as calm as I possibly could," Korda said. "It was a late night the match before and I was coming out here during the day with different conditions.
"So it was difficult but I'm very happy with the way I just kind of stayed down, got through it and the outcome was great."
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