The Australian Open has been rocked by a night of extraordinary upsets after big guns Daniil Medvedev, Maria Sakkari and Cameron Norrie all crashed out on Friday. Medvedev, a two-time runner-up at Melbourne Park, was the biggest casualty as he suffered a shock straight-sets loss to Sebastian Korda.
Korda, a 22-year-old American and son of 1998 Australian Open champion Petr, claimed a bonkers first set that went for 85 minutes and included six breaks on Friday to set up a 7-6 (9-7) 6-3 7-6 (7-4) victory on Rod Laver Arena. The 29th seed will now Hubert Hurkacz in the fourth round after the 10th seed beat 20th seed Denis Shapovalov.
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"Probably one of the better matches I've played in my career," Korda said. "Just stuck with the game plan, kept going after it. No matter what happened, kept pushing forward."
Korda has emerged as a genuine contender for the title at Melbourne Park after narrowly losing to Novak Djokovic in the Adelaide International final last week. Korda's father Petr won his only major at the Australian Open 25 years ago, while mother Regina Rajchrtova is also a tennis Olympian. Both his sisters, Jessica and Nelly, have won the Australian Open in golf.
"It's a special place for us. We've had some really great results," Korda said. "Hopefully I can do one better than the juniors and do it in the pros.
"I don't know what I'm going to be ranked now but my mum's career (high) ranking was 26, my dad's was two, my sister Nelly was No.1, my older sister Jessica was sixth. So I'm definitely the worst athlete in the family so far!"
After losing to Rafa Nadal in the Australian Open final last year from two sets up, Medvedev has failed to advance past the fourth round in the three grand slams he has contested since. He said on Friday night: "Right now, I'm a little bit struggling to win these kind of matches against opponents that can play good level. That's what I have to find back."
Meanwhile, Greek sixth seed Sakkari became the latest big casualty in the women's draw. Sakkari suffered a 7-6 (7-3) 1-6 6-4 loss to China's World No.87 Zhu Lin, which came after 10th seed Madison Keys was beaten 1-6 6-2 6-1 by two-time champion Victoria Azarenka.
"Is this real? Am I in a dream?" Zhu sobbed in her on-court interview. "Thank you, my team, and thank you for pushing me every day.
"It's just I have to believe in myself that I have the ability to be able to play at this high level and I need to work hard every day. And, yeah, who knows what's going to happen? You never know."
And 11th seed Norrie fell to World No.71 Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic. The British hope went down 6-7 (8-10) 6-3 3-6 6-1 6-4.
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Altogether, the Australian Open lost eight seeded players on Friday - Medvedev (7), Norrie (11), Frances Tiafoe (16), Shapovalov (20), Francisco Cerundolo (28), Sakkari (6), Keys (10) and Danielle Collins (13). But there were no such troubles for fellow big guns Iga Swiatek, Jessica Pegula and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
World No.1 Swiatek swept past Cristina Bucsa 6-0 6-1 and was joined in the fourth round by Wimbledon champion and next opponent Elena Rybakina, along with Pegula, Barbora Krejcikova, Coco Gauff and Jelena Ostapenko. American star Pegula hasn't dropped a set so far, beating Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk 6-0 6-2 in just an hour and five minutes.
Jannik Sinner set up a blockbuster clash with third seed Tsitsipas after pulling off a stunning five-set comeback against Marton Fucsovics to win 4-6 4-6 6-1 6-2 6-0. Tsitsipas eased past Tallon Griekspoor in straight sets shortly after, winning 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 6-3.
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