Rublev edges Rune with lucky net cord on match point to enter quarters
MELBOURNE: Aney Rublev rallied back from the brink to dump Holger Rune out of the Australian Open and book a second quarter-final at Melbourne Park, courtesy of a lucky net cord on match point that sealed a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (11-9) cliffhanger on Monday.
Fifth seed Rublev had to do it the hard way, having been 2-5 down in the final set at the Rod Laver Arena and needing to save two match points to take contest into a 10-point tie-break of unrelenting tension.
He slipped 0-5 behind in the tie-breaker but roared back to lead 9-7 before ninth seed Rune saved two match points in a late twist.
It took the net cord to separate them, with Rublev’s final return clipping the net and popping over on the third match point, leaving the Dane no chance.
“(Tennis is) not a rollercoaster, it’s like they put a gun to your head,” Rublev said on court. “I think a rollercoaster is a lot easier, man. I never in my life was able to win matches like this, this was the first time in my life I was able to win a match like this.”
Rublev will meet Novak Djokovic in the last eight stage. “No one wants to face Novak, I would rather be in any other part of the draw,” added Rublev wryly.
Djokovic storms into quarter-finals
Djokovic steamrolled local hope Alex de Minaur 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 to ease into the quarter-finals with a statement win in his quest for a 10th title at the Grand Slam that has only been threatened by a hamstring issue.
It was Djokovic’s 38th consecutive win on Australian soil and the fewest number of games he has dropped in a match at the year’s first major since he lost four against Lucas Pouille in the semi-finals in 2019.
Djokovic drew first blood after a breathless start to the match when De Minaur crashed a forehand into the net to allow the fourth seed to go up 4-2. The Serbian consolidated the break and struck again to claim the first set.
Having never lost at Melbourne Park since the fourth round in 2018, the 35-year-old was in no mood to give De Minaur a sniff of a chance at the Rod Laver Arena, as he raced out of the blocks and dominated his opponent with blistering shots on both wings.
Meanwhile, India pair of Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza sealed their berth in the quarter-finals of the mixed doubles, beating Uruguay’s Ariel Behar and Japan’s Makoto Ninomiya. The veteran India duo of Bopanna and Mirza defeated their opponents in straight sets 6-4, 7-6(11-9) on Court 7.
Bopanna and Mirza will next square off against Latvian and Spanish pair of Jelena Ostapenko and David Vega Hernandez in the quarter-final round.