Monfils, Rublev enter last 16 as Svitlona bows out of Australian Open

The top women's seeds have tumbled at the Australian Open in round three

Gael Monfils, Elina Svitolina, Andrey Rublev, Australian Open, Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne last 16, round of 16, Karolina Pliskova, Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka
Monfils dismissed concerns an injured hand was hampering his game, saying he was fit and well for his fourth-round clash at the season's first Grand Slam.

Elina Svitolina became the sixth top 10 women’s seed to exit in the Australian Open third round after she was well beaten by unseeded Garbine Muguruza on Saturday (January 25) while Gael Monfils and Andrey Rublev remained unbeaten to start season.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Muguruza won 6-1 6-2 and faces Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan or Dutch ninth seed Kiki Bertens in the last 16 in Melbourne.

The 26-year-old Spaniard Muguruza, a former world number one but now ranked 32, failed to win two matches in a row last year after the French Open in May-June.
But the 2016 Roland Garros and 2017 Wimbledon champion spent the off-season climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to help clear her mind of tennis — and it appears to have done the trick.
She seized the first set against fifth-seeded Ukrainian Svitolina in only 23 minutes at Rod Laver Arena.

 

She saved two break points while serving for the match, then sealed an emphatic victory with a powerful forehand winner.

“I was very concentrated and focused on what I wanted to do, it all went fast my way. I played a very good match and managed to disturb her,” the Spaniard said of the rapid first set.

Also read: Australian Open: Nadal, Halep crush rivals to enter Melbourne last 16

Muguruza had been suffering a viral illness when she began her Melbourne campaign.

“The first day I didn’t feel very well at all and I am in round four because of my big fight (spirit),” she added.

The top women’s seeds have tumbled at the Australian Open in round three.

Second seed Karolina Pliskova and sixth seed Belinda Bencic were both beaten on Saturday.

Reigning champion and third seed Naomi Osaka, eighth seed Serena Williams and 10th seed Madison Keys all fell out the Melbourne trapdoor on Friday.

Monfils not scared of injury

Monfils dismissed concerns an injured hand was hampering his game, saying he was fit and well for his fourth-round clash at the season’s first Grand Slam.

Monfils bruised his racquet hand playing a computer game last month but he said the problem didn’t trouble him at all.

“I’m fine. I’m in second week, playing great tennis. I played ATP Cup, was fine. I practised here for one month. I was really fine. I never said I was hurt,” said the Frenchman, who beat Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis 7-6 (7/2), 6-3, 6-3 to reach the last 16.

Also read: Gauff stuns Osaka, Cilic beats Bautista Agut in Australian Open

The 10th seed told reporters last week that he hit his right hand against a headboard while playing a computer game, and had iced it and taken anti-inflammatories.

He has since played two matches at the ATP Cup and three at the Australian Open, beating Lu Yen-hsun, Ivo Karlovic and now Gulbis as he seeks his first Grand Slam win.

“I love the game. I love waking up every morning with the goal to win for the first time a Slam,” said Monfils, who next plays Austrian fifth seed Dominic Thiem.

“I love to play big matches. I think it’s that that keeps the fire in me, keep myself on alert. And also still I have a strong belief I can make it,” he added.

No looking back for Rublev

Meanwhile, Rublev’s “amazing” unbeaten start to the season showed no signs of slowing, with the Russian young gun rallying from a set down to dump 11th seed David Goffin for the season’s first Major.

The 22-year-old extended his unbeaten streak to 11 games, beating the Belgian 2-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) to secure a place in the fourth round.

He will face either seventh seed Alexander Zverev or veteran Spaniard Fernando Verdasco next in a bid to make his first quarter-final at Melbourne Park.

The 17th seed said he was trying hard not to think about how many times he had won, but kept getting reminded about by the media.

Also read: Tsitsipas, Pliskova out, Federer still going strong in Australian Open

“To be honest, I was not even thinking about it, how many matches I win, how many matches I lose. It’s more in the media, they start saying, like, you win 10 matches. Then you start to think, wow, I won 10 matches,” he said.

“Of course, it’s amazing that I win that many matches in a row. But tennis is this kind of sport that every week is only going to be one winner. Most of the times you’re going to lose every week,” he added.

Rublev came into the Australian Open on the back of winning in Doha and Adelaide, earning him the distinction of being the first man since Dominik Hrbaty in 2004 to win two titles in the first fortnight of a season.

“Everything is great with confidence. Sometimes it’s not about confidence. When you feel the ball well, okay, it’s amazing. But you cannot control this. Maybe one day you play really good, then second day you’re not playing that good. Then is more about become mentality. The mental side is the most important thing in tennis,” he said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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