Aussies ousted on Day 6 at Wimbledon
There are no more Australians in the singles tournament at Wimbledon after the five in action on Saturday lost their third-round matches at the All England Club.
Nick Kyrgios’s straight-sets loss to Kei Nishikori late on Saturday means that no Australians remain in the singles events at Wimbledon.
Kyrgios fell to a 6-1 7-6(3) 6-4 defeat against 24th seed Nishikori as evening set in over No.1 Court.
Earlier, Ash Barty endured a “frustrating” day in losing to Daria Kasatkina in straight sets while Daria Gavrilova rued not going after her shots enough in a 6-3 6-1 loss to Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
Alex De Minaur made an impressive Centre Court debut but found world No.1 Rafael Nadal too strong, while Matt Ebden had chances but eventually fell in four sets to Frenchman Gilles Simon.
Kyrgios’s game was littered with errors as he lost the first set 6-1 in just 16 minutes and then fell behind an early break in the second.
“I was pretty uptight. A lot of nerves. I just struggled with a lot of things today. I just never settled,” Kyrgios admitted. “Obviously getting broken first game didn’t help me. I just kind of panicked. Everything kind of just went south, I guess.”
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He showed fight to break back in the fourth game of the second set and looked to be getting into a better rhythm, but Nishikori wasn’t making things easy, playing with controlled aggression and serving and returning dependably throughout the match.
From 3-3 in the tiebreak, Nishikori won four straight points – many off Kyrgios errors – to stretch his lead to two-sets-to-love, and broke Kyrgios in the final game to seal victory on his fourth match point in 97 minutes.
“He played well. I always find it tough playing him,” said Kyrgios, who fell to 0-4 in the head-to-head series against Nishikori.
“He returned really well. Most guys aren’t getting a racquet or putting balls back in off my serve most of the time. He was returning well.”
In the first match of the day on No.3, 17th seed Barty took on No.14 seed Kasatkina.
Barty had beaten Eugenie Bouchard in straight sets on the same court two days earlier and got off to another crisp start when she built a 4-1 lead and had a point to extend that margin to 5-1.
But as Kasatkina increasingly settled into the contest, Barty’s game unravelled.
“I got off to a good start without doing too much, and wasn’t able to run on with it,” Barty said.
“I knew enough going into the match of how I wanted to play her. I just hadn’t played her before. She’s a very talented, very crafty player. And very solid – makes you play a lot of balls and today I think I gave her way too many cheapies and way too many balls in the areas of the court that she wanted.”
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After losing six of the last seven games to surrender the first set, Barty fell behind an early break in the second.
Admirably, she broke back to lock up scores at 3-3, but didn’t win another game as the Russian youngster set up a fourth-round showdown with Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck.
“I felt like my slice wasn’t as effective as I wanted it to be – couldn’t put it in the positions of the court that I wanted to. It was just a generally pretty frustrating day,” Barty said.
“It’s pretty raw still. But look, it’s been a positive tour, positive season. It’s been a good season through both the clay and the grass. Probably the best, especially on the grass, but a really solid one on the clay as well.
“It’s certainly not the end of the world.”
Just after 1pm, in front of a Royal Box packed with dignitaries including tennis legends Rod Laver and Billie Jean King, Minaur strode out onto Centre Court for the first time, followed by world No.1 Nadal.
The Aussie was dwarfed by the Spaniard in terms of experience, age and physical presence, but he fought gamely before going down in straight sets.
“It was definitely something special, being able to play on Centre Court against Rafa, that’s something that I will remember forever,” the 19-year-old Aussie said.
“I think it’s all about just learning each day. So that’s a new experience for me, and I can’t wait for what’s next. That’s where I want to be, playing on big courts against big players.
“I’ve got to work harder, get better, and hopefully next time I get the same opportunity I can push him harder.”
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There were several times throughout the match that De Minaur did indeed push the two-time Wimbledon champion, including in the fourth game of the first set which lasted more than 10 minutes and featured some exciting rallies.
But when Nadal finally broke serve for a 3-1 lead, he dropped just two more games en route to establishing a two-sets-to-love lead.
“It’s just incredible his physicality. That’s probably what shocked me the most. First time I have been on a court with him and just his presence, as well,” De Minaur explained.
“Obviously you watch him on TV, and you can’t really appreciate how hard he hits every single ball and how much intensity and just brute force goes into every one of his ground strokes.”
“It took me a while to sort of really feel sort of try to work my way in there.”
The third set was tighter, and De Minaur event held a break point for 5-5 before the second seed closed out a 6-1 6-2 6-4 win in a touch over two hours.
“I started serving better as the match went on. I think that helped me stay in the match. I was able to get a couple of looks,” De Minaur said.
“Once you start the match, you’ve got obviously those nerves, and slowly you get rid of them, start pumping yourself up, getting fired up. I think by the end, you know, it was pretty close.”
At the same time as Barty was facing Kasatkina, Ebden had his hands full with French former world No.6 Simon.
This was the first time Ebden was appearing in the last 32 at a Grand Slam tournament and found the going tough initially when he was shut out of the opening set.
He worked his way into the match, however, and was twice just two points away from sending the match into a fifth set.
Yet when Simon managed to hold the net-rushing Ebden at bay and sent the fourth set to a tiebreak, he dominated, running out a 6-1 6-7(3) 6-3 7-6(2) winner.
“It was a tough match, for sure one I could have won. I’d beaten him the last two times, and would have liked to have definitely won today,” Ebden said.
“But he was very good, actually very tough the way he plays. He did what he does very very well. He made a lot of returns, he made hardly any unforced errors I think the whole match (Simon had 17, to Ebden’s 47). I could have probably served a little bigger, and little better.
“I’m sure tonight I’ll be pretty frustrated and disappointed and the next couple of days. But I have to try and be nice to myself, too, and realise that I’m improving. Things are going well.”
Simon faces fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro for a place in the quarterfinals.
Following Ebden on to Court 18 was Gavrilova, who admitted she didn’t have the best of days in a straight-sets loss to Sasnovich.
“I think mentally I wanted it too much, and I played scared. I didn’t go after my shots. Just next time I need to overcome that, because clearly playing scared doesn’t win you matches,” Gavrilova said after falling to the Belarusian.
“I was ready. I was hitting the ball great in the warm-ups. I had the same routine. But I don’t know. I just didn’t go after my shots on court. Wasn’t serving well. To be fair, I didn’t hit one shot clean (smiling). It wasn’t good.”
This was the first time the Melburnian had reached the last 32 at Wimbledon, after doing the same at Roland Garros – also a career-best result.
But a ratio of seven winners to 27 unforced errors ensured that she would not be advancing any further at the All England Club.
She was broken early in second set yet broke straight back, showing impressive fight against an in-form opponent. Yet Gavrilova didn’t win another game.
“She plays different. She was up for it. She uses all different shots. She’s got a great feel,” Gavrilova said. “But I expected that. She just took it, and I was trying to play safe.
“(But) actually I’m really motivated. I’m looking forward to the hard court season. And, yeah, just making third round for the first time at the French and here, it’s a good step forward.”