De Minaur sets Nadal clash. Khachanov and Dimitrov win

De Minaur sets Nadal clash. Khachanov and Dimitrov win

The 19-year-old Alex de Minaur has had a busy schedule since the start of the season and he is the player with the most wins on the Tour in 2019, adding another one to his tally after a thrilling clash at Margaret Court Arena on Wednesday night.

The top-ranked Australian player needed three hours and 52 minutes to beat the Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 4-6, 6-3 and reach the third round at the third consecutive Grand Slam event! Making his first appearance in the main draw in Melbourne, Henri did his best to perform a great comeback and extend the match as long as possible, fighting for every point before he had to lay down the weapons and end his run in the second round.

De Minaur won 11 points more than his rival but he had to dig deep to earn the win and the clash against Rafael Nadal, despite the fact he got broken just four times in almost four hours. Laaksonen outplayed de Minaur in the rallies, hitting 40 winners more than the home favorite but also nearly 90 unforced errors, unable to stay on the positive side of the scoreboard in the deciding set after 3-3.

De Minaur showed his skills in the very first game when he broke Laaksonen, retaining the lead in the rest of the set and closing it with a service winner in game 10 for a 6-4. The Swiss fired a forehand long in the fifth game of the second set to suffer another break and the pumped Aussie went 5-2 up with a forehand down the line winner before clinching the set with a service winner in game eight for a huge lead.

Henri bounced back in set number three, opening a 4-1 advantage and recovering after de Minaur pulled the break back to reach the tie break. Alex wasted a match point at 7-6, losing the next two points on serve and also the set after some powerful hitting from Laaksonen who was now back in the match.

The Swiss grabbed the fourth set with two breaks, firing a forehand winner at 5-4 to send the encounter into a decider where he fought well until 3-3. Just like many times before, de Minaur refused to surrender and he forced an error from the Swiss in game eight before crossing the finish line with a hold in the following game that secured one of his best wins in a career so far.

The 22-year-old Russian Karen Khachanov is through to the fourth consecutive Grand Slam third round and the first in Australia thanks to a balanced 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 win over Yoshihito Nishioka in two hours and two minutes.

Karen fired 16 aces and he was the dominant figure in the return games, stealing half of the points in Nishioka’s games to stay ahead all the time if we exclude a short period at the start of the second set. Paris Masters champion found the range in his games after the very first shot and he played with a lot of confidence after opening the match with a break at love.

Yoshihito had to work hard to remain within one break deficit before getting broken again at 3-5 to hand the set to his opponent. The Japanese broke at love with a forehand winner in the third game of the second set, staying ahead until game six when Karen showed his mighty forehand to pull the break back, saving five break points in the next game to remain on the positive side of the scoreboard.

Nishioka netted a forehand in game eight to lose serve and Karen moved two sets to love up with an ace in game nine that pushed him closer to the finish line. Three breaks of serve in the third set propelled Khachanov into the next round where he will face the 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut.

Two days after beating Andy Murray in a thriller, the Spaniard had to play another exhausting match against Joh Millman, prevailing 6-3, 6-1, 3-6, 6-7, 6-4 in three hours and 48 minutes. Roberto wasted four match points at 6-2 in the fourth set tie break, giving his rival an enormous boost but playing in the decider like that didn’t happen, serving well and clinching the win with a single break.

The giant server Reilly Opelka hit 67 aces (the second at Australian Open ever) in a 6-7, 6-2, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 loss to Thomas Fabbiano who will play in the third round in Melbourne for the first time. Second round results:

Taylor Fritz (USA) vs [30]Gael Monfils (FRA) 6-3 6-7(8) 7-6(6) 7-6(5)
[10]Karen Khachanov (RUS) vs Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) 6-3 6-3 6-3
Thomas Fabbiano (ITA) vs Reilly Opelka (USA) 6-7(15) 6-2 6-4 3-6(10-5)
[22]Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) vs John Millman (AUS) 6-3 6-1 3-6 6-7(6) 6-4
[20]Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) vs Pablo Cuevas (URU) 6-3 6-7(5) 6-3 7-5
[27]Alex de Minaur (AUS) vs [Q]Henri Laaksonen (SUI) 6-4 6-2 6-7(7) 4-6 6-3


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