Medvedev, Thiem, Zverev, Kerber advance at Australian Open

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A red hue came over Day 4 at the Australian Open.

A bloody nose. And a two-time French Open finalist going five sets against a Bolt from Down Under on an indoor court at Melbourne Park after damp red dust delayed play on some outside courts following overnight rain.

Fourth-seeded Daniil Medvedev needed a medical timeout for a nose bleed before beating Spanish qualifier Pedro Martinez 7-5, 6-1, 6-3 on Thursday to reach the third round of the season’s first major.

No. 5 Dominic Thiem, who excels on the red Roland Garros clay, handled a partisan crowd before breaking local wild-card entry Alex Boult’s serve in the third game of the fifth set and advanced to the third round with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-2 win.

No. 7 Alexander Zverev, who has pledged “every cent” of his prize money to the bush fire relief effort if he wins his first major title this year in Australia, advanced about the same time with a 7-6 (5), 6-4, 7-5 win over Egor Gerasimov.

Zverev, who won the ATP Finals two years ago, has pledged $10,000 for every match he wins at the very least. And that gives him top billing in the day session on center court.

A rain front that lashed Melbourne overnight crossed through a dust storm from the northwest along the way, leaving a red tinge across the city and turning the Yarra River a murky brown and causing yet another freakish weather disruption to the tournament.

Rain on three of the first four days has caused disruptions for players and organizers, little more than a week after smoke from bush fires caused air quality in Melbourne to be ranked among the worst in the world.

On the three courts with retractable roofs, it was business as usual. On Margaret Court Arena, 2016 champion Angelique Kerber beat Priscilla Hon 6-3, 6-2 to complete a day session schedule that started with sixth-seeded Belinda Bencic’s 7-5, 7-5 win over 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

On Rod Laver Arena, second-seeded Karolina Pliskova, a semifinalist here last year, advanced 6-3, 6-3 over Laura Siegemund following two-time major winner Garbine Muguruza’s 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win over Ajla Tomljanovic.

Medvedev, the U.S. Open finalist, was leading 5-0 in the second set when he called the trainer to help stem the blood from his nose. He said it happens to him sometimes, he wasn’t bothered too much and confirmed it wasn’t related to tension.

“No, no, not at all. If it would be, I would be bleeding every match I play,” he said, smiling.

Medvedev said shifting from outdoor conditions to indoors helped him against Martinez.

“Yeah, of course it changes a lot, even like it was gray when we stepped on the court. We just played one game on the, let’s say, outdoor court,” he said. “As soon as the roof is closed, everything is different. It gets more hot, more humid inside. The ball goes faster.”

Medvedev will play an Australian next after Alexei Popyrin beat Jaume Munar 6-2, 7-6 (5), 6-2.

In other matches, 10th-seeded Gael Monfils beat Ivo Karlovic 4-6, 7-6 (8), 6-4, 7-5 and 19th-seeded John Isner beat qualifier Alejandro Tabilo 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.

Bencic said she was happy to get her match out of the way early.

“I didn’t know the courts were, like, wet and dirty and all that,” Bencic said. “But for sure it was difficult today. It was sometimes sunny and then suddenly was almost raining. Then windy. Yeah, you just kind of have to accept it and go with it and try your best.”

Melbourne Park staff used high-pressure hoses to clean court surfaces. Light rain became heavy, forcing the suspension of play on outside courts until the sun came out in the mid-afternoon. Among the big winners was CiCi Bellis, the 20-year-old Californian who is ranked 600th following four surgeries on her arm.

Bellis upset No. 20-seeded Karolina Muchova. No. 9-seeded Kiki Bertens beat Australian wild-card entry Arina Rodionova 6-3, 7-5, No. 16 Elise Mertens beat Heather Watson and No. 19 Donna Vekic had a 6-4, 6-2 win over Alize Cornet.

Organizers were again forced to postpone matches because of the weather, rescheduling seven women’s and six men’s first-round doubles matches to Friday.

Bureau of Meteorology senior meteorologist Richard Carlyon told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. the brown rain was the result of the rain front moving through a dust storm northwest of Melbourne, and not from bushfire smoke.

Tiafoe beats Tsitsipas to give Team World 1st Laver Cup win

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LONDON — Frances Tiafoe staved off four match points to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 1-6, 7-6 (11), 10-8 and clinch victory in the Laver Cup for Team World over Roger Federer’s Team Europe for the first time.

Tiafoe, a 24-year-old American, performed with the same crunch-time success and wide-smiling showmanship he displayed en route to his first Grand Slam semifinal at the U.S. Open this month.

The victory over 2021 French Open runner-up Tsitsipas allowed the group of 20-somethings on Team World to go up 13-8 in the three-day competition against Team Europe, which in addition to Federer – the 20-time major champion who just retired – featured Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

Djokovic had wins in singles and doubles to put Team Europe up 8-4. The last day’s matches were worth three points each, with the first squad to 13 earning the trophy named for Rod Laver, the only man to win the calendar-year Grand Slam twice.

Team World took the lead on the final day at the O2 Arena, thanks to a pair of victories by Felix Auger-Aliassime, a 22-year-old from Canada. He defeated 21-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic 6-3, 7-6 (3), after partnering with Jack Sock to edge Murray and Matteo Berrettini 2-6, 6-3, 10-8 in doubles.

Team Europe came into the week having won all four previous editions of the Laver Cup, which was founded by Federer’s management company.

This one served as a celebration of the 41-year-old Swiss star’s career. His final match before retirement came when he and Nadal lost in doubles to Tiafoe and Sock.

Tiafoe was a single point from losing to Tsitsipas four times in their second-set tiebreaker. On the first, at 6-5, Tsitsipas netted a forehand to close a 22-stroke exchange. Tiafoe erased the second, at 9-8, with a volley winner. And Tsitsipas sailed backhands long on each of his last two chances to close it out, at 10-9 and 11-10.

Tiafoe went a record 8-0 in tiebreakers at Flushing Meadows this month and was just as resilient in the big moments this time. When Tsitsipas put a forehand into the net to end the match – and the competition – Tiafoe dropped his racket, then fell to his back on the court, where his teammates piled on top of him.

Sonego beats Bublik at Moselle Open to win 1st title of 2022

Winston-Salem Open - Day 5
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METZ, France – Lorenzo Sonego clinched his first title of the season by beating Alexander Bublik 7-6 (3), 6-2 in the Moselle Open final.

The 27-year-old Italian did not drop a set all tournament as he won the third title of his career and first on hard courts.

The unseeded Sonego recovered from 0-40 down in the fifth game of the match and secured victory when the seventh-seeded Bublik sent a backhand return long.

He then danced on court as he celebrated a perfect tournament where he also beat defending champion Hubert Hurkacz in the semifinals.

Sonego’s win will move him up 21 places in the ATP rankings and into 44th place.