No fans as Elina Svitolina advances at Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia — The rally lasted 41 shots, with the players trading baseline groundstrokes for more than a minute, and when it ended, one person applauded.

The atmosphere was different for the sixth day of play at the Australian Open, with no fans to cheer for No. 5-seeded Elina Svitolina as she advanced to the fourth round by beating No. 26 Yulia Putintseva, 6-4, 6-0.

Svitolina won their marathon rally early in the second set, and the majority of points after that. There was no crowd due to the start of a five-day lockdown imposed by the Victoria state government in response to a COVID-19 outbreak at a hotel.

Up to 30,000 fans daily – 50% of capacity – had been admitted on previous days.

Svitolina, a tour veteran from Ukraine who has won 66 Grand Slam matches, needs one more win to match her best showing in Melbourne. She was a semifinalist at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2019.

Top-seeded Ash Barty of Australia was to play a night match Saturday against No. 29 Ekaterina Alexandrova. Three American women were on the schedule – No. 22 Jennifer Brady and two unseeded players, Jessica Pegula and Shelby Rogers.

No. 2-seeded Rafael Nadal was to continue his quest for a men’s-record 21st major title Saturday night against Cameron Norrie. Other men in third-round action included No. 4 Daniil Medvedev, No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas, No. 7 Andrey Rublev, No. 9 Matteo Berrettini and the last American on the men’s side, unseeded Mackenzie McDonald.