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Draws open up with surprise losses

In what has proved to be a dramatic end to the first week at the Australian Open, a number of players will be viewing both singles draws with a certain amount of incredulity following the eradication of both top seeds and world number ones from the listings.

Honestly there were a few points where I don't know how I pulled it off!"

It leaves the likes of Roger Federer believing he could well secure his 18th Grand Slam title and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga hoping he could now go one better than his final appearance of 2008, while Stan Wawrinka is no doubt imagining collecting his second Melbourne title to add to the one he won in 2014.

The menŠ—Ès draw has certainly opened up with the top half of the draw reaching the quarter-final stage where Mischa Zverev, world ranked 50 and elder brother of Alexander, produced the upset of the day if not the tournament when he pulled off a dramatic win over Andy Murray, the top seed and world number one who had become the clear favourite for the title when Novak Djkokovic, the defending champion, was eliminated two rounds earlier.

Zverev produced an exceptional serve and volley game which completely threw the Briton who despite some excellent defensive play, was never able to stem the onslaught coming from the German 29-year-old, eventually having to accept a defeat 7-5 5-7 6-2 6-4.

It’s the first time since 2002 that the top two seeds haven’t featured in the last eight at the Aussie Open and the first time at a Grand Slam since the French Open in 2004. It was also the earliest exit by a top-seeded player at the Australian Open since Lleyton Hewitt’s fourth-round departure in 2003.

"Right now I’m down," Murray said. "But I’ve had tough losses before and come back from them."

It was ZverevŠ—Ès day, of that there can be no doubt. He won 65 of 118 points at the net, producing some stunning volleys, most especially at crucial moments. He never let up and matched Murray in fitness terms and in the end, could not quite believe what he had pulled off.

"Honestly, I don’t know, it was like I was in a little coma, I just served and volleyed my way through. Honestly there were a few points where I don’t know how I pulled it off!"

Murray also couldnŠ—Èt really believe ZverevŠ—Ès play.

"I mean, he came up with some great pickups, you know, reflex volleys especially at the end when it was tight. He served very well when he needed to … he deserved to win because he played great when he was down, and also in the important moments."

The German now meets Roger Federer who was pushed hard by the fifth seeded Kei Nishikori before completing a 6-7(4) 6-4 6-1 4-6 6-3 victory to secure his place in the quarters. He had produced a master class when he beat Tomas Berdych in the previous round but on this occasion, while there were flashes of brilliance, the Japanese No1 gave the 35-year-old a serious work-out before tiring and capitulating in the fifth.

Meanwhile US Open champion Stan Wawrinka also received a good work-out before dispatching Andreas Seppi 7-6(2) 7-6(4) 7-6(4) and will play a quarterfinal against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who recovered from the loss of the opening set to power his way to a 6-7(4) 6-2 6-4 6-4 victory over Dan Evans.


Wandeweghe shakes hands with Kerber following her win

Image © Getty Images

It was a similar scenario in the womenŠ—Ès draw where Angelique Kerber, the defending champion, top seed and world number one, was summarily dispatched in 69-minutes by unseeded American Coco Vanderweghe 6-2 6-3.

The American hit 30 winners past a frustrated German who could only fire seven in reply.

"It’s really special to play a number one player in the world on any stage. I believe its my first number one win so I’ll take that," Vandeweghe said in her courtside interview.

"Last year I came here and I didn’t even win a match and here I am now."

Vandeweghe’s win advances her to just a second career slam quarter-final, where she will play Spanish seventh seed Garbine Muguruza who eased past Sorana Cristea 6-2 6-3.

Vanderweghe always displays a lot of confidence as she struts around the court, while often smiling at her mistakes, but it apparently belies her true feelings.

"I faked it a lot because I was feeling like crap out there," she said. "What do they say, ‘fake it until you make it’?

"When you play tough players, like you will in later rounds of tournaments, you can’t be showing you’re struggling or not confident."

Kerber’s loss could mean that if Serena Williams goes all the way next week, she will lose her No1 crown.

In other fourth round matches, Venus Williams maintained her good form to defeat Mona Barthel 6-3 7-5 but doesnŠ—Èt believe she will be contesting the title with her younger sister on Saturday.

"That could hopefully happen," the 36-year-old Williams said when quizzed about the possibility. "We both still have to work very hard to get there.

"Today I played a qualifier, and she hardly ever missed. So it doesn’t matter who you come up against, they are coming and they want to win, too. They have nothing to lose.

"I’m going to be focused on winning one round at a time and focus on doing what it takes to be there."

She next faces Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who ousted the eighth seed, Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3 6-3.





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