Melbourne | Timofeeva stuns Haddad Maia, while Krejcikova weathers Storm Hunter

The night matches on Friday at the Australian Open produced a great deal of drama, compensating for several of the day matches that had appeared somewhat pedestrian, and it was Russian qualifier Maria Timofeeva and 9th seed Barbora Krejcikova who emerged from tight battles to head into the second week.

Beatriz was handling the pressure of the match points really well. She was playing very solid. I was praying to the tennis Gods to help me. Maria Timofeeva

20-year-old Timofeeva stunned 10th-seeded Beatriz Haddad Maia, 7-6(7) 6-3, on Margaret Court Arena, while Krejcikova clawed her way past home favourite to weather Storm Hunter, 4-6 7-5 6-3, on Rod Laver Arena.

Timofeeva came through 3 rounds of qualifying and had got past the experienced Frenchwoman Alizé Cornet and 2018 champion Caroline Wozniacki in her opening 2 rounds before upsetting the Brazilian after a 2 hour 9 minute tussle.

“The matches against Alizé, also the three matches in the qualifying, they gave me some confidence obviously,” she said. “Also, playing on the big courts. I got a chance to play on the big courts already in the qualifying because I was playing against Australian players [Astra Sharma and Priscilla Hon].

“I think that was also one of the key moments because I was getting used to the stage, to the crowd, and had less pressure in matches today with Beatriz or the day before with Caroline.”

After a slow start, Timofeeva bounced back from a 0-3 first-set deficit to edge the opener, saving a set point, and advancing to 5-1 in the second.

Her well-rounded all-court game was in full flow and her smart shot selection and confident execution kept her a step ahead of Haddad Maia, particularly in rattling off a series of backhand scorchers down the line in the second set.

“I’m still curious how far it will go,” Timofeeva told reporters as she prepares to face Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk. “Just now I know what I’m capable of, that I can compete with these girls.

“And I was just curious to see if it’s possible or not, like should we work on something? Of course there’s something to work on. That’s always [there].

“Now I’m just a bit more confident in my powers and we will see what it will bring us.”

Ranked 170, Timofeeva’s dream run continued after triumphing in a 16-shot exchange to convert her 5th match point and seal her first win over a Top 20 player.

Timofeeva is playing some of her best tennis in Melbourne, but faces a tricky test against Kostyuk after the Ukrainian beat another Russian, Elina Avanesyan, 2-6 6-4 6-4, in a contest that lasted 2 hours 32 minutes and had political undertones.

The 21-year-old come-back win from a set down booked her place in the 4th round for the first time, bettering her previous best result reaching the 3rd-round in 2018, 2022 and 2023.

Timofeeva may not get a handshake from Kostyuk following their match, but is keen to finally face her.

“Marta’s just a year older than me,” Timofeeva said. “But we didn’t cross paths in juniors because she started to play well in the professional tour much faster. She was already, I think, rocking the WTA since she was 16 years old.

“That’s great. I came a bit later there. I saw today a bit of her match, because she was playing against my friend. She’s looking solid, so we’ll see.

“It’s going to be an interesting match, for sure.”

Despite a late surge, Beatriz Haddad Maia had no lasting response to Maria Timofeeva's all-round game

© Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

On Friday, though, Haddad Maia started the match as the dominant force, winning the first 8 points and breaking the Russian.

When the left-handed Brazilian served again, she took a 3-0 lead and won 12 points against just 2 from the Russian, who already had made 6 unforced errors.

Haddad Maia, though, seemingly in control, started to make errors, lost her serve and saw the Russian level the score at 3-3.

Timofeeva gained confidence, and began to move the Brazilian from one side of the court to the other, as the errors leaked from the Brazilian’s racket, and the set edged its way to the breaker.

Haddad Maia hit a great forehand down the line and opened up a 4-1 lead before Timofeeva recovered and forced the Brazilian into more mistakes, levelling the score at 5-5.

The Russian carved out a set point when Haddad Maia played a backhand into the net, but then struck a ball long for 6-6.

It was the Brazilian’s turn to bring up a set point of her own with a rare scramble to the net, but she too missed her chance when she fluffed a forehand.

A missed a backhand and a double-fault followed, handing the set to Timofeeva.

Leading now by a set and 5-1, Timofeeva struggled to get over the line as Haddad Maia began to claw her way back before eventually finishing it off on her 5th match point.

“Beatriz was handling the pressure of the match points really well,” admitted Timofeeva, who is the lowest-ranked player to reach the 4th-round of the women’s draw since 2017. “She was playing very solid. I was praying to the tennis Gods to help me.”

Her next opponent, Kostyuk, extended her special relationship with the Australian Open when she battled past Avanesyan in 3 sets at 1573 Arena.

The World No 37 from Ukraine was a point away from losing to Belgian Elise Mertens in the previous round, and needed those same battling qualities to survive in just over two-and-a-half hours.

It is the second time the 21-year-old has reached the 4th-round at a major after her run in Paris in 2021.

“It was a very, very mental match today,” said Kostyuk, who won the girls’ singles in Melbourne in 2017, and, 12 months later, reached the 3rd-round of the women’s draw as a 15-year-old. “She was closer than I thought to the win. I really grabbed it out of her hands.”

After her upset over 25th seed Elise Mertens in the 2nd-round, the Kyiv native admitted she had to manage her emotions throughout a match she felt she was the favourite to win.

“I wish I played more aggressive today, but the pressure was there because I wasn’t an underdog player like against Elise, and I didn’t know what to expect. It was not easy.”

Barbora Krejcikova came from a set down to battle past home favourite Storm Hunter late on Friday night

© Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

There was a chance there would be two qualifiers into the 4th-round when Aussie Storm Hunter took on Krejcikova, the 9th-seeded Czech, under the lights at Rod Laver Arena.

And for a while it looked like the 29-year-old World No180 from Rockhampton, Laver’s home town, might send the locals into the night happy.

Hunter, who is the doubles World No 1, took the first set and had chances to break late in the second, only for the former Roland Garros champion to raise her game just in time.

Krejcikova eventually made sure of her 4th-round berth against teenager Mirra Andreeva with a 4-6 7-5 6-3 win that ended past midnight.

The No 9 seed had brought an end to the thoroughly impressive and spirited run by the home hope, who had to come through 3 rounds of qualifying in order to reach the main draw.

Hunter progressed to the 3rd-round for the first time in her career and fought admirably against the former Grand Slam champion, with Krejcikova looking in real trouble after the loss of the first set, and a very tight second.

In the end, the Czech’s experience shone through and she was able to oust the Aussie in 3 sets to survive a huge scare after two-and-a-half hours.

“Definitely very, very difficult match. Storm played really well. She’s doing great, she had a great run,” Krejcikova said after the win. “I just go point by point, because everything can change in one second. It’s tennis, and every ball counts.”

Krejcikova goes on to face 16-year old Mirra Andreeva next, after the Russian made a stunning come-back of her own against France’s Diane Parry, 1-6 6-1 7-6[5], earlier in the day.

Storm Hunter came through qualifying to reach the 3rd-round and had chances to advance further against Barbora Krejcikova

© William West/AFP via Getty Images



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