Have a hit with Kyrgios
Some lucky young fans had the chance to get up close and personal with Nick Kyrgios during his practice session!
1. Kyrgios loses the battle, but shines off court
Australia’s last remaining singles hope may have come up short to a red-hot Grigor Dimitrov on Sunday night, but oft-maligned Nick Kyrgios gave a glimpse of the real NK earlier in the day when he hit with nine-year-old leukaemia patient, Bella.
Organised via his charity, the NK Foundation, Kyrgios later posted: “This strong young girl has previously undergone two bone marrow transplants, and sadly relapsed again last year. I was so humbled to know that all she has asked for everyday since the Australian Open started was for her ball to be signed by me… today she got much more and I hope that it fills her with hope, strength and inspiration for the road ahead!”
Since forming the charity, the 22-year-old has spoken of feeling for the first time that there was a purpose for what he was doing. And that can only be positive, both on and off the court.
2. Dimitrov can weather an Aussie thunderstorm
Emerging victorious from the emotional rollercoaster that is a Kyrgios match before the combustible Canberran’s vocal home crowd, Dimitrov put in his most convincing performance of the season on Sunday night. This was prime-time, show-time tennis, and despite failing to serve out the second set and later faltering when serving for the match in the fourth, Dimitrov kept his emotions in check throughout. The Bulgarian third seed – who had survived a below-par five-set scare in the second round – arrived with a perfect 37-0 record in best-of-five matches after winning the opening two sets. He improved that unbeaten streak to 38. In a touching embrace at net between two good mates, Kyrgios left Dimitrov with some parting words of advice ahead of his quarterfinal with unseeded Kyle Edmund: “Believe, OK.”
3. Bring back the Scud
It’s 22 years since one of the greatest Australian Open boilovers, when a then 19-year-old Mark Philippoussis blasted world No.1 Pete Sampras off the court in the Australian Open third round. Winding back the clock in the legend’s doubles on Sunday, the Scud showed he’s still got it, with an extraordinary reflex behind-the-back winning volley. So good was it, he raced to shake the umpire’s hand and collected his bag to sign off. Scud, you can happily hang your racquet up for good after that.
4. Wozniacki blown away at career first
Second seed Caroline Wozniacki is sure making the most of her get-out-of-jail-free card. After somehow salvaging a comeback from 1-5 and two match points down against Jana Fett, the Dane was at her stingy best on Sunday, allowing Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova just three games in their fourth-round clash. It wasn’t the scoreline, though, that left Wozniacki gloating. It was a point lost in the fifth game of the opening set, where she successfully pulled off a tweener.
"I think you can tell my confidence is pretty good – I tried a tweener today and it actually went in," Wozniacki said. "If I may say so myself, I'm pretty proud of that."
Next hurdle in her bid for a maiden Grand Slam title is former top-tenner Carla Suarez Navarro, who beat Anett Kontaveit 8-6 in the deciding set of the opening match at Rod Laver Arena. But Caro won’t be thinking too much about that one just yet. Plenty of time still to soak up replays of that career-first trick shot in all its glory.
"I've made a few tweeners in practice, but never in a match," Wozniacki laughed. "Even in practice, sometimes I make a fool out of myself, so when that went in, I said, ‘OK, I'm done'."
5. First-time quarterfinalists slip under the radar
As third seed Dimitrov and slam champs Nadal and Marin Cilic punched their tickets to the last eight, a first-time men’s quarterfinalist was guaranteed when unheralded pair Edmund and Andreas Seppi locked horns out on Hisense Arena. The Johannesburg-born Brit continued to fly the flag in five-time finalist Andy Murray’s absence, seeing off the Italian in four. After knocking out US Open finalist Kevin Anderson in the opening round, upsetting the in-form Dimitrov will be a big step up.
A first-time quarterfinalist was also assured in the women’s draw on Sunday when Belgium’s Elise Mertens – in her main draw debut – took on unseeded Croatian Petra Martic. Channelling her mentor and 2011 Australian Open champion Kim Clijsters, the 37th-ranked Mertens delivered a straight-sets result to extend her Aussie winning streak to eight matches, following the successful defence of her Hobart title.