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Stan down, Kvitova crashes in second-round stunners

  • Dan Imhoff

Former champion Stan Wawrinka’s Australian Open campaign is over at the second hurdle with the Swiss failing to convert three match points in a five-set loss to Hungarian Marton Fucsovics on Wednesday.

After conceding the opening two sets to the world No.55, the 17th seed stormed back and stood on the cusp of a remarkable comeback, only to capitulate with the match on his racquet 7-5 6-1 4-6 2-6 7-6(9).

SCOREBOARD: M Fucsovics d S Wawrinka

Fucsovics looked to have let the match slip when as he attempted to serve it out at 5-3 in the fifth.

The Hungarian dumped a smash into the net to hand Wawrinka only his sixth break point and surrendered serve when he pushed a forehand long.

The crowd on John Cain Arena rallied behind Wawrinka, the AO2014 champion, and he rode the momentum to a 6-1 lead in the tie-break.

Triple match point arrived at 9-6, and the Swiss was left to rue a tentative shift as Fucsovics reeled off the last five points to snatch his second win from their five showdowns.

F_Fucsovics_day 3_10022021_06
Marton Fucsovics collapses in triumph after a famous win over Stan Wawrinka

“Tough match of course, five sets, four hours. Always a difficult battle against my opponent that we play fair few times in the past, always a really tough match,” Wawrinka said.

“Today was the same. Not the best level for me, but again, I was fighting, I had some chances to finish the match … I was playing well since the game at 5-6, serving back big shots really well. I was super focused in the tie-break at the end.

“From 6-1 I started to hesitate a little bit the way I was playing. I wanted to put the ball maybe too much in and I'm not going completely for my shots and that's when I started to miss a little bit and it helped him to come back in the match.

“He was fighting well, he's a tough player, he's a good player and he deserved to win.”

Fucsovics had lost three prior hard-court showdowns with the former world No.3 and knew his opponent would not go lightly after he had dropped the opening two sets.

As Wawrinka bludgeoned his way back, the pressure began to shift the Hungarian’s way.

A third-round berth would require his second five-set victory from as many matches, following his triumph over Australian Marc Polmans on Day 1.

“Right now I feel like I’m dying. I played two five-setters, today’s very hot but I’m very happy to be in the third round,” Fucsovics said after sealing the result in four hours.

“It was a long match. I knew that he was going to come back after the second set. He’s a very strong player mentally and physically. He’s won three Grand Slams so a great player.

“But in the fifth set I came back with a different mentality, came back very strong, tried to be more active with my feet, come to net, finish the points. I was very strong mentally, that was most important.”

Problems for Petra as Romanian too strong

Dual Grand Slam champion Petra Kvitova earlier crashed out in the second round in a three-set defeat to Sorana Cirstea.

The ninth seed looked in control of the pair’s eighth clash after she thundered back to level the match, but faded fast to bow out 6-4 1-6 6-1 on the hottest day yet of AO2021.

SCOREBOARD: S Cirstea d P Kvitova

A three-set runner-up to Naomi Osaka at AO2019, Kvitova had claimed five of seven prior meetings with Cirstea, but they had not crossed paths in more than five years.

Despite sitting out a 15-day hard lockdown, the 68th-ranked Romanian had matches under her belt having denied Belinda Bencic on her way to a quarterfinal showing at last week’s Grampians Trophy.

A routine first-round triumph over compatriot Patricia Maria Tig proved enough to steel her for a late rallying Kvitova on Wednesday.

“It took me a while to adjust to the game, but once I was in I felt that I can beat her and felt confident,” Cirstea said. 

F_Cirstea_day 3_10022021_03
Sorana Cirstea had a day to remember, beating Petra Kvitova

“I think in the second set she stepped up a bit and I backed off. I think today was a matter of who took control of the point. I think in the second set I played too defensive, but once that was over I tried to get back closer to the line to try to dictate the point and it worked.”

Kvitova admitted a topsy-turvy first set was pivotal, particularly on a 31-degree day.

“It was quite a rollercoaster, for sure,” she said. 

“Unfortunately I couldn't take the chances to win the first set. I think that was really the key of the match … She really had a great day today, she played a good game.

“I didn't really bring the best tennis today. It's really hurting.”