Dimitrov, Tsonga survive gruelling battles as Nadal cruises through
Grigor Dimitrov and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga each came through dramatic five-set contests to reach round three of the Australian Open men's singles, but there was a much less stressful outing for top seed Rafael Nadal on Wednesday.
Dimitrov was taken all the way by American qualifier Mackenzie McDonald on Rod Laver Arena, the world number three eventually prevailing 4-6 6-2 6-4 0-6 8-6.
Earlier, 2008 finalist Tsonga had appeared set to exit the tournament, only to recover from 5-2 down in the final set to win a thrilling battle with Denis Shapovalov.
Nadal's progress was far smoother as the Spaniard beat Leonardo Mayer 6-3 6-4 7-6 (7-4) to book a meeting with Damir Dzumhur.
There were also wins on Wednesday for the likes of Marin Cilic and Nick Kyrgios, while Ivo Karlovic overcame Yuichi Sugita 12-10 in the fifth set.
DIMITROV PREVAILS DESPITE BAGEL EMBARRASSMENT
A pumped-up McDonald thrilled the crowd on RLA with his energetic and powerful display against Dimitrov.
Many would have expected the inexperienced youngster to fade after he lost the third set from a break up, but McDonald duly raised his game to sensationally bagel the out-of-sorts Dimitrov and set up a decider.
With his forehand a consistently potent weapon, McDonald continued to impress in the final set, raising his arms triumphantly in appreciation of his growing fan club on more than one occasion.
Dimitrov ultimately progressed - his relief illustrated by an enormous roar when match point was converted - but McDonald could feel hugely proud of his performance.
In an on-court interview following his win, Dimitrov said: "He [McDonald] was playing unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable. He deserves a lot of credit.
NADAL CALLS FOR ROOF RELIEF
Temperatures are forecast to rise sharply on Australia's south-east coast over the next couple of days and Nadal has urged tournament organisers to make use of the three retractable roofs at Melbourne Park.
"I would not like to see retirements, conditions that create a bad show for the crowd," said the world number one.
"In the courts that we have the roof, why not put the roof when the conditions are so extreme?"
KYRGIOS EXCITED BY TSONGA TIE
A standout third-round match will see Tsonga take on Nick Kyrgios, who looked impressive once again in a 7-5 6-4 7-6 (7-2) win over Viktor Troicki.
Kyrgios grew up idolising Tsonga and the clash between the two promises to provide rich entertainment, not to mention plenty of high-quality action.
"It's going to be fun," said the Australian, who has yet to lose a match in 2018. "He's obviously a guy I looked up to growing up.
"It was just the way he played his game. I liked his aggressive style of tennis. He had a big serve, big forehand. He played an entertaining style.
"When I was 12, I went to all his practice sessions. He made the final in 2008, I think I was 12. I went to all his practice sessions with a new ball. He signed it every day. I don't know if he remembers."
RECOVERING MURRAY HEADS HOME
As the action continued at Melbourne Park, five-time finalist Andy Murray said farewell to Australia on Twitter as he prepared to fly home following his recent hip operation.
"Not the sort of trip I envisaged on the way over here," wrote Murray. "Was pumped to get back competing @AustralianOpen but ended up getting hip surgery and doing crosswords with my mum. Heading home positive about the future."
Not the sort of trip I envisaged on the way over here...was pumped to get back competing @AustralianOpen but ended up getting hip surgery and doing crosswords with my mum heading home positive about the future-- Andy Murray (@andy_murray) January 17, 2018