Australian Open day four: British singles hopes over while Nadal marches on
British interest in singles at the Australian Open ended with defeats for Heather Watson and Harriet Dart.
Dart can take great encouragement from pushing Wimbledon champion Simona Halep but Watson succumbed meekly to 16th seed Elise Mertens.
Nick Kyrgios and Rafael Nadal stayed on course for a blockbuster fourth-round meeting while Daniil Medvedev and Karolina Pliskova also won.
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Scaling the heights
Tennis players as a whole are becoming more adventurous in their off-season travels, and none more so than Garbine Muguruza, who climbed the highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro.
Asked about the experience, the Spaniard said: “It was incredible. I wanted a challenge outside of tennis and I’ve never done anything like it.
“I said, ‘all right, I’m going to Africa and I’m going to climb this mountain and we’ll see if I come back’. I do not recommend it unless you are stubborn like me but it was an incredible experience.”
Mixing it up
The release of the mixed doubles draw showed some interesting partnerships, not least Venus Williams linking up with top-ranked doubles star Juan Sebastian Cabal. It will be the first time Williams has played in the mixed doubles in Melbourne since she won the title with Justin Gimelstob in 1998.
The other standout pairing is Nick Kyrgios teaming up with 18-year-old Amanda Anisimova. Kyrgios said: “I’ve been excited for this for like a month-and-a-half. I’m like a little kid at the moment.”
Women: Karolina Muchova (20), Danielle Collins (26)
Men: Nikoloz Basilashvili (26)
Who’s up next?
Star billing on Saturday goes to the third-round clash between defending champion Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff in the night session on Rod Laver Arena.
Roger Federer takes on popular Australian John Millman, who he lost to at the US Open in 2018, while Novak Djokovic meets Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka.
Top seed Ashleigh Barty could be tested by in-form Elena Rybakina, Serena Williams faces Wang Qiang and Caroline Wozniacki will hope to avoid being sent into retirement by Ons Jabeur.