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Naomi Osaka eliminated from the Australian Open

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Naomi Osaka eliminated from the Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Defending champion Naomi Osaka sat out a highly anticipated fourth-round match against top-ranked Ash Barty at the Australian Open.

Amanda Anisimova, a 20-year-old American ranked 60th in the world, assured the so-called final before the final would not happen when she beat the four-time major champion 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5 ) Friday.

“I knew I had to play hard if I wanted to give myself a chance,” said Anisimova, who knocked out Olympic champion Belinda Bencic in the second round and went on to represent the 2021 Australian Open champion.

After losing the first set, Anisimova knew she had to become more aggressive or she would be kicked out of the tournament.

It worked.

Anisimova saved two match points in the third set, serving to stay in the match, and finished it with an ace. She hit 46 winners to Osaka’s 21.

After winning the title last year – her second at Melbourne Park in three years – Osaka pulled out of the French Open in the second round and skipped Wimbledon as she took a mental health break. After a third-round loss at the US Open, she took a long layoff to reset herself and arrived at the first major of the year with a No. 13 seed.

Barty advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 win over 30th-seeded Camila Giorgi at Rod Laver Arena, with the game starting later and ending earlier than the Osaka-Anisimova game at nearby Margaret Court Arena .

Barty conceded just eight games and spent less than three hours on the pitch in the first three rounds at Melbourne Park. The Wimbledon champion and 2019 French Open winner is aiming to be the first Australian woman to win her championship on home soil since 1978.

Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka edged 15th seed Elina Svitolina 6-0, 6-2 to reach the fourth round at Melbourne Park for the first time since 2016.

Before she had a chance to analyze the two players she might meet next, her son was asked about the third-round performance of the two-time Australian Open champion.

Five-year-old Leo, wearing his sunglasses in the press conference room and sitting on his mother’s lap, replied succinctly, “Awesome!”

Azarenka thanked her son, then listed the positives from her perspective. These included: “The amount of aggression I could bring point after point, applying a lot of pressure, consistency. Take control of my side of the field.

She will next face French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, who rallied after a set and loss to 26th-seeded Jelena Ostapenko to win 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Since a quarter-final in Australia in 2016, Azarenka has lost first-round matches last year and in 2019, and missed the hard-court tournament in 2017, 2018 and 2020.

The 32-year-old former Belarusian No.1 feels comfortable at the moment, fulfilling the dual role of player and mother in Melbourne.

“I still feel privileged to be able to have him here,” Azarenka said. “These kinds of moments are really priceless to me. To be able to share that with my son is pretty amazing.

Fourth-round pairings that were set up Friday include fifth seed Maria Sakkari against 21st seed Jessica Pegula and No. 8 Paula Badosa against Madison Keys, who held off Wang Qiang 4-6, 6 -3, 7-6 (2) Friday.

On the men’s side, Olympic gold medalist Alexander Zverev cruised to a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over 124th-ranked Moldova qualifier Radu Albot to set up a fourth-round match against Denis Shapovalov.

14th seed Shapovalov beat 23rd seeded Reilly Opelka 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini held off 18-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz 6-2, 7-6(3), 4-6, 2-6, 7-6(5).

Miomir Kecmanovic continued to make the most of fellow Serbian Novak Djokovic’s absence, reaching the fourth round of a major tournament for the first time with a 6-4, 6-7(8), 6- 2, 7-5 over the 25th seeded Lorenzo Sonego.

He will next face 17th-seeded Gael Monfils, who beat No.16 Cristian Garin 7-6(4), 6-1, 6-3.

Kecmanovic had been drawn to face top-ranked, nine-time Australian Open champion Djokovic in the first round. But Djokovic was sent off on the eve of the tournament for failing to comply with Australia’s strict COVID-19 regulations.

Rafael Nadal was playing a late match against No. 28 Karen Khachanov., aiming to continue his bid for a record 21st Grand Slam title.

Naomi Osaka eliminated from the Australian Open

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