Australian Open News: Williams, Osaka Out on Manic Friday

The first Grand Slam of the year has started on a note that has taken many by surprise. From playing under grueling conditions to the emerging force of youngsters on the tour, the Happy Slam hasn’t been that happy for many players.

The Mighty Have Fallen

Right off the bat, former World No. 1 and 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams fell to Wang Qiang of China in three sets. This was undoubtedly the biggest upset of the day, and most surprising one for that matter. Just last year in the US Open quarterfinal, Williams dispatched Wang with 6-1, 6-0 in just 44 minutes. This time around however, the Chinese was a prepared and she managed to exact her sweet revenge.

In a match that lasted for well over 2 hours and 30 minutes, the two players battled it out for three sets. Ultimately, Wang got her well-deserved victory with 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-5. She was superior to Williams in every aspect, including the unforced errors count – 25 for her in comparison to the American’s 43.

Williams’ close friend Caroline Wozniacki bowed out of the Australian Open as well. In what was the last match of her career, she big farewell to professional tennis with a three-set loss. Playing Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, the Dane fell to her in three sets, not by the virtue of her unforced errors, but owing to fairly low aggression. The end score was 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 for Jabeur, as she breezed into the second week of the Slam.

                                                     Wozniacki and Williams fell to the underdogs in Melbourne on Friday

The fifth day of the tournament also saw the defending champion  Naomi Osaka succumb to the American teen sensation Cori Gauff with 6-3, 6-4. It many not be all that surprising, considering that Gauff knocked out Venus Williams in the opener in straight sets. Clearly, the 15-year-old is proving herself to be a remarkable force, and is possibly a prodigy in the making.

All of these upsets definitely change the betting odds for the Australian Open, as punters rush to bank on the unpredictability of the tournament. Petra Kvitova and Ashleigh Barty are the only two seeds remaining in the top half of the bracket. The duo are on a collision course to meet in the quarterfinal.

Tsitsipas Out in the Men’s Half

In the men’s bracket, Novak Djokovic continued his trailblazing run as he dispatched Yoshihito Nishioka in straight sets. However, the biggest upset of the day was the exit of the Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas, who fell to the former Canadian No. 1 Milos Raonic in straight sets.

Similarly, Marin Cilic also rediscovered his groove in Melbourne.  The Croatian moved past a very determined Roberto Bautista Agut with 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-0, 5-7, 6-3 to book his sport in the second week. Cilic and Raonic, both former top 10 players, haven’t had the best of the time on the tour of late. Now, they have a chance to re-invent themselves and interestingly, the duo are set for a fourth-round clash on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Fabio Fognini continued his winning run as he reached the fourth round. Roger Federer was also in action on Friday, as he was facing some resistance against John Millman of Australia.