AO 2022 Day 6: Cornet toasts, Tsitsipas strikes

There was a birthday to celebrate at Melbourne Park as a host of players wanted a share of the fourth-round cake.

Stefanos Tsitsipas Australian Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Friday was simply sensational at Australian Open 2022.

Day 6 certainly had a lot to live up to at a sun kissed Melbourne Park.

Here are the main headlines served up Down Under…

Cornet’s birthday treat

Alizé Cornet celebrated her birthday battling from the brink 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 over 29th seed Tamara Zidansek.

The world No.61, who revealed this could be her last season, reeled in the Slovenian from a set and 4-1 down. The cherry on top of the birthday cake was earning a fourth round clash with two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep

“I have chills. I don't realise yet what I just accomplished,” said the 32-year-old, who last made this stage in 2009.

“It's definitely a very, very special victory being back in the second week 13 years after my first second week at the Australian Open. It's quite special. The day of my birthday, I mean, what else can I ask for?” 

Cornet will hope to book a maiden major quarter-final against Halep, who gifted only three games to Danka Kovinic to advance. 

“I feel great physically. Mentally I'm confident and also strong. Feeling joy out there,” said 2018 finalist Halep. “I think that helps me to be positive and to be confident that I have a chance every time I step on the court. I really trust that I can play good tennis here.”

Cornet has chalked up a 60th successive Grand Slam appearance, two off the record. 

“It's great that she can make that. I remember '17 she did fourth round in Roland-Garros. She has a lot of experience. This will help her next match,” added world No.15 Halep, who hasn’t played the Frenchwoman since 2015. 

“I've always liked her. She's a fighter on the court. Out of the court she's a very nice person. I expect a good match so we'll see.”

Sabalenka escapes once again 

Still troubled on serve, but seeing the funny side to celebrate only hitting 10 double faults, second seed Aryna Sabalenka fought back 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 to defeat Marketa Vondrousova.

The Belarusian heads into her second consecutive last 16 appearance at Melbourne Park for an Estonian encounter against Kaia Kanepi. The world No.115 ended the gallant run of Australian wildcard Maddison Inglis 2-6, 6-2, 6-0. 

2019 semi-finalist Danielle Collins roared back 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 to halt former junior world No.1 Clara Tauson. The American will vie for a quarter-final ticket facing 19th seed Elise Mertens. 

Match of the day

An emotional Fritz sat down on the player’s bench in disbelief, finally into a Grand Slam fourth round in his 22nd Grand Slam main draw and he had to do it the hard way. 

The 24-year-old has been denied at this stage in the majors by Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem. However, he prevailed this time 6-0, 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 against combative Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut. 

“It's huge. Its eluded me for so long. I have had a lot of tough matches, a lot of tough draws, never gotten a great look at it, I guess. It means a ton and also to do it against someone who has basically been my dad my whole professional career.”

On song Swiatek still rocking  

Seventh seed Iga Swiatek lit up the night session with a dominant 6-2 6-3 display to book her fifth straight second week in the Grand Slam arena. 

WTA Insider came up with a cracking stat, that during the Pole’s 2020 Roland-Garros title run, she didn’t lose more than five games per match. Through the opening three rounds this week, the 20-year-old has also not dropped more than five games per match. Is that an ominous sign for her rivals?

The world No.9 will have her dominance tested by Sorana Cirstea in the last 16, who found the answers 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 in battle with Roland-Garros finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Demon dealt Sinner

The home crowd was rocking as home charge Alex de Minaur headed to new ground with a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Spanish veteran Pablo Andujar. 

“Winning on Rod Laver Arena, in front of the man himself, Rod Laver, I couldn’t really ask for more. I’m at my home Slam, doing what I love, I’m living the dream,” stated the delighted Demon, into his maiden last 16 at Melbourne Park. 

The Sydneysider will have to find a way to deal with the firepower of 11th seed Jannik Sinner. The Italian defeated Andy Murray’s conqueror Taro Daniel 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 to become the first player to make four Grand Slam last 16 appearances before turning 21 since Juan Martin del Potro in 2008-9.

To close out Day 6, a fired-up Marin Cilic overcame fifth seed Andrey Rublev in four high-quality sets. The 2018 finalist’s reward is a clash with Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime.

The ninth seed dismantled Dan Evans in two hours 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 to keep building upon his 2021 Wimbledon quarter-final and US Open final four spot.