AO 2022 Day 5: Osaka out, Nadal on the rise

Find out who reached the fourth round at Melbourne Park with players vying for a run into the second week.

Naomi Osaka / Australian Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

The middle weekend is closing in at Australian Open 2022 and the world’s finest have been in the middle of some mesmerising matches.

With a couple rounds under their belts, we’re finding out who is really in fine fettle, shooting towards the latter stages.

Let’s take a look at the Day five headlines from Melbourne Park…

Match of the day

There were some very strong contenders but Amanda Anisimova saved two match points to defeat defending champion Naomi Osaka 4-6, 6-3, 7-6[10-5] in an electric exhibition of world class tennis.

“I just want to soak in this moment. I'm just extremely happy. It was an amazing match. It was very close,” declared the world No.60, who evaded defeat at 4-5 in the decider. “There were a bit of nerves, and to play Naomi for the first time, it's unreal. I was getting goose bumps in the tie-breaker.

“It's an amazing feeling, and it's all of that hard work that I put in is to have those moments like today.”

Anisimova, bouncing back after two tricky seasons, has beaten a defending major champion before at a major – Simona Halep at Roland-Garros 2019. That earned her a semi-final against Ash Barty, who she faces again on Sunday.

“She's an amazing player. I look up to her a lot. I love her game. She's very consistent. She's a champion,” stated the American youngster.

“It's just going to be exciting to go up against her, another amazing opportunity for me.”

World No.1 Barty dazzled again, extending her unbroken streak to six matches and 57 straight games. The Australian soared past Camilia Giorgi 6-2, 6-3 to start the RG 2019 flashbacks.

“It will be nice to play each other again in a big match,” said the top seed, recalling their 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-3 Parisian treat.

“You have to be able to take learnings from those moments, as hard as they are sometimes. I was able to navigate and find a way through. Which at that point in my life, in my career, it was a massive turning point.”

Ashleigh Barty - Amanda Anisimova - Roland-Garros 2019 - demi-finale©Cedric Lecocq / FFT

Berrettini defies Alcaraz brilliance

A young Spaniard flexing his muscles in a vest? You’d think it was Rafael Nadal circa 2005. No, 2021 Next Gen Finals champion Carlos Alcaraz channelled his compatriot in an enthralling encounter with seventh seed Matteo Berrettini.

The Italian was pushed to the limit in a 6-2, 7-6(3), 4-6, 2-6, 7-6[10-5] scoreboard, where the teenage prodigy saved match point at 4-5 in the decider.

"He's unbelievable. At his age I didn't even have an ATP point," quipped Berrettini, who will take on Pablo Carreno Busta next. "He can only improve playing matches like this. He showed everyone today his potential - luckily today I won, but congrats to him."

Badosa battles past amiga

Close friends off court, but Paula Badosa and Marta Kostyuk left that in the locker room to treat us to a superb contest on Friday.

Recent Sydney champion Paula Badosa booked a maiden fourth round in Melbourne 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 having quelled the comeback from the Ukrainian teenage protégé.

The eighth seed saw a commanding set and 4-2 lead dissolve, before edging a tense finale.

“I was expecting a match like this against Marta. She has a big potential and she goes for it. She has an amazing tennis. I really like how she plays,” stated Badosa.

“For the moment I'm enjoying. I'm playing well. I'm winning matches. I'm playing on big stages, that I always wanted to play on these courts. It was an amazing match. I'm pretty happy about that.”

World No.51 Madison Keys, a quarter-finalist here back in 2015, fired 50 winners past Wang Qiang 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 [10-2] to earn a clash with Badosa.

Monfils 20 and counting

The swagger and smile is back from Gael Monfils. One of the most enthralling entertainers out there, the Frenchman has hit the ground running Down Under.

The 35-year-old sparked his season with the Adelaide 1 trophy and has risen through the gears again in Melbourne, with demolition jobs over Federico Coria and Alexander Bublik.

Monfils posted his 20th major last 16 venture with a 7-6(4), 6-1, 6-3 scoreboard with 16th seed Cristian Garin.

“It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of new beginnings,” tweeted Monfils, , hoping to return to the quarter-finals for a second time.

Gaël Monfils / Australian Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

His fellow Frenchman Adrian Mannarino closed out play in the early hours of Saturday morning at 2:33am, taking out 2019 semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev 7-6(4), 6-7(4), 7-5, 6-4.

World No.69 Mannarino will need to recover quickly, with 20-time Grand Slam champion awaiting. The Spaniard pinged some outrageous shots to deny Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.

“I played my best match without a doubt since I came back,” said the 2009 champion, after a foot injury kept him sidelined for five months. “That is a very positive and special thing for me.”

Canada’s Denis Shapovalov ventured into the last 16 for the first time. A four sets triumph over Reilly Opelka served up a duel with third seed Alexander Zverev.

Vika and Krejcikova blockbuster

Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka continued to turn heads with her performances, roaring 6-0, 6-2 past 15th seed Elina Svitolina.

The former world No.1 held a 4-0 record over Svitolina prior to taking to court and dominated once again courtesy of 17 winners and 11/12 net points in her favour.

World No.25 Azarenka, delighted with her “aggressivity” to fend off the Ukrainian, paid tribute to her fourth round opponent Barbora Krejcikova.

“I think the rise of Barbora has been pretty incredible over the last year and a half, basically since COVID. She seems to kind of elevate her game more and more,” said the Belarusian, winning their only previous clash over three sets at Ostrava 2020.

The Czech bounced back from a set and a break in the battle of the Roland-Garros champions. Krejcikova found the answers 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 over the net from Jelena Ostapenko.

“Playing Vika, it's very special. I'm really happy that I'm going to be able to face her again and see where my level is right now,” stated the reigning Roland-Garros champion. “I really admire her. I remember when I was a junior here, she was actually winning the titles. I spent a lot of time watching her on TV.

“It was also one of the things that I was thinking about during the match. ‘Okay, you got to work harder so you can play Vika.’”

American Jessica Pegula returned to the last 16 for the second consecutive season going 7-6(3), 6-2 over world No.63 Nuria Parrizas Diaz to advance.

The red hot Maria Sakkari awaits, who hasn’t dropped a set yet through three matches. The fifth seed put in another emphatic display 6-4, 6-1 against Viktoria Kudermetova.