AO 2023: Seeds crash out, Murray's milestone marathon

Wherever you looked the drama and spellbinding tennis was canvassing the courts Down Under at the Australian Open.

Ons Jabeur Australian Open 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

So many superstars, so many head-turning results, Day 4 at the Australian Open was a treat for fans and media worldwide well into the early hours.

Across the Melbourne Park precinct crowds were packed to witness a plethora of major moments. Here the main headlines from a thrilling Thursday…

Big names, big shocks

A whole host of seeds were sent packing, including the No.2 seed on both the men's and the women's side. 

Jenson Brooksby downed Casper Ruud 6-3, 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-2 for a career-best victory. 

"It was really exciting to be out there on such a big stage like that. I always enjoy and treasure those atmospheres," said Australian Open debutant Brooksby.

"I believe I'm a great competitor. I want to win big matches and get as high as I can, and I believe I can."

The 22-year-old rolls onto duel with fellow American Tommy Paul in the last 32, who needed five sets to edge No.30 seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Closing out play on Rod Laver Arena, 2019 Roland-Garros finalist Marketa Vondrousova capped her comeback from wrist surgery with a 6-1, 5-7, 6-1 triumph over world No.2 Ons Jabeur. 

I"t's always tough to come back after such a long time. I just started in November and I felt really good. I had great practices, I worked on my fitness a lot," said Vondrousova, up against fellow Czech, the rising star Linda Fruhvirtova next.

"I'm very happy to already be back at this level, to play these types of matches."

Andy Murray Australian Open 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Murray's early morning magic


"Yeah, I have a big heart"

That's an understatement. Somehow, five-time finalist Andy Murray reeled in home charge Thanasi Kokkinakis from a seemingly impossible position to carve out a record 11th comeback from two sets to love down.

After five hours and 45 minutes, the longest match of Murray's Hall of Famer career, the 35-year-old held his arms aloft 4-6, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-3, 7-5 at just after 4am local time!

"Unbelievable that I managed to turn that round," said an exhausted Murray.

"I'm aware I don't look particularly happy when playing but I'm at my happiest on the inside.

"I've always loved competing and always showed my emotions when I've played. I've been criticised a lot for it over the years but thats who I am."

Next up. You couldn't write this script, a 2019 Australian Open rematch with Roberto Bautista Agut.

Popyrin and Mmoh defy the odds


Earlier on Thursday, Alexei Popyrin had the local crowd leaping into the air with a five-set triumph over No.8 seed Taylor Fritz.

The Australian advances to tackle college tennis superstar Ben Shelton.

Michael Mmoh, who had his flight home to America booked for Wednesday, grasped his Lucky Loser chance and ran with it, toppling 12th seed Alexander Zverev in four sets. 

In another huge American moment, qualifier Katie Volynets clinched her first Top 10 victory at the first attempt, sending world No.9 Veronika Kudermetova out 6-4, 2-6, 6-2. 

Caroline Garcia Australian Open 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Continue to fly with Caro


France's leading light Caroline Garcia sparkled on Rod Laver Arena to fend off the firepower of Leylah Fernandez 7-6(5), 7-5 to soar back into the last 32 for the first time since 2019.

"I felt after the first set it was a little bit of a robbery from my side," quipped Garcia. "She was pretty much up the whole time, I couldn’t really find my rhythm, but I just tried to play one point at a time, stay in the present and it was very important for me, for sure." 

Fellow French talent Benjamin Bonzi eventually converted his sixth match point to down Pablo Carreno Busta. The world No.48 posted the 4-6, 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-1, 7-6[10-4] scoreline to book a third round ticket with green and gold talisman Alex de Minaur. 

Djokovic escapes, Sabalenka blazes on

Novak Djokovic's pursuit of an unprecedented 10th Australian Open crown took a step closer.

The 21-time Grand Slam champion defied his continuing hamstring issue and dogged French qualifier Enzo Couacaud 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-0 to earn a clash with Grigor Dimitrov. 

"There was a lot happening in the match," stated the Serbian. "He played some great tennis, especially in the second set. We both had some medical timeouts and struggled a little bit. But I managed to respond well in the third and fourth."

Aryna Sabalenka Australian Open 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

High seeds including Andrey Rublev, Holger Rune and Belinda Bencic (a 50th Grand Slam win) all advanced unscathed. No.5 seed Aryna Sabalenka continued to build her title credentials, catapulting 31 winners during a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Shelby Rogers.