MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – The Latest on Thursday at the Australian Open (all times local):
Top-ranked Simona Halep came back after dropping the second set and going down a break in the third to beat Sofia Kenin 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-4 and move into a third-round match against Venus Williams.
Halep reached the final in Australia last year after saving match points in the third round and again in the semifinals, but lost the championship match to Caroline Wozniacki.
She ended a run of three runner-up finishes at the majors by winning the French Open in her following trip to a Grand Slam event.
Kenin went on a roll in the third set and was leading 4-2 but gave Halep a break-point chance with a double-fault and allowed the Romanian to get back on serve when she hit a wayward forehand.
Halep broke for a 5-4 lead – after Kenin saved two break-point chances – and calmly closed it out in 2 hours, 31 minutes.
“I have no idea how I won tonight,” Halep said. “So hard to explain what happened on court.”
Seven-time major winner Venus Williams advanced with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-0 win over Alize Cornet. Serena Williams looms as a fourth-round opponent for the winner of that match.
Australian wild-card entry Alexei Popyrin advanced to the third round at Melbourne Park when seventh-seeded Dominic Thiem retired in the third set with an injury.
Popyrin was leading 7-5, 6-4, 2-0 when Thiem retired.
Thiem had a 2 a.m. finish in his first-round match when he beat Benoit Paire in five sets.
Venus Williams has advanced to the third round at Melbourne Park with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-0 win over Alize Cornet.
After Cornet won the second set on her third set point, major winner Williams was relentless in the third to clinch the match in 2 hours, 18 minutes.
This tournament marks Williams’ 19th main draw appearance at the Australian Open to lead active players, and an open-era record 81st overall Grand Slam.
The last time Williams and Cornet met at a major was also in the second round at the Australian Open in 2013, when Williams won in straight sets.
The 38-year-old Williams has won seven Grand Slam singles titles but never in Australia, where she has been a runner-up twice.
Top-ranked Simona Halep’s second-round match against 20-year-old American Sofia Kenin is going to a third set.
Halep won the first set 6-3 and was up a break in the second before Kenin rallied to force a tiebreaker, and won it the second set 7-6 (5).
A runner-up to Caroline Wozniacki here last year, Halep was two points from victory four times against Kenin.
In the first round, Halep rallied from a set and a break down to fend off Kaia Kanepi, avenging a defeat in the corresponding round at the U.S. Open last year.
Kenin warmed up for the Australian Open by winning her first career title at Hobart.
Hyeon Chung made it to the semifinals last year at the Australian Open, giving the sport’s profile a massive boost in South Korea.
His run was more brief on return this year, beaten by Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-2, 1-6, 6-2, 6-4 in a rain-interrupted second-round match. He lost in the first round in warm-up tournaments in Pune, India and Auckland, New Zealand.
“It was tough day for me today, he had a really good serve and then the rain came,” Chung said.
It was also a tough 2018 after Chung advanced to the semis at Melbourne Park and had to pull out of his match against Roger Federer with blisters while trailing 6-1, 5-2. He had already beaten Alexander Zverev in the third round and Novak Djokovic in the fourth.
The South Korean struggled with blisters for most of the rest of the year and also missed the French Open and Wimbledon with a right ankle injury.
“I had a lot of ups and downs in 2018, and I’m trying to fix parts of my game,” Chung said. “So far I’m not sure it’s working.”
Ivo Karlovic lost his second-round match against Kei Nishikori but appears to be winning the battle of approaching middle age.
Asked for his secret, he replied: “Croatian cooking and good genes.”
Karlovic is 39 and has already established a number of age records. A first-round win made him the oldest man to win a match at the Australian Open since Ken Rosewall in 1978. When he won in the first round, he became the oldest man to win a Grand Slam singles match since Jimmy Connors reached the second round at the U.S. Open in 1992 at the age of 40.
Karlovic said he was proud of his age records and thought he could play another “eight or nine years.”
When that comment was met with laughter, Karlovic responded: “Not funny.” He was smiling, but no one knew for sure if he was offended or was just joking.
“I remember when I was maybe 24, I thought if I could play until I was 30, it would be unbelievable,” he said. “Now I am almost 40.”
His five-set loss to Nishikori included a few missed break-point opportunities at 4-4 in the final set, and a botched volley in the tiebreaker.
“It is easy, after all, to say I should have done this, should have done that,” Karlovic said. “I had those opportunities in the end. It could have gone either way. In my old age it was unbelievable.”
Milos Raonic was either one or two points from dropping each of the sets he eventually grabbed on the way to edging 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka 6-7 (4), 7-6 (6), 7-6 (11), 7-6 (5) in the Australian Open’s second round.
The 16th-seeded Raonic, the Wimbledon runner-up in 2016, hit 39 aces in the 4-hour, 2-minute thriller.
He barely came through.
Wawrinka, owner of a total of three Grand Slam titles, was two points away from taking the second set, held three set points in the third, and was two points away from forcing a fifth while ahead 5-4 in what would turn out to be the last tiebreaker.
U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka is through to the third round at Melbourne Park after beating Tamara Zidansek 6-2, 6-4.
The fourth-seeded Osaka recovered a service break in the second set and, at 4-4, she broke Zidansek’s service to love. Osaka hit an ace to save a break point in the last game and clinched it on her second match point with a service winner.
Osaka began the year with a semifinal appearance at the Brisbane International, losing to eventual finalist Lesia Tsurenko
She has reached the semifinals at four of her past five tournaments.
Play has resumed on the three show courts at Melbourne Park after play was suspended because of rain. The roofs on Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and Melbourne Arena were closed and play started once the courts could be dried. Milos Raonic and 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka were level at one set apiece and 4-4 in the third when the rain suspended their second-round match.
Steady rain showers have suspended play on all courts at Melbourne Park.
The roofs on Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and Melbourne Arena were closed and play was scheduled to resume on those main shows courts as soon as the courts could be dried.
The second-round match between 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic was level at 4-4 in the third set at Rod Laver after Wawrinka won the first set and Raonic the second, both in tiebreakers.
Eighth-seeded Kei Nishikori withstood 59 aces from Ivo Karlovic before beating the veteran Croatian 6-3, 7-6 (6), 5-7, 5-7, 7-6 (7) and advancing to the third round at Melbourne Park.
Nishikori isn’t making it easy on himself so far this tournament after losing the first two sets of his first-round match and then allowing Karlovic to get back into this match after taking a 2-0 set lead.
Nishikori, who dropped to his knees after hitting a service winner on match point, led 4-1 in the final-set 10-point tiebreaker but allowed Karlovic to take a 7-6 lead in it. But a backhand long and service return long by Karlovic allowed Nishikori to retake the lead that he didn’t relinquish.
The 39-year-old Karlovic had six aces in a row to end the fourth set.
Madison Keys is through to the third round at Melbourne Park after a 6-3, 6-4 win over Anastasia Potapova.
Keys, the 2017 U.S. Open runner-up who has made the semifinals in three of the last five majors, will next play No. 12-seeded Elise Mertens, who beat Margarita Gasparyan 6-1, 7-5.
Hsieh Su-wei also advanced by beating Laura Siegemund 6-3, 6-4. The Taiwanese player will take on either U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka or Tamara Zidansek in the third round.
Karolina Pliskova has set up a third-round match against Camila Giorgi with a 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 win over Madison Brengle at Melbourne Park.
Pliskova broke the American player’s serve six times in seven chances after dropping the opening set. She also sent down seven aces and had 14 service winners.
The seventh-seeded Pliskova has now won all three times she has played Brengle. Pliskova has advanced to the quarterfinals each of the last two years at Melbourne Park, including a loss to eventual finalist Simona Halep last year.
Brengle has lost in the first round the past two years and her best finish here was the fourth round in 2015.
Sixth-seeded Elina Svitolina has advanced to the third round at Melbourne Park and kicked off proceedings at Rod Laver Arena with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Viktoria Kuzmova.
Svitolina will next play either Karolina Pliskova or Madison Brengle, who were playing the third set of their match at Melbourne Arena.
Next up on Rod Laver is 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka’s match against big-serving Milos Raonic.
Wang Qiang and Camila Giorgi made short work of their second-round opponents at Melbourne Park, sweeping to straight-set victories.
Wang, the 21st-seeded player, beat Aleksandra Krunic 6-2, 6-3 in 58 minutes. No. 27 Giorgi needed just a minute long to defeat Polish qualifier Iga Swiatek 6-2, 6-0.
Kei Nishikori will be hoping for a better start Thursday in his second-round match against Ivo Karlovic on Margaret Court Arena than he did in his first at the Australian Open.
The Japanese star lost the first two sets against Kamil Majchrzak and advanced when the Polish qualifier had to retire with an injury while trailing 3-0 in the deciding set. Nishikori has won his two most recent matches against Karlovic, including at the 2016 U.S. Open.
Rod Laver Arena has afternoon matches between Milos Raonic and former champion Stan Wawrinka and top-ranked Simona Halep against American Sofia Kenin.
Serena Williams plays Eugenie Bouchard to open night play on the main show court, followed by top-seeded Novak Djokovic’s match against former finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
It’s mostly cloudy at Melbourne Park with the temperature expected to rise to 33 Celsius (91 Fahrenheit).
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