MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – The Latest on the Australian Open (all times local):
CiCi Bellis’ return to Grand Slam tennis after a two-year absence has ended in a third-round loss to 16th-seeded Elise Mertens at the Australian Open.
Bellis had four operations on her right arm and her ranking dropped to 600 in the time between her trip Down Under in 2018 and her return to Melbourne Park.
The 20-year-old American was told last year that there was a chance she’d never play again. But she took her place in the main draw on a protected ranking and then upset 20th-seeded Karolina Muchova in straight sets in the second round.
It ended in a 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-0 loss to Mertens, a semifinalist in Australia in 2018 who had only dropped five game in her two previous rounds.
Fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem had a much easier time in his third-round match than his second and beat Taylor Fritz 6-2, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-4 to advance to the second week at Melbourne Park.
Fritz double-faulted on match point.
Two days ago the Austrian player needed five sets to beat Australian wild-card entry Alex Bolt.
It is the third time that Thiem has beaten the American at a Grand Slam tournament. He beat Fritz in four sets in the second round of the 2017 U.S. Open and again in the third round at Flushing Meadows a year later.
Thiem will next play Gael Monfils, who earlier beat Ernests Gulbis in straight sets.
Rafael Nadal has easily advanced to the second week at the Australian Open with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win over fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta.
The top-ranked Nadal had beaten Carreno Busta in all four of their previous matches, including the quarterfinals of the 2017 French Open.
It is the 47th time that Nadal has reached the fourth round at a Grand Slam tournament, trailing only Roger Federer’s 67 and Novak Djokovic’s 50.
Nadal hasn’t dropped a set in his first three matches at Melbourne Park. He will next play either Nick Kyrgios or Karen Khachanov.
A day after upsetting defending champion Naomi Osaka in singles, 15-year-old Coco Gauff combined with Caty McNally for a win in the second round of women’s doubles at the Australian Open.
The American teenagers beat eighth-seeded pair Kveta Peschke and Demi Schuurs 6-3, 6-4.
After her win over Osaka, Gauff will play fellow American, 14th-seeded Sofia Kenin, in the fourth round.
Top-ranked Ash Barty’s doubles campaign is over, leaving her to focus on the singles. Barty and Julia Goerges lost 7-5, 6-2 to No. 2-seeded Kristina Mladenovic and Timea Babos, who won the Australian title in 2018 and were losing finalists last year.
Gael Monfils has advanced to the fourth round with a 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-3 win over qualifier Ernests Gulbis.
The 33-year-old Frenchman reached the second week at Melbourne Park for the fourth time, and first since 2017.
Monfils has beaten the No. 256-ranked Gulbis all three times they have met on tour, including in the second round of the 2013 French Open.
Before coming to Melbourne, Monfils represented France at the ATP Cup. He beat Chile’s Cristian Garin in singles but lost to Novak Djokovic of Serbia, the eventual champions.
Wimbledon champion Simona Halep has beaten Yulia Putintseva 6-1, 6-4 to advance to the fourth round at Melbourne Park.
Halep was the tournament runner-up to Caroline Wozniacki and went on to win the French Open for her first major.
The fourth-seeded Halep will next play either Elise Mertens or CiCi Bellis.
Unseeded Iga Swiatek helped continue the exodus of seeded women’s players at the Australian Open by beating No. 19 Donna Vekic 7-5, 6-3.
The 18-year-old Swiatek also beat two top-20 ranked players last year and advanced to the fourth round at the French Open before losing to Simona Halep.
Vekic had beaten five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova in the first round at Melbourne Park.
Swiatek and 15-year-old Coco Gauff are the only teenagers left in the women’s main draw.
Sixth-seeded Belinda Bencic has lost 6-0, 6-1 to Anett Kontaveit to join other a queue of highly-ranked women exiting from Melbourne Park before the fourth round.
Bencic had beaten former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the second round.
Bencic joins No. 2 Karolina Pliskova, No. 3 and defending champion Naomi Osaka and No. 8 Serena Williams among those who’ve lost in the third round.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has ended a six-match losing streak against second-seeded Karolina Pliskova with a 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3) win. The Rod Laver Arena match took 2 hours, 25 minutes to complete – the second game lasted 17 minutes and 53 seconds before Pliskova finally held serve after saving six break points and playing through 12 deuces.
The 30th-seeded Pavlyuchenkova, who had taken only one set in six previous matches against Pliskova, will play three-time major champion Angelique Kerber in the fourth round. Kerber earlier beat Camila Giorgi in three sets.
Three-time major champion Angelique Kerber has advanced to the fourth round at the Australian Open with a 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-3 win over Camila Giorgi to continue her career winning streak over the Italian player.
Kerber has beaten Giorgi all five times they’ve met, including three previous times Down Under at warm-up tournaments ahead of the Australian Open.
Kerber won the 2016 Australian Open for her first major, then followed that up with the U.S. Open later that year and Wimbledon in 2018.
Giorgi has never advanced past the third round of any major except Wimbledon.
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