Australian Open: Elena Rybakina stunned by Anna Blinkova in longest Grand-Slam tie-break ever | Tennis News

Australian Open: Elena Rybakina stunned by Anna Blinkova in longest Grand-Slam tie-break ever | Tennis News

World No 3 Elena Rybakina lost an epic second-round match to Anna Blinkova after the longest deciding tie-break in Grand Slam history.

Blinkova beat Rybakina 6-4 4-6 7-6 (22-20) in two hours and 47 minutes and eventually won the match with her 10th match point.

Since 2022, all Grand Slams have had a 10-point tie-break if required in a deciding set and the 42 points between Rybakina and Blinkova is a new record.

The previous longest in the women’s game came when Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko edged out Romania’s Ana Bogda 20-18 in a third set tie-break at Wimbledon last year.

Blinkova surprised Rybakina in the first set only for the former Wimbledon champion to fight back in the second and force a decider.

Prior to the tie-break, there were five consecutive breaks of serve as the crowd loved every bit of the 93-minute third set on the Rod Laver Arena.

Anna Blinkova says her win over Elena Rybakina was the best day of her life

Rybakina had six match points but failed to take them and Blinkova had nine before getting over the line at the 10th time of asking in an instant classic.

“Thanks to the crowd for cheering me, encouraging me. It helped me so much, gave me so much energy to fight until the end,” said Blinkova, who will face Jasmine Paolini in the next round on Saturday.

“I had so many match points. I tried to be aggressive but my hands were shaking and my legs, too. I tried as hard as I could to be calm and I am super happy in the end. I told myself to be solid, keep putting balls in the court, and finally it worked out.”

Elena Rybakina was last year's runner-up at the Australian Open
Elena Rybakina was last year’s runner-up at the Australian Open

Swiatek avoids huge scare

World No 1 Iga Swiatek overcame a huge scare as she fought back to beat Danielle Collins 6-4 3-6 6-4 in the second round of the Australian Open.

Swiatek came into the tournament as favourite but 2022 runner-up Collins was two breaks up in the deciding set before the Pole came roaring back with five games in a row to clinch the match.

Collins, 30, announced afterwards that she plans to retire at the end of the year.

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek fought back from 4-1 down in the deciding set to beat Danielle Collins at the Australian Open

“I was in the airport already!,” said Swiatek, who will face Linda Noskov from the Czech Republic in the last 32 on Saturday.

“I wanted to fight until the end. I know she played perfectly but it would be hard for anyone to keep that level, so I wanted to be ready when mistakes were going to come from the other side and punish them.

“I did in the end and I’m really proud of myself because it wasn’t easy. I felt like I had momentum going, then she suddenly started playing two times faster.

“I had no idea how to react to that for a couple of games but I came back and thought ‘the only thing I can focus on is myself’. I stopped caring about how she played and focused on myself.”

The opening six games were shared until rain arrived in Melbourne, which forced play to be suspended.

Swiatek found the decisive break in the ninth game to go 5-4 up and held serve to take the opening set before breaking immediately at the start of the second.

However, the momentum quickly changed as American player Collins rattled off five consecutive games to move 5-1 ahead before taking the second set 6-3.

Danielle Collins plays a backhand return to Iga Swiatek during their second round match at the Australian Open
Danielle Collins was on the verge of beating Iga Swiatek and will regret those three break point chances at 4-3 up in the decider

Collins continued to pile on the pressure and broke early in the third to move 2-1 ahead then made it a double break to ensure the upset was very much on.

Swiatek got a break back but faced three break points on her serve at 4-3 down. She saved them all and that proved a turning point as Collins began to make errors.

It was soon all square as Swiatek took advantage of a poor Collins service game before holding serve and winning the match with her third opportunity in one of most dramatic contests at this year’s Australian Open so far.

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek was visibly relieved after defeating Danielle Collins

Pegula stunned by Burel

Jessica Pegula became the latest seed in the women’s draw to be knocked out after a surprise 4-6 2-6 defeat to France’s Clara Burel.

Pegula was one of the favourites outside of the Big Four to go deep into the tournament, having reached the quarter-finals of every Grand Slam over the last two years.

It was Burel’s first victory over a top 10 player and she only needed 70 minutes to take a dominant win.

“I think I played a very solid performance today, I was really focused. I didn’t let her come into this match. Very solid, and I’m really happy about this match today,” said Burel, who will play compatriot Oceane Dodin next.

Jessica Pegula
Jessica Pegula has won two WTA Masters titles in her career

Alcaraz comes through Sonego test in four sets

Men’s second seed Carlos Alcaraz overcame a second-set wobble to beat Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego 6-4 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 7-6 (7-3) in a thrilling second-round clash.

After fellow seeds Casper Ruud, Alexander Zverev and Cameron Norrie all huffed and puffed to five-set wins over lower-ranked opponents, the 20-year-old Spaniard was tested by the wind against the unseeded Sonego.

“I’m really happy with my performance today,” Alcaraz said. “I think both of us played a really high level, high intensity, the match was a little bit tricky with the wind and the sun.”

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain celebrates after defeating Lorenzo Sonego of Italy in their second round match at the Australian Open tennis championships at Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Carlos Alcaraz celebrates after coming through his second round test against Lorenzo Sonego

Alcaraz breezed through the opening set easily enough, but couldn’t find an opening on the Sonego serve in the second, with the Italian – who defeated British hope Dan Evans in the first round – taking it in a tie-break after racing in front 5-1.

The Italian, ranked 46 in the world, won the pair’s only previous clash in 2021, when Alcaraz was outside the top 50. But the 28-year-old was put through the wringer by his vastly improved opponent in the third set.

In a fourth set where both players were at their entertaining best, Sonego surrendered serve early on before immediately breaking back – his first of the match – but it was Alcaraz who raised his game in the tie-break on this occasion to reach the third round, where he will face Chinese wild card Shang Juncheng next.

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