Australian Open: Dominic Thiem crashes out to Grigor Dimitrov

2020 Australian Open finalist Dominic Thiem was sent packing by a resurgent Grigor Dimitrov

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Dominic Thiem crashed out of the Australian Open on Sunday

2020 Australian Open finalist and one of the pre-tournament favourites, Dominic Thiem, crashed out in the Round of 16 to Grigor Dimitrov on Sunday.

The World No 3, showed flashes of a fightback in the second set, but soon went down 4-6, 4-6, 0-6 to former Australian Open semi-finalist Dimitrov.

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Thiem, who became the first player born in the 1990s to win a Grand Slam when he clinched last year’s US Open title, had come through an intense five-setter against crowd favourite Nick Kyrgios in the previous round on Friday.

And the Austrian seemed sluggish against Dimitrov, losing in two hours and a minute.

In the last eight, Dimitrov will take on the breakthrough star of the tournament: Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev.

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Qualifier to quarterfinalist

Karatsev continued his dream run at the Australian Open as he defeated 20th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime 3-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the last eight at Melbourne Park.

Karatsev is just the seventh man in the Open Era to make the quarterfinals on his major debut.

“It was really tough in the beginning to play with him,” Karatsev said in his on-court interview. “He’s a really good player and he’s playing really fast. It took me two sets to find a way how to play.”

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Having found a way back, rode the momentum of his furious recovery to become the third qualifier in the Open Era to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals after three hours and 25 minutes.

This is Karatsev’s Grand Slam debut, but he has been in great form since tennis resumed last August following a five-month suspension due to the pandemic. The Russian won 18 of his final 20 ATP Challenger Tour matches in 2020, claiming two trophies at that level.

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The 27-year-old struggled with a knee injury in 2017, which kept him out for six months. But he has found his confidence again and will crack the Top 100 for the first time following the Australian Open.

Osaka battles back from the brink

Naomi Osaka saved two match points as she battled back from the brink to reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open with a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 victory over in-form Garbine Muguruza.

“I’m tired right now, that was tough,” said Osaka, who mixed 40 winners with 36 unforced errors over the contest.

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Next up for Osaka is an all-Asian quarter-final against unorthodox 35-year-old Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan, who will be playing in the last eight of a Grand Slam for the first time.

“I’m not looking forward to it, every time we have played it’s three sets,” Osaka added. “It’s fun when I’m not really angry. When I play her I just have to expect everything.”

Serena survives Sabalenka scare

Serena Williams stormed into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Sunday with a gritty 6-4 2-6 6-4 victory over Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka.

The American, who is chasing a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, clawed a break back but was powerless in the face of Sabalenka’s onslaught as the seventh seed broke once more for a 4-1 lead before sending the match into a decider.

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“I lost the second set but the games were so close so I just tried to stay in there,” Williams added.

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