Zverev advances; Isner forced to retire

MELBOURNE, Australia — Alexander Zverev is back in the fourth round at the Australian Open after beating 36-year-old Fernando Verdasco 6-2, 6-2, 6-4.

The 22-year-old German player has pledged $10,000 for every match win at the Australian Open, and his entire prize money if he wins the title at Melbourne Park this year. His best run at a major to date is to the quarterfinals at the French Open.

The seventh-seeded Zverev won the last four games after going down a break in the third set against Verdasco, who was contesting his 67th consecutive Grand Slam tournament — the second-longest streak for men behind Feliciano Lopez (72).

Two-time major winner Garbine Muguruza has beaten fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-2 to reach the fourth round.

Muguruza, who won the French Open in 2016 and Wimbledon the following year, took the first set in 23 minutes and conceded just 12 points in seven games.

The third-round has been tough for highly seeded players in the women’s draw, with No. 2 Karolina Pliskova, No. 3 and defending champion Naomi Osaka, No. 6 Belinda Bencic, No. 8 Serena Williams — a 23-time major winner — all unable to reach the second week at Melbourne Park.

Unseeded Muguruza started the tournament by losing the first set she played 6-0, but rebounded to win that match 0-6, 6-1, 6-0.

“The first day I didn’t feel well at all, but I never throw in the towel,” she said. “I’m in the fourth round because of a big fight.”

Against Svitolina, a quarterfinalist at the last two Australian Open tournaments and a semifinalist last year at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, Muguruza was dominant.

“Everything went quickly my way — yeah, I’ll take it,” she said. “I played a very good match. I managed to probably disturb her, and take the match to my side.”

No. 9 seed Kiki Bertens has reached the Australian Open’s fourth round for the first time.

Bertens closed out the women’s third round at Melbourne Park by beating Zarina Diyas 6-2, 7-6 (3).

Bertens compiled a 35-19 edge in winners and her serve was broken only once.

The best showing for Bertens at any Grand Slam tournament was a run to the semifinals of the French Open in 2016.

Bertens is the first Dutch woman to reach the round of 16 at the Australian Open since Brenda Schultz-McCarthy in 1996.

Three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka moved into the fourth round at Melbourne Park after 19th-seeded American John Isner stopped playing in the second set.

Wawrinka led 6-4, 4-1 when Isner was visited by a trainer at a changeover and then retired from the match.

Wawrinka won the Australian Open in 2014 for his first Grand Slam title. This is his seventh trip to the round of 16 in Melbourne and first since 2017.

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.

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.


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