Karatsev stuns Schwartzman, Djokovic injury fear, Thiem back from the brink to beat Kyrgios: Men’s 2021 Australian Open Day 5

It was a highly eventful third round of the Australian Open in Melbourne on Friday featuring big upsets, epic fightbacks and an injury scare for Novak Djokovic.

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It was a highly eventful third round of the Australian Open in Melbourne on Friday. Novak Djokovic came through a five set encounter with Taylor Fritz, but his tournament is in doubt after a suspected muscle tear. One of the matches of the tournement saw Dominic Thiem fight back from two sets down to beat home favourite Nick Kyrgios, and the upset of the day saw Aslan Karatsev dump out Diego Schwartzman.

 

Check out Friday’s full schedule

What you need to know: First match of the day ends abruptly

In the first men’s match of the day in Margaret Court Arena, Pablo Carreno Busta retired against Grigor Dimitrov before winning even a single game. Dimitrov took the first set 6-0 and led 1-0 in the second when Carreno Busta called it quits because of an abdominal injury.

It was a disappointing end to the fortnight for the Spaniard, who is a two-time U.S. Open semi-finalist but has never enjoyed the same success in Melbourne.

Zverev breezes past Mannarino

There were no problems at all for sixth seed Alexander Zverev, who swept aside the challenge of No.32 seed Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 in an hour and 43 minutes.

“Very happy,” the German assured. “Adrian is someone I played three times last year and every time it was a very, very long match, very difficult match. Today I felt a bit lazy so I thought maybe I’ll hit the ball a little bit harder so we don’t have to play for four hours, you guys don’t have to sit in the sun, so all good. I’m happy.”

Upset of the day: Karatsev crushes Schwartzman

The upset of the afternoon saw a red-hot Aslan Karatsev upset No 8 Diego Schwartzman, and it wasn’t even close. Karatsev — who was dominant on the Challenger Tour at times last season, qualified for this Australian Open last month, and humiliated Egor Gerasimov 6-0, 6-1, 6-0 in the second round — remained in scintillating form right from the start against Schwartzman. Never letting up, the Russian rolled to a 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 victory.

This is the 27-year-old’s first-ever appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam.

Perhaps not so much of an upset was Felix Auger-Aliassime coming out on top in the battle of the Canadians, beating compatriot Denis Shapovalov. What was a surprise is the manner of the defeat, the 11th seed going down in straight sets, 7-5, 7-5, 6-3. The younger Canadian reached the fourth round of the US Open last year and has done likewise in Australia and will face Shwartzman’s conqueror next.

“I started really well,” said the defeated Shapovalov. “Thought I had all the momentum and then just got tight. Just sprayed four points in a row. Nerves got to me a little bit, and after that he got some belief and he started playing really well. Yeah, it was tough after that. I regrouped in the second set. Yeah, just a little bit of spraying today, couple loose errors, and that was pretty much the difference.”

Another Canadian to advance was former Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic, the big server getting the better of Marton Fucsovics 7-6, 5-7, 6-2, 6-2.

“Overall I have to be happy to be into the fourth round, have an opportunity to get into the later stages of this tournament,” said Raonic. “And, you know, it’s going to get harder and harder from here on out. I’m going to have to try to find a way to be better and better.”

Rod Laver Arena: Djokovic tournament in the balance

Victorious in the previous round against a rugged Frances Tiafoe, Novak Djokovic now faces a race against time to be fit for his fourth round encounter despite beating Taylor Fritz in five sets.

The eight-time Australian Open champion looked to be cruising into the fourth round after taking the opening two sets against his American opponent. Then at 1-1 in the third, he suffered an injury that required treatment and limited his movement.

It allowed Fritz back into the match to level at 2-2, and although further treatment and a fiery refusal to surrender saw Djokovic pull through in the decider, the extent of his injury remains unclear.

“I think it’s a tear,” said Djokovic. “I had that kind of weird feeling on one of the returns before I went to get the medical time out and I knew right away that something not so great is happening and it was confirmed by a physio from ATP. Let’s see. I don’t have a great experience with tears in terms of continuing in the tournament so that’s something that’s kind of in the clouds for me at the moment whether I’m going to step out onto the court in two days.”

Novak Djokovic, Open d'Australie 2021

John Cain Arena: Thiem fights back to beat Kyrgios in thriller

Nick Kyrgios just failed to replicatge his five set victory over Ugo Humbert in the second round of the Australian Open by losing a five set thriller to Dominic Thiem on John Cain. It all looked to be going the Australian’s way as he forged into a two set advantage, roared on by a partisan home crowd. But Thiem has done things the hard way before, most notably in the US Open final, and raised his game to surge back against a tiring Kyrgios.

Related: Get all the latest news on the Australian Open here

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