Earlier tonight, Ash Barty was tested on occasion, but was in control for the most part before defeating Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2, 6-4.
Ash Barty spoke to Channel Nine after her straight-sets victory over Ekaterina Alexandrova…
Q: Ash, through to the fourth round of the Australian Open. There was a real calmness about your performance tonight. Did you think it was calm and assured?
A: No, honestly it felt extremely intense and at times I had to really try and at times I had to really try and slow myself down and go back to my processes and what I wanted to do. Overall, I felt really clean out there tonight, felt like I executed the game plan, what we wanted to do well, implement the slice as much as possible and bring it back on my terms.
Q: That slice, is it a way to get things back on your terms?
A: It is, particularly against some girls, a better match-up than others. Tonight it was a match-up we wanted to bring in as much as possible to try and bring myself some more forehands so I could get in control of the points.
Q: Play again Monday. You satisfied with where things sit right now as you turn for home in week two?
A: Yeah, it’s exciting to be in the second week of a slam. Obviously it is another opportunity for me to go out there, enjoy the competition, to go out, challenge myself against some of the world’s best. Looking forward to it against Shelby [Rogers], she always has a chance of bringing out the best in me. Looking forward to that, try and go out there, be in the match as much as possible.
Q: You scribbled ‘Stay Safe’ on the camera. People in Melbourne clearly close to your heart.
A: I have a lot of friends and family down here, lived down here … I feel for everyone down here at the moment. We have to do all the right things now to make sure that everyone does stay safe and that’s players, all our support staff included. We do all the right things, so hopefully we have crowds again in a few days’ time.
Q: Another challenge next up, Shelby Rogers. Looking forward to it?
A: Absolutely. Just played Shelby last week. Another tricky one. Played her a couple of times and she has the ability to take the match away from me, so it is important for me to try and neutralise as best as I can, bring it back on my terms and at times take risks too.
Nadal spoke to John Fitzgerald on the court after his win…
Q: He pushed you pretty hard for part of that match. He fought hard and he was a great competitor, wasn’t he? It took an effort to get past that.
A: Of course, all the matches are tough. He came here winning a couple of good matches. Yeah, I think I didn’t convert the opportunities that I had at the beginning of every set, so then the situation become a little bit more difficult. I had, I think, a lot of lapses with a couple of 0-30s, break points I didn’t convert it. Then, of course, you play against the best players of the world, so normal that you’re going to suffer a little bit than later. Happy now. Good feelings. Of course, I need to keep improving, but tomorrow another day to practice. So in the second week, that’s the main thing for me now.
Q: I’m not sure if you knew, but you’ve won now your last 16 matches against left-handers, so you must feel quite comfortable going against them.
A: No, I didn’t know that before. Just is about adapt little bit. I don’t put a lot of attention on these things, just to change a bit, some kind of shots when you need to attack or defend. But for the rest – all the things I just tried to play my game. I think I played – I combine it, very good games with another couple of unforced errors that I need to fix it, but it’s normal. First matches in a lot of time. Now I already have three matches that I hope really will help me for what’s coming. I hope to be ready for Monday.
Q: OK. It is a bit different. It’s strange times. It doesn’t seem to affect your play, but it must affect the enjoyment a little bit.
A: Of course. Feeling is completely different now. Nobody wants this, but as I repeated plenty of times, it’s not the moment to forget about the situation that we are facing, it’s a moment to be responsible and Australia like the country is one of the best examples in the world. So maximum respect for what they are doing. Hopefully the situation will improve and for the end of the tournament, crowd will be back.
Q: Let’s hope so, fingers crossed. It is what it is, I guess. You don’t normally want to know who your next opponent is, do you?
A: I know. It’s Fognini. I saw.
Q: You know, OK. Alright. You’ve had a bit of a history with him.
A: Yeah, we played a lot of times. He beat me couple of times. He came here after the – an injury. He will be hungry to play well, very impressive victory today in straight sets. He will come to that match with plenty of confidence. Let’s see, I need to keep improving. Of course, you don’t expect an easy round at the round of 16, want to be a tough one. I need to be ready for it. I hope this can happen.
Fognini will now face 20-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal in the fourth round after the Spaniard defeated Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie 7-5, 6-2, 7-5 in two hours and 14 minutes at Rod Laver Arena.
Nadal hit eight more winners (33-25) and committed eight fewer unforced errors (35-43) than Norrie while he really dominated the Brit’s second serve.
Norrie only won 23 per cent of his second serves while Nadal won 69 per cent of his.
Fognini and Nadal have met 16 times, with the 13-time French Open champion leading their head-to-head 12-4.
Fognini committed more unforced errors (42-35), but ultimately almost doubled De Minaur for winners (25-13).
The Italian also broke the Australian five times while the No.21 seed could only manage two breaks.
To De Minaur’s credit, he hangs in there, and holds to make it 4-5. And then he has a glimmer of hope with a pair of Fognini unforced errors which go long and wide respectively giving the local favourite a 15-30 lead in the 10th game.
But at 30-30, De Minaur hits the ball wide with the court at his mercy and Fognini makes up for his horrible previous service game by converting his third match point to win 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and eight minutes.
De Minaur races through the seventh game, and then the Australian No.1 breaks Fognini in the next to trail 3-5 in the third set!
He put the Italian under pressure by going up 0-30 and then after regaining the ascendancy, Fognini squandered two match points, one of which he double-faulted on, before being broken by De Minaur!
Great fight shown by the Australian. At least he’s not giving up. But is it a case of too little, too late?
With brilliant offence and defence, Fognini clinches the sixth game to take a commanding 5-1 lead in the third set and De Minaur is now serving to stay in the match.
This has been such a well-rounded performance by the Italian, he thoroughly deserves to win this match.
Fognini gets the double-break!
De Minaur goes up 40-30 on serve, but a superb backhand from Fognini makes it deuce and then De Minaur sends it long to give the Italian a break point which he fails to convert with a rare unforced error as he sends the ball long himself.
However, the 16th seed’s relentless power undoes De Minaur again, the Aussie sending it into the net which brings up another break point for Fognini and this time he converts it!
The Italian leads 4-1 in the third set and it’s hard to see De Minaur coming back from this.
Meanwhile at Rod Laver Arena, Britain’s Cameron Norrie put up a good fight in the first set against Rafael Nadal, but normal transmission has resumed with the Spanish legend now leading 7-5, 6-2.