Within Minutes, Halep, Collins and Cornet All Advance At Australian Open

Alizé Cornet (photo: Australian Open video)

MELBOURNE/WASHINGTON, January 22, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

Within a matter of about 10 minutes across Melbourne Park, on a sunny and warm 33-degree (Celsius) Saturday afternoon, Simona Halep, Danielle Collins and Alizé Cornet all won their respective third-round matches to advance to the round of 16. Each were survivors in the battle of the summer heat, too.

First, on John Cain Arena, the 14th-seeded Halep of Romania ended the run of No. 98 Danka Kovinic of Montenegro, 6-2, 6-1, to reach the round of 16 for the fifth straight year. She hit 19 winners during her 65-minute win to improve to 8-0 on the season and her third-round record in majors to 21-3. Halep is a perfect six-for-six in sets played and won and has dropped just 12 games.

Next, on Rod Laver Arena, No. 27 seed Collins of the United States hit 33 winners to 33 unforced errors and rallied from a set and 4-2 down to gain a two hour, 35 minute 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 win over 19-year-old Clara Tauson of Denmark. Tauson was the  last remaining teenager in the field, who came in ranked at a career-high 39th. On Monday, Collins will oppose No. 19 seed Elise Mertens of Belgium in the fourth round. Mertens advanced with a 6-2, 6-2 win over No. 74 Zhang Shuai of China in 70 minutes, aided by five breaks of serve.

Finally, the 61st-ranked Cornet of France celebrated her 32nd birthday with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 comeback victory over 29th seed Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia on Margaret Court Arena. Cornet overcame 39 unforced errors with 16 winners and took advantage of 63 unforced errors by Zidansek to earn her second trip into the round of 16 and first since 2009. Next, Cornet will play Halep in the fourth round on Monday.

“It was mostly about survival today,” Cornet said during her on-court interview. “I can’t believe this Australian heat – it’s so brutal! On a day like today, it’s about surviving on the court.

“I can’t believe I won this match. I was 6-4, 4-1 down. I couldn’t find solutions, but somehow I turned it around. Tamara was playing good tennis, I wasn’t playing my best. I kept going. Finally, I came back. It was magic win for me. I’m so happy.”

Looking back at Day 5: Big moments, big emotions

Now it can be told

Following her third-round victory Friday afternoon, two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka brought her son Leo with her to the podium for her press conference.

Reporter: “Leo, how did mummy play today?”

Leo: “Awesome!”

Vika: (Laughter). “Thank you for that!”

• Hall of Famer Mats Wilander, who is a pundit on Eurosport‘s tennis coverage said after women’s defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka was beaten by unseeded Amanda Anisimova: “I’m not sure if we’re going to ever see the great Naomi Osaka win Grand Slam tournaments again.”

What they’re writing

• David Kane, Tennis.com, “Paula Badosa Shares Wholesome Exchange With BFF Kostyuk After Australian Open Epic”

• Christopher Clarey, The New York Times, “In Tennis, Carlos Alcaraz Is About To Cause A Big Commotion”

Saturday’s Australian Open results

Sunday’s Australian Open order of play

By the numbers

• After the Australian Open fortnight is in the books, a week from now, 2021 women’s champion Naomi Osaka will drop in the next WTA rankings from No. 14 to No. 84. To be seeded in future majors, she will need to play more tournaments than last year. She was asked about after her third-round loss to Amanda Anisimova Friday night.

“I just want to go into this year, like, know that I’ll play the whole year and I’ll just have the greatest attitude ever,” Osaka said.

• Through her first three matches, top-seeded Ashleigh Barty has dropped just eight games.

“Quotable …”

“The last match that I played in New York I think I had a completely different attitude, so I’m really happy with … I lost, but I’m happy with how it went.”

Naomi Osaka of Japan, defending Australian Open women’s champion, who lost in the third round to Amanda Anisimova on Friday evening.

“I don’t know who I’m going to play against next. I don’t like to watch and I don’t want to know. It’s 3 a.m. Just finished my match. I don’t really care who I’m playing next. It’s the last thing I’m going to think about.”

Adrian Mannarino of France, who didn’t finish his third-round match against Aslan Karatsev until 2:33 a.m. Saturday. For the record, Mannarino will play Rafael Nadal in the fourth round on Sunday.

What they’re sharing on social media

Victoria Azarenka / Good morning 🌞