Sunday 18 March 2018 / 10:52 AM


Both men’s and women’s world No.1s were eliminated on a stunning Day 7 at the Australian Open.

First, Andy Murray was knocked out 7-5 5-7 6-2 6-4 by unseeded Mischa Zverev in four sets. Then in the late-night match, women’s defending champion Angelique Kerber was emphatically dumped 6-2 6-3 by big hitting Coco Vandeweghe, who is also unseeded.

Murray has never won the Australian Open and this was his first major playing as world No.1. And with Novak Djokovic out of the equation after losing three days ago – Murray has been runner up four times to Djokovic in Melbourne – this was supposed to be his crowning glory.

Zverev is the lowest-ranked player Murray has lost to at a major since the 2006 Australian Open when his suffered a reverse to Juan Ignacia Chela. It was also the earliest exit for a men’s top seed at the Australian Open since Lleyton Hewitt at the same stage in 2003.

As for Zverev – older brother of Alexander Zverev, who was watching in the stands after pushing Rafael Nadal to five sets yesterday – he has reached a first grand slam quarterfinal at the ripe age of 29.

Zverev got the upper hand over his Scottish opponent with his intelligent and eye-catching serve and volleying. He came to the net an astonishing 118 times, unheard of in modern-day tennis.

“I tried to mix it up a bit. I served and volleyed. Sometimes I sliced, sometimes I went to the forehand and tried to knock him off his stride, off his rhythm,” Zverev said.

Murray did fight back in the second set with a late break of serve. However, the 50th-ranked German destroyed a rattled Murray in the third.

Murray returned reasonably well but was dreadful on his own serve, getting broken no less than eight times in the match and winning a mere 36% of points on his vulnerable second serve.

Everyone was waiting for Zverev to choke as he was closing in on the biggest win of his life and he almost did. While serving for the match, he replied a weak Murray lob with a smash into the net. It was probably the easiest smash he had all day. It could have been the turning point for a Murray comeback but Zverev reacted with composure to close it out.

After two of the biggest upsets in tournament history, coming just three days apart, the men’s draw is now wide open.

Kerber’s upset wasn’t quite as shocking given she had to battle through three-setters in her first two rounds. Vandeweghe is ranked No.35 and so only just missed out on being seeded, but her power game left the more defensive Kerber at her mercy.

Vandeweghe has one of the fastest serves in the women’s game and won 78% of points on first serve, as well as bludgeoning 30 winners to Kerber’s seven.

She took big cuts at the ball and it paid off. It was just her night.


In other results, four-time champion Roger Federer beat fifth seed Kei Nishikori 6-7 6-4 6-1 4-6 6-3. At 35, Federer becomes the oldest man to make a grand slam quarterfinal since a 39-year-old Jimmy Connors in 1991.

The match itself was entertaining and high-quality. Nishikori raced to a 5-1 lead only to see it evaporate before finally winning the first set via a tiebreak. A dazzling Federer stormed through the next two sets before overcoming a late charge by the Japanese, who needed treatment on his back in the fifth set.

There were wins, too, for Stan Wawrinka, Garbine Muguruza and Venus Williams – all advancing to the last eight. But two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova was brushed aside by compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

[YouTube – GrandSlam Highlights III]

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Farhan Shah

A recent addition to the roster, Melburnian Farhan is a sports nut who has come on board to provide golf, tennis, AFL and rugby league coverage for CBS.

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