Photo: Paul ZimmerJuan Martin del Potro (ARG)
The heat continued to rise on day four of the Australian Open as play was suspended for four hours during the afternoon when the temperature peaked before a thunderstorm then delayed play later in the evening on the outside courts.
The highest-profile casualty of the day was Juan Martin Del Potro who was beaten by world No.62 Roberto Bautista Agut 46 63 57 64 75. The Argentine had been in good form in the lead up to the event taking the title in Sydney last week but didn’t have the answers at key stages of the match.
“I'm so happy for the victory today. It was one of my best wins in my career. He's a great player, one of the best in the world, and I could beat him. I'm so happy because of that,” exclaimed an obviously delighted Bautista Agut after the match.
The 25-year old Spaniard was bidding to reach the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time having lost at this stage in four previous attempts and took the game to Del Potro from the start producing a total of 72 winners over the course of the match.
“I think he play a great match during the four hours. It's tough when you play very high level during four hours...I was close,” explained the world No.5 who twice let a set lead slip through his hands and is now on a run of seven straight losses in five-set matches.
“In every moment what I have, he play unbelievable shot. In breakpoint down, he serves well. He made winners with forehands, backhands, and he play always to the line very often during the match. When you don't have that little luck on your side, it's another thing negative to play.”
There were further five-set losses for two other seeds in the top half of the men’s draw with Donald Young causing an upset against Andreas Seppi and Teymuraz Gabashvili taking out the No.31 seed Fernando Verdasco.
Gilles Simon avoided the same fate as he came from behind to beat Marin Cilic 46 76(3) 67(7) 61 62 in a back-and-forth encounter that lasted three hours 57 minutes. The Frenchman has spent a total of just shy of eight and a half hours on court for his opening two matches and now faces countryman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who is yet to drop a set in the tournament.
There was further joy for the French as Benoit Paire edged out Nick Kyrgios having been two sets down in the last match of the day on court, which concluded at around 01:45 in the morning local time, 67(5) 67(5) 64 62 62.
There was much less drama for the world No.1 Rafael Nadal who beat wild card Thanasi Kokkinakis in straight sets and will now meet Gael Monfils in what will be one of the most anticipated matches of the round.
Andy Murray and Roger Federer also progressed to remain on course for a quarterfinal showdown as they each dropped just nine games on the way to victory.
Maria Sharapova faced the toughest of tests to progress into the third round as she outlasted Italy’s Karin Knapp in a three hour 28 minute marathon on Rod Laver Arena in the heat of the day.
Having split the opening sets the pair then traded breaks in the decider as the world No.3 struggled to impose herself on the match. The 2008 champion finally got the key break in the 17th game of the set and went on the serve out a 63 46 108 victory.
There were more straightforward victories for the other top seeds in the bottom half of the draw as Victoria Azarenka surrendered just five games to Barbora Zahlavova Strycova and Agnieszka Radwanska also won in straight sets.
Sloane Stephens overcame the loss of five straight games in the final set of her encounter with Ajla Tomljanovic to progress and there was further success for Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas as the qualifier set up a third round match against Simona Halep after seeing off Marina Erakovic.
The ITF produces men’s match notes at the Australian Open. For a full list of the notes click here.