World No 1 Ashleigh Barty Brings The Noise As Crowd-Less Australian Open Falls Quiet

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World primary Ashleigh Barty gave long-suffering Melbourne one thing to cheer as the house hope swept into the Australian Open final 16, at an empty Margaret Court Arena following a snap coronavirus lockdown on Saturday. Barty mentioned it was “very strange” to play behind closed doorways, a day after greater than 22,000 followers visited Melbourne Park, because the five-day, state-wide lockdown went into power. Barty’s easy 6-2, 6-4 win over Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova put her into the fourth spherical with out dropping a set, as she bids to grow to be the primary Australian winner since Chris O’Neil in 1978.

“It’s very strange, it changes the sound in the court a little bit,” Barty mentioned of the empty, 7,500-seat stadium.

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Six million folks in Victoria state, together with Melbourne, returned to lockdown after an outbreak of the extremely contagious UK pressure at an airport resort.

Australia’s second-biggest metropolis solely emerged from a four-month shutdown in October, and has since stayed just about virus-free.

The newest curbs triggered weird scenes late on Friday as Novak Djokovic’s injury-hit win over Taylor Fritz, was suspended at 11:30 pm native time to take away followers earlier than the midnight lockdown.

The defending champion’s match now hangs within the stability over the midriff damage he mentioned, might rule him out of his final 16 match in opposition to Milos Raonic.

Djokovic, the report eight-time Australian Open winner, skipped coaching and sought medical recommendation and remedy on Saturday. He is scheduled to play Canada’s Raonic late on Sunday.

The lack of Djokovic could be one other blow for the match, lowering the boys’s ‘Big Three’ to only one — Rafael Nadal — with Roger Federer already sidelined by damage.

‘Different vibe’

As play unfolded in Melbourne Park’s empty arenas on Saturday, former world primary Karolina Pliskova had a racquet-smashing tantrum en path to a 7-5, 7-5 defeat by fellow Czech Karolina Muchova.

Ukrainian fifth seed Elina Svitolina beat Yulia Putintseva 6-4, 6-0, and Russia’s males’s fourth seed Daniil Medvedev overcame buttock ache and a mid-match lapse in his 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 6-0 win over Filip Krajinovic of Serbia.

“It’s a different atmosphere, different vibe,” mentioned Greece’s world quantity six Stefanos Tsitsipas, after his 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 win over Mikael Ymer.

“But if I can win my next matches, the crowd will be back. It’s just five days, and I’ll be happy to see them back.”

Tsitsipas beat Ymer in a silent John Cain Arena — which was full of 1000’s of noisy followers late on Friday, for Australian participant Nick Kyrgios’s defeat by Dominic Thiem.

In the identical venue, Matteo Berrettini beat Russian seed Karen Khachanov 7-6 (7/1), 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/5) to arrange a gathering with Tsitsipas.

“I really miss the crowd, I have to be honest,” mentioned the Italian ninth seed.

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“Looking at a stadium like this and seeing it empty is not the best feeling. But we’re living in really tough times.”

Elsewhere Russia’s Andrey Rublev ended Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez’s report seventy fifth consecutive Grand Slam, to arrange a gathering with Norway’s Casper Ruud.

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