12:15 a.m. (Thursday)
For the second time in three days, Novak Djokovic has faced questions about match-fixing.
On Wednesday after his 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 (3), Australian Open win over Quentin Halys of France, Djokovic was asked at a media conference if reports from an Italian newspaper that “you lost on purpose” were true. Djokovic replied “It’s not true.”
On Monday, the BBC and BuzzFeed News published reports alleging that tennis authorities had ignored widespread evidence of match-fixing involving 16 tennis players who have ranked in the top 50 over the past decade. It said that eight of those players, including a Grand Slam winner, were at this year’s Australian Open.
Djokovic was asked on Wednesday night about another report published by an Italian newspaper about a match he played in France in 2007.
After Djokovic replied “No,” he was told that the report dealt “with changing odds that have been discussed in the previous couple of days.”
“My response is that there’s always going to be, especially these days when there is a lot of speculations, this is now the main story in tennis, in sports world, there’s going to be a lot of allegations, so.. I have nothing more to say. I said everything I needed to say two days ago. You know, until somebody comes out with the real proof and evidence, it’s only a speculation for me.”
Petra Kvitova isn’t really sure what went wrong in her second-round loss to Australia’s Daria Gavrilova at Melbourne Park.
The two-time Wimbledon champion said she felt “a little tired” and “a little slow” and “a little bit weird” during her 6-4, 6-4 loss — the third time she’s fallen before the third round in the past four years.
“I think everything was wrong, actually. I felt a little bit tired and without the timing on the court so I was missing easy shots unfortunately and not really doing what I should,” she said.
“It’s a combination the physical and mental things with the nerves. I just feel a little bit weird.”
Kvitova’s preparations for the Australian Open were offset by a stomach virus she picked up at a warm-up tournament in China, but she wasn’t feeling any lingering effects on Wednesday.
“I’m not ill,” she said, adding jokingly, “Maybe in the head.”
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga came to the aid of a ball girl in distress and won accolades on social media from fans who called him a gentleman.
The No. 9-seeded Frenchman said he noticed that the ball girl was unwell during the third set of his match Wednesday, so he paused before serving and walked over to see what was wrong.
He put his hand on her back, and the ball girl handed Tsonga a ball she was holding. He then looped his arm through hers and escorted the ball girl off the court.
“I saw she was in trouble,” Tsonga said. “It was normal to help her out of the stadium. I hope she’s OK.”
The ball girl was fine, just feeling under the weather, according to tournament organizers. And Tsonga is through to the third round after beating Omar Jasika of Australia, 7-5, 6-1, 6-4.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova is out of the Australian Open, beaten 6-4, 6-4 by Russian-born Australian Daria Gavrilova.
Playing on Margaret Court Arena on Wednesday night, Gavrilova had one match point in the eighth game of the second set which the sixth-seeded Kvitova saved. The Czech player was broken in the last game, dropping serve for the fifth time in the match.
Gavrilova will next play No. 28 Kristina Mladenovic, who beat Nicole Gibbs 6-1, 7-6 (4).
“It was unreal. I was so nervous in the end, you probably could tell,” Gavrilova said.
Novak Djokovic has reached the third round of the Australian Open for the 10th consecutive year after defeating 19-year-old wild card-entry Quentin Halys of France 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 (3).
Djokovic was broken once by Halys in the third set, but recovered to close out the match on his second match point when the Frenchman hit into the net.
Halys got his first-ever ATP Tour win in the first round over Ivan Dodig.
Eugenie Bouchard compared her new tennis dress with a national flag — but chose the wrong one.
The 21-year-old Canadian described her lightweight tank dress for the Australian Open as having “red and white stripes like an American flag or something.”
Then she paused.
“Actually, red and white like Canada, I should say. Whoops!”
The mix-up gave the 2014 Australian Open semifinalist occasion to laugh, and blush, after losing her second-round match 6-4, 6-2 to No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska on Wednesday.
Fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska has ended Eugenie Bouchard’s strong start to the year with a 6-4, 6-2 win in a match featuring two former Wimbledon finalists in the second round at Melbourne Park.
Bouchard, who had a long layoff late last year after sustaining a concussion when she slipped and fell in a dressing room at the U.S. Open, was a finalist at last week’s Hobart International after making the quarterfinals the previous week in Shenzhen, China.
But on Wednesday night on Rod Laver Arena, Bouchard made 37 unforced errors, including a forehand long on match point, after wasting three breakpoint chances in that game.
Radwanska beat Bouchard in straight sets on clay in their only previous career meeting at the Madrid Masters in 2014.
Grigor Dimitrov has struggled to a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 wins over Marco Trungelliti of Argentina in a second-round match at Melbourne Park.
Next up for Dimitrov will be a much more formidable opponent in 17-time Grand Slam singles champion Roger Federer. Serving for the match on Court 6 after breaking Trungelliti’s service in the 11th game of the final set, Dimitrov clinched the match when the Argentinian player netted a backhand.
Federer advanced with a straight-sets win over Alexandr Dolgopolov to extend his streak to 17 years of reaching the third round or better at Melbourne Park.
Roger Federer says his 6-year-old twin daughters, Myla and Charlene, have started taking tennis lessons, but the sport’s great ambassador doesn’t necessarily hope they follow in his footsteps someday. “I’m happy if they won’t end up being on this court, actually,” Federer said after his second-round win over Alexandr Dolgopolov.
“I’d rather support them in another sport. Go see them be a super skier. That would be exciting.”
Part of the reason is he can’t see himself sitting in the player’s box watching his daughters’ matches after he retires.
“I think it’s 40 years on the tennis tour that doesn’t excite me, you know,” he said with a laugh. “I will support them all the way whatever they want to do, but I don’t see myself doing that right now.”
As Venus Williams slowly walked off court following her loss to Britain’s Johanna Konta on Tuesday, Australian fans may have wondered whether she’d be back for her 17th Australian Open next year.
Williams skipped her post-match news conference, incurring a $5,000 fine.
Her sister, Serena, didn’t offer many clues after her second-round win over Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei on Wednesday.
“I don’t really know,” Serena said. “I would assume (Venus will be back). She’s never mentioned anything about not being here, not competing.”
The 35-year-old Venus was the oldest woman in this year’s Australian Open field. She’s also just two Grand Slams shy of tying the record for the most-ever majors played by a woman — 71, set by American Amy Frazier.
One thing for sure: the Williams sisters aren’t playing doubles, so that will be the last sighting of Venus this year.
Roger Federer has moved into the third round at the Australian Open with a 6-3, 7-5, 6-1 win over Alexandr Dolgopolov.
Federer improved his career record against the Ukrainian player to 3-0 without facing a break point in the 93-minute match.
Bright sunshine has returned to Melbourne Park and the roofs on all three arenas are open after late-morning rain forced about an hour-long delay to the start of play on outdoor courts.
Serena Williams has swiftly moved through to the third round at Melbourne Park with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei in exactly one hour.
Williams has only fallen in the second round of a Grand Slam tournament twice in her career — losing to her sister Venus in her Australian Open debut in 1998, and being beaten by Garbine Muguruza at the 2014 French Open.
Williams had 26 winners, including seven aces in the match. She even hit one shot around the post in the match, which she said afterward was the first in her career. “Yay, never too late,” she said.
Williams’ next opponent will be an 18-year-old — she’ll face the winner of the match between Russia’s Daria Kasatkina and Croatia’s Ana Konjuh, who were both born the year before Williams’ first Australian Open.
Kei Nishikori reached the third round of the Australian Open for the sixth consecutive year, beating Austin Krajicek 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3 on Margaret Court Arena.
The No. 7-seeded Nishikori, a two-time quarterfinalist here, dropped serve just once when he was serving for the second set but recovered to win a tight tiebreaker.
Nishikori, the 2014 U.S. Open finalist, is working with 1989 French Open winner Michael Chang as coach and says the extra attention to detail is good for his game.
“It’s always great support from Michael. That’s why I’ve been playing really well,” Nishikori said. “He’s a very nice guy outside of the court — on the court he’s very tough.”
Kateryna Bondarenko notched one of her biggest wins since coming out of retirement after having a baby in 2013, beating two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 7-5 in the second round at Melbourne Park.
The 92nd-ranked Bondarenko returned to the tour in 2014 and had failed to get through qualifying at four majors before making the main draw at last year’s U.S. Open.
“I retired because I had a baby and I didn’t really think to come back,” the Ukrainian said after the match. “Suddenly I missed tennis so much so I decide to come back and compete again.”
Bondarenko, who has a daughter, Karin, is one of three mothers in the Australian Open singles draw, along with Tatjana Maria of Germany and Evgeniya Rodina of Russia.
Kuznetsova, the 23rd seed, beat No. 2-ranked Simona Halep last week en route to winning the Sydney International title.
Venus Williams has been fined $5,000 by tournament organizers for skipping a news conference after her first-round exit at the Australian Open.
The Australian Open announced the fine Wednesday after a meeting by the committee of Grand Slam supervisors.
On Tuesday, No. 8-seeded Williams trudged off Rod Laver Arena after her surprising 6-4, 6-3 loss to Johanna Konta, a British player making her debut in the Grand Slam’s main draw.
The $5,000 fine is the highest a female player has faced for skipping a mandatory news conference, and the second highest since Marat Safin was fined $10,000 at the 2001 French Open.
Maria Sharapova became the first player to advance to the third round at the Australian Open when she beat Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 6-2, 6-1.
Sharapova’s match on Rod Laver Arena was one of only three that began on schedule — the other two were also in stadiums with covered roofs — after light rain delayed play for just over an hour on outside courts.
The fifth-seeded Sharapova’s only stumbles came when she her had her service broken twice in the opening set, including when she held two set points while serving at 5-1.
Sharapova, who won the title here in 2008 and has reached three other finals, completed the win in 71 minutes and will next play either Lauren Davis of the U.S. or Magadalena Rybarikova of Slovakia.
Light rain is falling at Melbourne Park, delaying the start of play on side courts at the Australian Open on Wednesday.
Tournament officials said play would not start on those courts until at least 11:30 a.m. Ball boys and girls were sponging the courts off.
Melbourne Park has three stadiums with retractable roofs — Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and Hisense Arena. Play began as scheduled on those courts, including the opening match on Rod Laver between fifth-seeded Maria Sharapova and Aliaksandra Sasnovich.