MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Fifth-seeded Andrey Rublev advanced to the fourth round of the Australian Open for the third time in four years with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 win over Dan Evans on Saturday.
Rublev hit 60 winners, including 10 aces.
“Every match I’m playing better and better,” Rublev said. “At the beginning of the year I lost a couple of close matches against really good players and lost a bit of confidence.”
Rublev, who will play either ninth-seeded Holger Rune or Ugo Humbert in the last 16, also thanked Evans for helping him out during the match by giving him a banana.
“I asked for a banana and they didn’t have any,” Rublev said. “Dan had asked for bananas earlier and had two and he just gave me one. He helped me with the energy.”
Belinda Bencic reached the fourth round for the first time since 2016 when she beat Camila Giorgi 6-2, 7-5 on Rod Laver Arena.
Bencic was broken when serving for the match at 5-4 but she broke in the following game and then served out to love for victory.
“I’m really happy I got a second chance to serve it out,” she said. “But overall I think it was a great match. (At 6-5) I just tried to relax. My coach (Dmitri Tursunov) was showing me relax (signals).”
Bencic, who plays either Aryna Sabalenka or Elise Mertens next, won the warm-up event in Adelaide before the Australian Open and has won eight matches in a row.
“I think a lot of credit goes to my coach,” she said. “We started working together at the end of October at the Billie Jean King Cup. We’re changing some things . . . I’m out of my comfort zone, so far it’s working well.”
Former top-ranked Karolina Pliskova also reached the last 16 with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Varvara Gracheva. Pliskova, who last made the second week in Melbourne in 2019, did not face a break point.
“My serve, it can be a really good weapon,” she said. “I’m not doing as much running from the baseline.”
Pliskova next plays Zhang Shaui, who ended the run of American qualifier Katie Volynets 6-3, 6-2.
Donna Vekic advanced to the fourth round for the second time in three years with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Nuria Parrizas Diaz of Spain. Vekic will meet either Czech players Marketa Vondrousova or Linda Fruhvirtova in the fourth round.
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