Australian Open Day 6: Serena Williams powers through to last 16, Nadal overcomes Zverev test

Serena Williams continued her quest towards a record-breaking 23rd grand slam title, with another dominating display against Nicole Gibbs to reach the last 16 of the Australian Open.

The world number one suffered a momentarily lapse while serving for the match at 5-2 and was broken for the first time, but Williams broke back immediately to seal a 6-1 6-3 victory in just over an hour, to stay on course for a seventh Australian Open title.

Serena Williams looks to win a record seventh Australian Open title image: rte.ie

Serena Williams looks to win a record seventh Australian Open title
image: rte.ie

16th seed Barbora Strycova stands in the 35-year-old’s way of a place int he quarter-finals, after the Czech set up a fourth round tie with the American after a 6-2 7-5 win over France’s Caroline Garcia.

British number one Johanna Konta continued to show she has what to takes to clinch a first grand slam title at the Australian Open, with the ninth seed beating former world number one Caroline Wozniacki to reach the fourth round.

It was a ninth win in a row for the 25-year-old as she cruised to victory over her Danish opponent 6-3 6-1, as she hopes to follow-up victory in the Sydney International by becoming Britain’s first female grand slam champion in four decades.

Up next for Konta is a last 16 match against Ekaterina Makarova, after the Russian upset sixth seed Dominika Cibulkova with a hard-fought 6-2 6-7 (3/7) 6-3 win against the Slovakian.

There was also an upset on show court two as unseeded American Jennifer Brady stunned 14th seed Elena Vesnina 7-6 (7/4) 6-2 to reach the fourth round of a grand slam for the first time.

Australia’s own Daria Gavrilova booked her place in the fourth round, as the 22nd seed also pulled off an upset against Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky by bagging a closely fought 6-3 5-7 6-4 win against the 12th seed.

Last year’s beaten US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova hopes to go one better in Melbourne and she overcame an early scare to remain on course for a first major title with a 4-6 6-0 10-8 win against Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia.

24-year-old Croatian Mirjana Lucic-Baroni reached the last 16 for the first time, as the veteran came from a set down to pick up a hard-fought 3-6 6-2 6-2 win over Greece’s Maria Sakkari.

On the men’s side of things, ninth seed Rafael Nadal was made to work for his place in the fourth round of the Australian Open as he overcame the threat of promising German Alexander Zverev in a five set thriller.

19-year-old Zverev’s big serve and brilliant backhand earned him a 2-1 lead after three sets, but the Spaniard battled back to take the game to a deciding set as fatigue began to set in on the 24th seed.

Zverev definitely proved he has what to takes to become a future grand slam champion but after he sent a forehand into the net, Nadal breathed a sigh of relief to secure an incredible 4-6 6-3 6-7 (5/7) 6-3 6-2 victory to remain on course for a second Australian Open title.

Nadal will hope that match did not take too much out of him as he prepares for a last 16 tie with Frenchman Gaels Monfils, who defeated Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3 7-6 (7/1) 6-4 in straight sets.

Rafael Nadal's last grand slam title came at the French Open in 2014 image: bbc.com

Rafael Nadal’s last grand slam title came at the French Open in 2014
image: bbc.com

Canada’s Milos Raonic was also made to dig deep for his place in the fourth round, with the third seed needing four sets to see off Frenchman Gilles Simon to remain on target for his first grand slam title.

Last year’s beaten Wimbledon finalist dropped his first set in Melbourne but it was only a minor setback for Raonic, as the 26-year-old remained composed to capture the decisive break point in the sixth game of the fourth set to seal a 6-2 7-6 (7/5) 3-6 6-3 victory.

13th seed Roberto Bautista Agut was victorious in the all-Spanish affair as he dumped out two-time Aussie Open semi-finalist David Ferrer 7-5 6-7 (6/8) 7-6 (7/3) 6-4 in a five set thriller to set up a last 16 clash with Raonic.

World number 117 Denis Istomin followed up his stunning victory over second seed Novak Djokovic with victory over 30th seed Pablo Carreno Busta, winning in four sets 6-4 4-6 6-4 4-6 6-2 to keep his dream run going.

Grigor Dmitrov will be the man standing in Istomin’s way of a place in the quarter-finals, after the Bulgarian easily swept Richard Gasquet aside, with a 6-3 6-2 6-4 straight sets win against the Frenchman.

Austria’s eight seed Dominic Thiem continued his quest towards a first major title, as the 23-year-old overcame the threat of Frenchman Benoit Paire in four sets 6-1 4-6 6-4 6-4 to reach the last 16 in Melbourne for the first time.

Thiem will meet 11th seed David Goffin in the last 16 in what should be a closely fought affair, with the Belgian impressing in his 6-3 6-2 6-4 straight sets third round win against Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic.

More results from day six Down Under, including the latest doubles action, can be found at this link.

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