Australian Open 2018: Chung charges, Berdych blazes and top women stay true on Day 8

TENNIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN STOCK
Stock photograph of an Australian Open Tennis Ball. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO ARCHIVING

Before we get onto the story and performance of the tournament so far in Hyeon Chung’s brilliant victory over Novak, let me be clear. Roger Federer will not retain his title, and most likely won’t have enough to beat a Tomas Berdych playing his best stuff for years. The Swiss was as good as he needed to be today against the very promising Fucsovics  but – unless he is really saving himself for these bigger tests – then he is suddenly looking his age.

A bold, maybe foolish statement, but the age-defying tennis Roger was playing twelve months ago just isn’t there.

Anyway, to the main story, and  joining Federer and Berdych (who was again sublime in dismissing Fognini 1 4 and 4) was not the expected Djokovic and Thiem. Instead, it was a double upset and two matches high on quality.

First, Tennys Sangdren (who me and Sophie saw play in New York last year) outlasted and outhit Thiem who despite losing reinforced his claim as the brightest of future stars and just as relevant as last year. Journeyman Sangdren is something of a workhorse, but has the polish, repertoire and above all speed to really stake his claim on the tour.

But the story of the day was Chung’s performance against an injured but still god-like Djokovic. The Korean who lest we forget had already beaten Zverev in five, was Novakesque in his defence-turned-attack play and elasticity. The Serb, broken and bruised had no answer despite his obligatory comebacks in each set.

The women’s competition today produced no such shocks, but plenty of awe as Halep and Keyes brushed aside their opponents in the dangerous Osaka and accomplished Garcia. Keyes especially has steamrollered her way through. So too had Angie Kerber and Karolina Pliskova but both today had to dig deep to prevail. Pliskova’s win the more impressive against countrywoman Strycova. Kerber put an end to Su-Wei Hsieh’s dream run.

 

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