Andrey Rublev, Aryna Sabalenka advance to Australian Open last 16 | tennis news

Fifth seed Andrey Rublev advanced to his last 16 clash with Holger Run at the Australian Open on Saturday and thanked opponent Dan Evans for giving him a boost by donning him a banana mid-match. The Russian advanced to the fourth round of the tournament for the third time after beating Britain 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 at the Margaret Court Arena. The Danish teenager will face Rooney for a place in the quarter-finals before beating ninth-seeded Frenchman Hugo Humbert 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (7/5).

Despite being ranked world number six, Rublev, who has won 13 ATP titles, has never reached the last eight at a Grand Slam.

He went a step further by beating his friend and 25th seed Evans, who threw him a banana as he ran out.

“I didn’t ask him, I asked the ball boy, but Danny asked for a banana earlier and he had two so he just said ‘take it’, and I grabbed it,” he said.

“He helped me with some energy, for sure. I have extra because I eat bananas,” he joked.

Rublev, who was beaten twice in warm-up events before the tournament, said his confidence grew as the Grand Slam progressed.

“Every match I’m playing better and better and I’m really happy because I lost a few players at the beginning of the season,” he said.

“I lost a bit of confidence, but I’ve been playing really good tennis since the first match (in Melbourne).”

Next he meets the dangerous Rooney, who pushed Novak Djokovic to a breakthrough season to win his first Masters title in Paris late last year.

Humbert, 19, suffered a fall and fractured right wrist that required treatment, despite twisting his ankle while stretching for a shot early in the match.

“Obviously it was painful, but I tried to focus on something else,” he said.

“I’m playing in the third round of a Grand Slam on such an amazing stage so I didn’t think about it and I just kept going.

“It was very difficult, especially after the fall, but I played better than expected, because I relaxed a lot.

“I feel every bit as confident, I really like the conditions here and the support is amazing,” he added.

Sabalenka-Bencic Melbourne showdown

Fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka advanced in straight sets to face Olympic champion Belinda Bencic in the last 16 of the Australian Open on Saturday.

The Belarusian beat 32nd-ranked Belgian Elise Mertens 6-2, 6-3 at the Margaret Court Arena to extend her growing status for this year’s first Grand Slam.

Sabalenka needed just 74 minutes to beat her former doubles partner — the pair have won five titles together, including the Australian Open in 2021 — but said it was not as easy as it looked.

“It’s really hard to play against him, especially. He’s a great player, an incredible fighter,” said the formidable Sabalenka, who has yet to win a major.

“I knew it was going to be tough. I’m very happy that I was able to focus from start to finish to win this match because he’s a fantastic player.”

Switzerland’s Bencic was just as convincing in her 6-2, 7-5 win over Italy’s Camilla Giorgi at Rod Laver Arena.

Sabalenka and Bencic are both in Australia this year.

They each won titles in Adelaide earlier this month, both are yet to drop a set in Melbourne and both are now on seven-match unbeaten runs.

Something will have to give when they make it to the quarter-finals on Monday.

“Sabalenka is a very aggressive player, she has a lot of power,” said Bencic, who is aiming to become only the second Swiss woman to win the Australian Open after 1997, 1998 and 1999 champion Martina Hingis.

Bencic, who last week returned to the world’s top 10 for the first time since 2021, has Sabalenka’s former coach Dmitry Tursunov in his corner for the fourth-round clash.

“Dmitri was his coach before, so he can help me a lot. I hope,” Bencic said.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)

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