Melbourne: Top seed Andy Murray sped into the Australian Open third round on Wednesday but bad boy Nick Kyrgios was booed and accused of not trying as he crashed to a stormy defeat.
Roger Federer progressed despite unexpected resistance and women’s world number one Angelique Kerber celebrated her 29th birthday with a hard-fought win. Murray painfully rolled an ankle and needed treatment in the third set against Russian qualifier Andrey Rublev, but he shook off the problem to win 6-3, 6-0, 6-2. While the world number one cruised, Kyrgios stood accused of tanking, or giving up, during his 1-6, 6-7 (1/7), 6-4, 6-2, 10-8 loss to Andreas Seppi.
Kyrgios, who is returning from a ban for “lack of best efforts” in a match in Shanghai, played lethargically and casually, especially in the fifth set. “Obviously it’s not the greatest thing to hear,” he said of the booing. “I didn’t have the best preparation coming into the Australian Open. Pretty banged up, my body.” “I don’t even know what the score was in the end. Was it 10-8? 10-8 in the fifth, getting booed off, definitely not the best feeling.”
Tennis legend John McEnroe said Kyrgios’ lack of effort was a “black eye for the sport”. Kyrgios explained that “my body was sore. I was hurting. “I mean, John McEnroe. Good on him. Great career. Good on him.” Earlier Federer was made to work by 200th-ranked Noah Rubin for a 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (7/3) win that set up a third-round assignment against his old rival Tomas Berdych.
“I know what he’s got. I don’t need to tell you where he’s beaten me,” Federer said of Berdych. “Then again I’ve played him here, played him on many occasions, as well, when it went my way.” Federer wasn’t the only leading player challenged in the second round as Kerber, the women’s defending champion, dropped a set against world number 89 Carina Witthoeft.
Britain’s Andy Murray serves to Andrey Rublev of Russia in their Australian Open second round match on Wednesday. (Photo: AP)
Kerber won 6-2, 6-7 (3/7), 6-2 before being treated to a rendition of “Happy Birthday” by the Rod Laver Arena crowd. In the men’s draw, Japanese fifth seed Kei Nishikori marched into the third round alongside former finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Nishikori posted a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 victory against Jeremy Chardy. France’s Tsonga, who is seeded 12th and was runner-up to Novak Djokovic in 2008, beat Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 to go through.
In the women’s draw, 36-year-old Venus Williams continued her smooth progress when she beat qualifier Stefanie Voegele 6-3, 6-2. Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova thrashed Australian wildcard Jaimee Fourlis 6-2, 6-1. And Britain’s Dan Evans claimed the highest-ranked scalp of his career when he stunned former US Open champion Marin Cilic, the world number seven.