Hubert Hurkacz withstood a mid-match revival from Denis Shapovalov on Friday to book his spot in the fourth round at the Australian Open for the first time. In a thrilling clash that swung one way and then the other, the Pole raised his level on serve in a tight fifth set to advance 7-6(3), 6-4, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3 after three hours and 40 minutes.
Competing in front of a full house on Margaret Court Arena, Hurkacz took early control, firing 18 winners across the first two sets to move ahead. However, Shapovalov refused to go away. The Canadian World No. 22 upped his level to force a decider, moving inside the baseline to strike his backhand with more precision and power as he forced Hurkacz deep.
In a tight fifth set, it was Hurkacz who regained momentum, though. The World No. 11 gained the only break of serve in the sixth game and won 91 per cent (20/22) of his first-serve points to improve to 4-1 in his ATP Head2Head series against Shapovalov.
“From two sets up, Denis then started to play some really good tennis,” Hurkacz said. “He is such a good competitor and player, so I hope you guys had fun watching us compete.
“I needed to find some rhythm on my serve. I knew I would get a look on the return games, but I was just trying to stay in there. It was really tough. He was playing really well. It was super tough but it was super fun to play. The crowd was giving a lot of energy.”
Hurkacz will next meet seventh seed Daniil Medvedev or 29th seed Sebastian Korda in the fourth round. The 25-year-old’s best result at a major came at Wimbledon, where he reached the semi-finals in 2021.
In other action, Karen Khachanov also reached the fourth round in Melbourne for the first time when he moved past American Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(9) in three hours and 33 minutes.
“I don’t know what to say. Crazy situations like this in tennis, you live them,” Khachanov said. “I am really happy I could finish it four. I think it was a really high-level match from both of us. I know it is Frances’ birthday, so I am sorry! Hopefully I can keep going.”
In an impressive display, the 18th seed maintained his perfect record against the American as he crushed 52 winners to improve to 3-0 in their ATP Head2Head series. Khachanov, who had fallen at the third-round stage in his four previous appearances in Melbourne, will aim to reach the quarter-finals at a major for the fourth time when he plays Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka. The 27-year-old earlier defeated Rafael Nadal conqueror Mackenzie McDonald 7-6(6), 6-3, 6-2.