Rafael Nadal rounded off a comfortable first week at the Australian Open with a straight-sets win over Cameron Norrie to reach the last 16.

The Spaniard triumphed 7-5 6-2 7-5 in two hours and 14 minutes on Rod Laver Arena on Saturday.

Nadal was short of his brilliant best but a third-round victory never looked in doubt from the moment he emerged triumphant from a competitive opening set.

He will face number 16 seed Fabio Fognini, who defeated home favourite Alex de Minaur, in the fourth round.

The world number two will fancy his chances of a first Australian Open title since 2009, especially with defending champion Novak Djokovic struggling with an injury.

Nadal is yet to drop a set or even be taken to a tie-break at the tournament but he almost was by Norrie in the first meeting between the players.

World number 69 Norrie claimed the first break of the match in the fifth game when Nadal found the net with a forehand.

But the 20-time grand slam champion immediately broke back and then pivotally struck again while Norrie was serving to stay in the set at 6-5.

Norrie was unable to force a break point in the match, with Nadal racing clear to break twice and secure the second set.

The Briton saved two break points early in the third set but that was only delaying the inevitable.

It again looked like Norrie would force a tie-break, but once more Nadal struck when it mattered at 6-5, a forehand winner setting up match point that was converted when his opponent sent a backhand wide.

Data Slam: Nadal punishes Norrie second serve

Norrie won only seven of 30 points on his second serve, his 23 per cent win rate falling well short of Nadal in that category (18/26, 69 per cent). The match was competitive apart from the second set, where four winners and 14 unforced errors from Norrie meant Nadal did not need to do much to go two ahead and put the result beyond doubt.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Norrie– 25/43
Nadal– 33/35

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Norrie– 9/4
Nadal– 7/1

BREAK POINTS WON
Norrie– 1/1
Nadal– 5/12

Ash Barty battled back to win both sets against Ekaterina Alexandrova and book a place in the fourth round of the Australian Open. 

The world number one triumphed 6-2 6-4 after one hour and 21 minutes on court, though there was no crowd present to cheer on the home favourite due to the five-day lockdown in place in Victoria. 

Barty admitted that, with fans having been allowed into Melbourne Park earlier in the tournament, there was a different – if not completely unpleasant – atmosphere to proceedings in the evening session on Margaret Court Arena.

"It's very strange, it changes the sound of the court a little bit," the Australian – who played with her left thigh heavily strapped having pulled out of doubles duty on Friday – said during her on-court interview.

"I love the crowd, but I love the sound the ball makes. It feels a bit like practice."

Barty lost her opening service game as she quickly fell 2-0 behind at the start of the contest, though she hit back impressively to take the opener against the 29th seed.

The 2019 French Open champion claimed six successive games, hitting just five winners as the policy of keeping the ball in play paid off thanks to 16 unforced errors from her opponent. 

Alexandrova was more consistent in the second set, leading to a break of serve that she quickly consolidated to make the score 4-2. 

However, the Russian was unable to cling on to her advantage and, when serving to stay in the match, let slip two opportunities to extend proceedings. Barty will next face Shelby Rogers, who knocked out 21st seed Anett Kontaveit in straight sets.

Elina Svitolina said playing behind closed doors at the Australian Open felt "a bit disturbing" after having fans in attendance earlier in the week.

The Ukrainian fifth seed booked her spot in the fourth round in Melbourne with a 6-4 6-0 victory over Yulia Putintseva on Saturday.

But no fans were in attendance on Margaret Court Arena as Victoria started a five-day lockdown due to coronavirus.

Svitolina, who will face Jessica Pegula in the last 16, said she felt the difference.

"It was very different conditions. I played a night match at 7:00 with a good crowd. Now it was completely different. It was for sure a bit disturbing, I would say, in some ways sad," she told a news conference.

"But it is what it is. I had to accept. I had to have a good mindset, not thinking too much about that. I just tried to focus on my game."

Svitolina reached the fourth round in Melbourne for the third time in four years after mixing 18 winners with 20 unforced errors.

But the 26-year-old said the lack of fans meant the third-round encounter felt like a practice match.

"It feels like that. I actually had few thoughts about it today. It feels like this. I tried to convince myself that it's a grand slam and that we are playing an important match. I have to focus on my match," Svitolina said.

"But for sure there's some thoughts and there is I say some low moments that can sneak into the mind. It's what we have to deal with. I'm trying my best to do it."

Novak Djokovic insists there is a real danger he may withdraw from the Australian Open, with an ultrasound on an abdominal injury planned for Saturday.

The eight-time champion at Melbourne Park pulled off a dramatic five-set win over American Taylor Fritz to reach round four, but it came at what could prove a high cost.

After battling through two tight sets to forge ahead in the match, Djokovic was jolted early in the third by a sudden "tear", as he put it.

Although painkillers allowed him to continue and fend off a Fritz comeback, the world number one might be advised by doctors that his race in Australia is run for this year.

He is due to face Milos Raonic on Sunday in round four, and the Canadian is a player that Djokovic holds an 11-0 winning career record against. This time Raonic could be gifted a walkover.

Explaining the injury blow, and what comes next, Djokovic said: "Everything was working fine for me, and then beginning of the third set I made this quick move on the return going to the forehand, rotating there, and I just felt a tear, I felt something happen.

"Went out for medical timeout when I was tested, evaluated. I have huge pain, I took the highest dose of anti-inflammatories possible.

"It did kick in end of fourth, beginning of the fifth when I actually started to move and I could actually start to rally with him from back of the court.

"Until that moment, it was only serve for me and kind of hoping and praying that I'm going to get an easy ball after my serve so I could just go for it. That's what I've done.

"I honestly don't know how I won this match. I'm very proud, at the same time sad and worried, because it's definitely something serious happening with my injury.

"I don't have much time to recover for the next match. Definitely not training tomorrow [Saturday]."

The 33-year-old Serbian would not want to risk worsening the problem, given he has plenty to play for over the rest of the year.

However, he is chasing grand slam success wherever he can get it, given he trails Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal by three on the all-time list.

Djokovic's disqualification for hitting a ball that struck a line judge at the US Open last year was followed by defeat to Nadal in the French Open final, and now his luck may be out again.

Once the tests take place on Saturday, there should be a greater sense of clarity in Djokovic's mind.

Setting the scene for what should have been a relaxed day of practice but is now a crucial day in his championship, Djokovic stressed he hoped to be able to continue.

He said of his Saturday plan: "I'm coming here to evaluate more with the doctor and medical team, and do some ultrasound and understand what's really going on so that the doctor and medical team can prescribe best possible treatment and the only possible treatment that I could even have the slightest chance to go out in less than 48 hours."

Novak Djokovic is unsure whether he will be able to play in the Australian Open fourth round after struggling with an abdominal injury in his five-set win over Taylor Fritz.

The world number one survived a huge injury scare to get past Fritz in the third round, winning 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena.

Eight-time Australian Open champion Djokovic appeared to injure his abdominal region during the third set.

It was a match which started on Friday in front of a crowd and finished on Saturday without fans as Victoria went into a five-day lockdown.

Fritz appeared set to reach the fourth round of a major for the first time in his career, but Djokovic suddenly came to life in the fifth set.

Next up for Djokovic is Milos Raonic, who he has beaten in all 11 of their meetings, on Sunday.

But the Serbian is concerned by his injury and was unable to commit to saying he would be able to take to the court.

"I really don't know," Djokovic said when asked for his thoughts about facing Raonic.

"Right now, I know it's a tear, definitely, of the muscle so I don't know if I'll manage to recover from that in less than two days.

"I don't know. I don't know. I don't know if I'm going to step out on the court or not.

"I am very proud of this achievement. Let's see what happens."

Djokovic felt for American Fritz after his brave defeat and discussed what he had gone through during a contest lasting three hours and 25 minutes.

He continued: "I want to congratulate Taylor for a great fight. I'm sorry that he lost the match obviously.

"I don't know. I just tried to stay in there and I was hopeful that whatever is happening there is going to feel better.

"Towards the end of the fourth it started to feel better, third and fourth set I just served and couldn't do much on the return.

"I was just going for my shots, was hitting two first serves and it worked, it worked well.

"This is definitely one of the more special wins in my life. It doesn't matter what round it is and against who it is.

"Under these kinds of circumstances, to pull this through is definitely something I'll remember forever."

Novak Djokovic survived a huge injury scare to get past Taylor Fritz in the Australian Open third round - but his title defence could be in ruins.

The world number one and eight-time champion in Melbourne edged Fritz 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena.

But the 17-time grand slam winner appeared to injure his abdominal region during the third set of the contest, which started on Friday in front of a crowd and finished on Saturday without fans as Victoria went into a five-day lockdown due to coronavirus concerns.

Fritz appeared set to reach the fourth round for the first time in his major career, but Djokovic suddenly came to life in the fifth set.

Next up for Djokovic is Milos Raonic, who he has beaten in all 11 of their meetings, but whether the Serbian is fit enough to play remains to be seen.

Djokovic told Eurosport he suspected he had suffered a torn muscle and that it was "in the clouds" whether he would be able to continue in the tournament.

Djokovic broke for 3-1 against Fritz and crucially dug himself out of a 15-40 hole in the seventh game, but a forehand into the net saw him fail to serve out the set.

Yet Djokovic was close to flawless in the tie-break, winning the first six points before closing it out, and then breaking to begin the second set.

That spurred Djokovic to win the second before the drama followed.

He took a medical timeout after the third game of the third set and then repeatedly required treatment on his abdominal region.

The injury seemed to be bothering Djokovic, who was broken after sending a forehand long in the eighth game, and Fritz closed out the set.

A struggling Djokovic was broken again in the third game of the fourth set before fans were forced to leave Rod Laver Arena ahead of restrictions being introduced in Victoria, but Fritz levelled the match.

Djokovic looked far healthier to begin the final set and he broke for 4-2 with a brilliant forehand winner after a baseline exchange, winning four straight games on his way to a post-midnight victory.

Data Slam: Djokovic's American dominance continues … just
Djokovic extended his winning streak against Americans at tour level to 17 matches. His last loss to an American opponent came against Sam Querrey at Wimbledon in 2016.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Djokovic – 52/53
Fritz – 62/45

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Djokovic – 15/5
Fritz – 24/1

BREAK POINTS WON
Djokovic – 4/9
Fritz – 3/12

Naomi Osaka and Garbine Muguruza set up a blockbuster clash at the Australian Open, while Aryna Sabalenka cannot wait to face Serena Williams.

As Williams was tested before winning through, Osaka and Muguruza raced through their third-round outings in Melbourne on Friday.

Osaka and Muguruza dropped just seven games between them to set up what will be their first meeting, which will take place without fans in attendance as Victoria prepares to move into a five-day lockdown beginning on Saturday due to coronavirus concerns.

Sabalenka also progressed and will next face Williams, while Simona Halep cruised through.

 

OSAKA, MUGURUZA STORM THROUGH

Osaka, the three-time grand slam champion, brushed past fellow seed Ons Jabeur 6-3 6-2 in the third round.

The Japanese star, winner of the Australian Open in 2019, is looking forward to facing fellow major champion Muguruza.

"I've practised with her once, but it was on grass, and I was younger. It was maybe like a couple years ago," Osaka said.

"But I just remember being really impressed by her, and for me, I've watched her win Wimbledon and win the French Open when I was younger, and I've always wanted to have the chance to play her. So for me, this is really exciting."

A finalist at the Yarra Valley Classic last week, Muguruza's strong start to the Australian Open continued with a 6-1 6-1 thrashing of Zarina Diyas.

"I don't think we've played each other before. Just looking forward for a fourth round, a good fourth round, playing the top players," Muguruza – who has lost just 10 games in the first three rounds – said ahead of facing Osaka. "I feel like that's always the right way, you know, a good sign. Just expecting a good match."

 

JOB DONE FOR SERENA

Williams' bid for a record-equalling 24th grand slam singles title remains on track after overcoming Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova 7-6 (7-5) 6-2.

In her 101st Australian Open match, Williams secured her 90th career victory in Melbourne. The 39-year-old also improved her overall slam record to 360-51 – Martina Navratilova (306-49) is the only other player to pass 300 wins in the Open Era.

Next up for Williams is Sabalenka, who was too good for Ann Li, winning 6-3 6-1 to reach a major fourth round for just the second time in her career and first in Melbourne.

The Belarusian seventh seed is not daunted by the task facing her when she meets the American for the first time.

"I want to get this thrill. Can I say thrill? I said it right. So it's going to be a thrill. But, yeah. I'm going to do everything I can," Sabalenka said.

 

HALEP THROUGH AS SEEDS CRUISE

Halep reached the fourth round in Melbourne for the sixth time with a convincing 6-1 6-3 win over Russian 32nd seed Veronika Kudermetova.

Awaiting the two-time major winner in the fourth round is Iga Swiatek after the Polish 15th seed got past Fiona Ferro 6-4 6-3.

Swiatek thrashed Halep 6-1 6-2 on her way to the French Open title last year.

Marketa Vondrousova, the 2019 French Open runner-up, reached the fourth round of the Australian Open for the first time after beating Sorana Cirstea 6-2 6-4.

Up next for the Czech 19th seed is Hsieh Su-wei, who battled past Sara Errani 6-4 2-6 7-5 after two hours and 44 minutes.

Errani had won her previous three meetings with Hsieh in straight sets, including winning a set 6-0 - known as a 'bagel' in tennis parlance - in each of those victories.

It meant Hsieh, 35, had a simple plan against the Italian.

"I don't remember when I lose to someone but someone reminded me I eat the bagel every time so I said, 'Okay, I will try to not take any bagel today'," she said.

Fans were forced to leave Rod Laver Arena with Novak Djokovic's third-round match at the Australian Open still in progress. 

With Victoria entering a five-day lockdown from Saturday due to coronavirus concerns, spectators were told to leave Melbourne Park before 23:30 local time (12:30 GMT). 

Restrictions were coming into place in Victoria from 23:59 local time (12:59 GMT). 

Djokovic's clash against Taylor Fritz was the only match still in progress, although fans were informed to leave amid increasing drama. The world number one led by two sets to one but was struggling with a suspected abdominal injury in the fourth. 

There were boos when the announcement was made, with a message also displayed inside the arena. Play was briefly suspended as fans were moved out. 

No spectators will be allowed at the year's first grand slam for the next five days, although the tournament will continue. 

Dominic Thiem came from behind to edge Nick Kyrgios in a five-set epic in the Australian Open third round on Friday.

Thiem, last year's runner-up in Melbourne, fought back to win 4-6 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-4 on John Cain Arena.

The Austrian third seed was unable to match Kyrgios' energy levels early on, but the reigning US Open champion responded to reach the fourth round of a major for the 15th time in his career.

Thiem, who will face Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round, was in impressive form after his slow start, finishing with 57 winners and just 28 unforced errors.

Kyrgios was getting the crowd – full of energy ahead of Victoria going into a five-day lockdown from Saturday due to coronavirus concerns – involved from the warm-up, while Thiem appeared flat.

An underarm ace saw Kyrgios take a two-sets-to-love lead as he looked in control before Thiem responded.

Coming from 15-40 down in the opening game of the third set, Thiem won 20 consecutive points on serve.

Kyrgios steadied and held after a marathon game to begin the fourth set, but he could not deny Thiem – who continued to hold serve comfortably – in the ninth as the Austrian broke with a cross-court forehand pass.

A point penalty for ball abuse appeared to bring Kyrgios to life, but Thiem saved a break point and served out the set.

The crucial and only break of the fifth set came for Thiem in the seventh game after several fine returns and he closed out his victory with a spectacular backhand winner down the line.

Naomi Osaka admitted it was "a bit funny" to be deemed an essential worker as the Australian Open goes on.

The year's first grand slam is set to continue without fans from Saturday as Victoria heads into a five-day lockdown amid coronavirus concerns.

Professional athletes have been deemed "essential workers", meaning the Australian Open can continue.

Osaka, who raced into the fourth round with a 6-3 6-2 victory over Ons Jabeur on Friday, said that seemed strange.

Asked how she felt about being described as an essential worker, the Japanese star told a news conference: "Well, I'm not really sure.

"That kind of seems a bit funny. But I don't know, I don't make the rules. I'm just here just trying to have fun."

Three-time grand slam champion Osaka will face Garbine Muguruza in a blockbuster fourth-round clash.

Serena Williams labelled Victoria's five-day lockdown "rough" as the Australian Open prepares to go behind closed doors amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Fans will not be allowed to attend Melbourne Park - where crowds have been capped at 30,000 per day - from 11:59pm (local time) on Friday until Wednesday after the Victorian government announced a new state-wide lockdown to control an outbreak of the UK COVID-19 strain.

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews made the announcement as Williams booked her spot in the fourth round of the Australian Open, where the 23-time grand slam champion overcame Anastasia Potapova 7-6 (7-5) 6-2.

"I didn't know at all until the match was over. I think it's good that I didn't know," seven-time Australian Open champion Williams told reporters when asked about the lockdown.

"It's rough. It's going to be a rough few days for I think everyone. But we'll hopefully get through it."

American superstar Williams added: "It's not ideal. It's been really fun to have the crowd back, especially here. It's been really cool.

"But, you know what, at the end of the day we have to do what's best. Hopefully it will be all right."

Williams - stuck on 23 majors since winning the 2017 Australian Open in pursuit of Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 - was pushed to the limit by Russian teenager Potapova but prevailed on Rod Laver Arena.

The 39-year-old Williams - who has played and won more matches than any other woman in the tournament's history - celebrated her 90th Australian Open victory in her 101st contest.

"It was good to get through that match," said former world number one Williams as seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka awaits in the last 16. "The first set was extremely tight. I was a little tight, but it worked out. Was able to play a little more free in the second set."

The Australian Open will continue without supporters after Victoria announced a five-day lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

This year's delayed Australian Open had started on Monday with a limited amount of fans - capped at 30,000 per day at Melbourne Park - due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The Victorian government announced a new lockdown on Friday to control an outbreak of the UK coronavirus strain, state premier Daniel Andrews said.

Victoria's new state-wide restrictions will be introduced from 11.59pm on Friday - with reigning men's champion Novak Djokovic still scheduled to close out the day - until Wednesday.

"Any number of other large and small professional sport events, they will function essentially as a workplace," Andrews told reporters. "But they will not function as an entertainment event, because there will be no crowds.

"And the workforce will be the minimum that is needed in order for that to be COVID-safe and safe in lots of other contexts."

In response, the Australian Open released a statement while tournament director Craig Tiley insisted the slam will continue.

"Tennis Australia continues to work with the government to ensure the health and safety of everyone," the Australian Open said in a statement.

"The Victorian government has announced a five day lockdown commencing at 11:59pm on Friday. Australian Open sessions today and tonight will continue as planned with COVIDSafe protocols in place.

"We are notifying ticketholders, players and staff that there will be no fans onsite at the AO for five days, commencing from Saturday 13 February.

"Full refunds will be available for anyone who has tickets for these sessions and they will be advised on how to apply as soon as possible.  

"The AO broadcast-only contingency plan will commence from Saturday 13 February until restrictions are lifted. Play will continue uninterrupted on the broadcast, albeit without spectators onsite."

The Australian Open was due to get underway in January, but the COVID-19 crisis forced the year's first slam to be pushed back until February.

The lead-in tournaments across the ATP and WTA Tours took place behind closed doors in Melbourne.

Serena Williams remains on track to claim a record-equalling 24th grand slam title after overcoming Anastasia Potapova in a hard-fought battle en route to the Australian Open last 16. 

Williams - stuck on 23 majors since winning the 2017 Australian Open in pursuit of Margaret Court's all-time record - was pushed to the limit by Russian teenager Potapova but prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 in Melbourne on Friday.

Next up for seven-time Australian Open winner Williams is seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka.

Williams - who has played and won more matches than any other woman in the tournament's history - had only lost four times at a slam to a player ranked outside the top 50 and twice to players outside the top 100.

But she was challenged by Potapova in an error-riddled and difficult opening set on Rod Laver Arena, where the unheralded Russian took the match to her superstar opponent.

Williams hit 22 unforced errors to just 12 winners, faced 11 break points as she was broken twice, and saved a pair of set points en route to a tense tie-break.

Maintaining her challenge, Potapova led 4-2 and 5-3 in the tie-break, but Williams was up to the task - closing out the set in 61 minutes.

Potapova, who only broke the American's serve on one occasion in last year's opening-round loss at Melbourne Park, was not deflated following the tie-break and broke Williams in the first game of the second set.

But like the first set, Potapova was unable to hold serve and Williams took full advantage - breaking twice to secure a 16th fourth-round berth in Melbourne.

 

Data Slam: Williams rolls on in Melbourne
In her 101st Australian Open match, Williams secured her 90th career victory in Melbourne. The 39-year-old also improved her overall slam record to 360-51 - Martina Navratilova (306-49) is the only other player to pass 300 wins in the Open Era.
 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Williams – 19/31
Potapova – 18/28

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Williams – 9/4
Potapova – 2/8

BREAK POINTS WON
Williams – 5/8
Potapova – 3/12

Ash Barty and partner Jennifer Brady withdrew from their doubles clash at the Australian Open amid fitness concerns over the world number one.

Barty is in the spotlight after her thigh was heavily strapped during Thursday's 6-1 7-6 (9-7) victory over fellow Australian Daria Gavrilova in the women's singles.

Australian star and 2019 French Open champion Barty was scheduled to team up with Brady for Friday's doubles contest against Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka, but the duo pulled out in Melbourne.

Barty did play down the severity of the thigh issue after defeating Gavrilova, with 29th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova awaiting in the third round at Melbourne Park.

"The bandage is very big, but that's more just support so that the tape itself doesn't fall off. It's not a very subtle tape job, you often see it on a lot of the girls," Barty told a news conference on Thursday.

"The guys can hide it beneath their shorts a little bit better. Just a little bit of support. I played a lot of matches in the last 10 days after not playing for 12 months, which is natural.  It's more of an assistance than anything else."

Barty added: "It came on early Tuesday, warming up for the match. But, yeah, obviously it's not affecting the way that I can play in any way.

"It's just more giving the leg some assistance to make sure it doesn't get to a point where it's going to affect me."

Last year, Barty became the first Australian woman to reach the Australian Open semi-finals since Wendy Turnbull in 1984.

The most recent finalist from the home nation was Turnbull in 1980, while Chris O'Neil was the last champion in 1978.

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