2020 Australian Open Day 5: Qiang Wang stuns Serena Williams; Roger Federer comes back in fifth-set tiebreaker

Serena Williams of the U.S. reacts as she plays against China's Wang Qiang in their third round singles match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Serena Williams of the U.S. reacts as she plays against China's Wang Qiang in their third round singles match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. (AP/Lee Jin-man)

This post will be updated with action from Day 5 of the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Federer survives fifth-set tiebreaker

Roger Federer quite nearly joined the group of players upset on day 5 of the Australian Open. The No. 3 seed ran off six points in a row to come back in a fifth-set tiebreaker and overtake Australian John Millman, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (10-8).

Millman held control in the early points of the last tiebreaker, 8-4, until Federer fought back and tied it at 8-8 with a lob Millman reached, but returned too far. Federer got the next two points on a shot Millman put just deep again and a cross return to the corner.

“It was tough,” Federer said in the post-match interview. “Thank God it’s a super tiebreaker, or else I would have lost this one.

“John played a great match. He might as well have been here as well (in the interview) ... Great fight, good guy, as you said it came down to the wire at the end.

“He kept coming up with the goods and I thought, ok, I guess I tried. I didn’t play too bad after all and I was getting ready to explain myself in the press conference.”

It was his 100th match victory at the Australian Open, making him the first man or woman to win 100 at two majors in the Slam era. The other is Wimbledon.

The difference between Federer and Millman was razor thin, though Federer had four double faults and 22 unforced errors in the final fifth set. He was up in winners, 62-40, but had nearly double the unforced errors overall, 82-48.

He’ll face Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics in the next round. Federer and Williams have still yet to lose on the same day of a major, per the ESPN broadcast.

Gauff powers past Osaka

Coco Gauff, the 15-year-old American sensation, proved better in her second meeting with Naomi Osaka. In their second-ever meeting, Gauff cruised to a 6-3, 6-4 win in a slim 67 minutes.

Osaka, 22, is the defending Australian Open champion and had a similarly easy time with Gauff when they met at the U.S. Open four months ago. The fourth-ranked player in the world said it was a reality check.

Serena Williams upset in third round

Though she nearly came all the way back, Serena Williams’ run at the Australian Open came to an early end on Thursday.

Williams, after rallying back from an early hole to force a third set, fell to China’s Qiang Wang 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-5 in stunning fashion at Rod Laver Arena — marking her earliest exit from the tournament since 2006. Entering as the No. 8 seed, She is now the first top-10 seed to fall in the first Grand Slam event of the year.

Wang clawed her way back in the first set after falling into a 2-1 hole early to take the early lead, and then jumped up to a big 4-2 lead in the second — seemingly putting Williams away early.

That, though, is when the 23-time Grand Slam winner turned it on. Williams quickly pushed back to tie up the second set and force a tiebreaker, which she won handily to keep herself alive.

In the end, though, it wasn’t enough. Wang held on in the final set to grab the upset win and punch her first-ever ticket to the Round of 16 in Melbourne.

“I have to be calm,” Wang said of her mindset during the second set. “[I was] a little bit confused inside, but my mind always told me I had to focus on the court, focus on every point and trust myself.”

The two have squared off just once before, meeting at the U.S. Open in September. That time, though, Williams cruised to a 6-1, 6-0 win in just 44 minutes — scoring 50 points to Wang’s 15.

Williams was plagued by errors on Friday, too, making 56 unforced total. Wang, though, only slipped 20 times in the nearly 2:45 match.

With the win, Wang will advance to take on Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who beat Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 — which marked the final match of Wozniacki’s career.

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