Australian Open: Eugenie Bouchard, Grigor Dimitrov labour into last 16
Rising stars Eugenie Bouchard and Grigor Dimitrov kept their dreams of a maiden Grand Slam title alive Friday but they made heavy work of downing lower ranked players at the Australian Open.
Melbourne: Rising stars Eugenie Bouchard and Grigor Dimitrov kept their dreams of a maiden Grand Slam title alive Friday but they made heavy work of downing lower ranked players at the Australian Open.
Cheered on by the "Eugenie Army", popular seventh seed Bouchard took 56 minutes to get through the first set against Caroline Garcia before demolishing the 36th-ranked Frenchwoman 7-5, 6-0.
"I don`t think it was the prettiest tennis out there today," admitted the Canadian.
"I didn`t get much rhythm, she was hitting some pretty good balls and I`m just happy get through it. I wasn`t playing my best."
Bouchard is seen as one of the new generation tipped to take the reins from the old guard of Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, with Dimitrov regarded as a contender in the men`s game.
But the Bulgarian 10th seed laboured to get past crowd favourite Marcos Baghdatis with the fired-up Cypriot pushing him to five tough sets.
Dimitrov, Sharapova`s boyfriend, looked headed for defeat when the 2006 Open runner-up won the third set before he rallied to claim an exhausting 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory in front of a noisy pro-Baghdatis section of the crowd.
His reward is a clash with either sixth seed Andy Murray or Portugal`s Joao Sousa for a place in the quarter-finals.
Czech seventh seed Tomas Berdych, a semi-finalist last year, was a more convincing winner, powering past Serb Viktor Troicki 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 and will next play either Australians Bernard Tomic or Sam Groth.
Second seed Roger Federer faces Italian Andreas Seppi later on Rod Laver Arena, with the Swiss great, bidding to reach the last 16 at Melbourne Park for a 14th straight year.
He has played Seppi 10 times and won them all.
Rafael Nadal, who suffered dizzy spells and stomach cramps in his five-set epic win over qualifier Tim Smyczek on Wednesday, takes on Israel`s Dudi Sela in a night match.Other top names in action include Murray and second seeded Sharapova, who was pushed to the brink in her second round clash with qualifier Alexandra Panova.
The Russian world number two, a five-time Grand Slam winner, meets 31st seeded Kazak Zarina Diyas with the prospect of a potential quarter-final against Bouchard.
Under the radar 10th seed Ekaterina Makarova, a quarter-finalist in Melbourne in 2012 and 2013 a US Open semi-finalist last year, booked her place in the last 16 by beating another rising star Karolina Pliskova.
The Russian won 6-4, 6-4 and is yet to drop a set.
"I`m happy with the way I was serving, she`s a tough opponent," said Makarova of a player who lost to Petra Kvitova in the final of the Sydney International in the lead-up to the Australian Open.
"I`m pretty confident, happy with how I`m playing and I just want to show my best tennis."
Others safely through include Germany`s Julia Goerges, who squeezed past Lucie Hradecka 7-6 (8/6), 7-5, the Czech qualifier who caused a major upset fifth seed Ana Ivanovic in the first round.
China`s 21st seed Peng Shuai also progressed in straight sets while Belgium`s Yanina Wickmayer surprised 14th seeded Italian Sara Errani in three sets for only her fourth-ever appearance in a Grand Slam last 16.