With record crowds returning to a full capacity Australian Open 2023, the first Grand Slam of the season has reached its second week.
While week one was brimming with upsets, a total of 11 players from Team Yonex are still alive in singles competition.
Hurkacz wins all-Yonex showdown
It was a blockbuster Friday night under the lights, as No.10 seed Hubert Hurkacz (POL) and No. 22 seed Denis Shapovalov (CAN) — both with Yonex racquets in their hands — did battle in the third round.
Hurkacz dominated from the start, capturing the first two sets, 7-6, 6-4. However, fans who know Shapovalov's potential didn’t budge from Margaret Court Arena, and the Canadian lefty comfortably took the third set, then broke again in the fourth in the third game, thanks to a double fault by Hurkacz.
Shapovalov held firm to take the fourth set, with a potential two-sets-down comeback on the cards. There have been several of them so far this AO, but Hurkacz would deny that trend. The big-serving Pole broke in the sixth game of the final set and then survived four break points in what would be the final game to win 7-6(3), 6-4, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3 in three hours and 37 minutes.
Having played tough five set matches back to back in the second and third rounds, Hurkacz denied feeling any fatigue: "That's why I was putting the work in - to be ready for those kinds of matches,” he said with a gentle smile.
Yoshi is making Japanese history
For Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN), the Australian Open is full of all-new experiences in 2023. Seeded at a Grand Slam for the first time (at No. 31), Nishioka advanced to the second week of a major for the first time, as well, making him just the third Japanese player to do so in Grand Slam history. He beat Mackenzie McDonald 7-6(6), 6-3, 6-2 to reach the round of 16. And with a new VCORE racquet in his hand, he's looking to make more history.
The victory against McDonald came unexpectedly, however, as the American incurred an abdominal injrury in the first game of the second set and was unable to hit his serve properly.
“Still, I am happy to advance to the fourth round for the first time," Nishioka said after.
Belinda feelin' good... but she's not done yet
It's the 10th consecutive appearance at the AO for the Swiss star Belinda Bencic (SUI), and she's looking to make her deepest run ever. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic champion denied Camila Giorgi (ITA) in straight sets in the third round to advance to week two in Melbourne for the first time since 2016.
Having won her seventh career title in Adelaide International the week prior to the AO, Bencic is on an eight-match winning streak (including walk-overs). But she's not yet satisfied: "It's some good wins, but still, you know, I'm going further... I'm ready for that."
Garcia survives Yonex fellow Siegemund challenge
Laura Siegemund's (GER) 158th ranking was deceiving, as the German presents a stiff test for whomever she's facing. She proved to be the most difficult match of the tournament so far for Caroline Garcia (FRA), the No. 4 seed. Despite dropping the first set, the US Open semi-finalist did not panic. With her hard-hitting ground game and unwavering self-belief, the Frenchwoman won the match and advanced to the fourth round for the first time since 2018 at the Australian Open.