Isner, Fritz, Bellis win on Day 4 of Australian Open
Ashley Marshall | January 23, 2020
John Isner did it with trademark raw power. Taylor Fritz did it with grit and determination. CiCi Bellis did it with a fresh sense of self-belief.
Three Americans secured second-round wins on Day 4 of the Australian Open on Thursday, giving Team USA 11 players in the third round in Melbourne for the first time in 15 years.
And Isner, Fritz and Bellis (pictured above) each did it their own way.
U.S. players advance
Big-serving 19th seed Isner landed 32 aces in a routine 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 win over Chilean qualifier Alejandro Tabilo on Court 22, and No. 29 seed Fritz rallied back from two sets down against two-time major finalist Kevin Anderson for a memorable 4-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-2, 6-2 victory.
Bellis, playing in her first Grand Slam in two years after being sidelined with arm injuries, upset No. 20 seed Karolina Muchova, 6-4, 6-4, to progress to the third round of a major for the first time since 2017.ADVERTISEMENT
Isner dropped just eight points on his first serve and never faced a break point against Tabilo, ranked No. 208. The American secured one break in each of the first and third sets and two more in the second to earn his place in the Round of 32.
The 6-foot-10 Georgia native has held serve in 38 consecutive games to open the tournament, but he will face his first big challenge on Saturday against former Australian Open champion and No. 15 seed Stan Wawrinka, who battled past Andreas Seppi in Round 2.
Before the tournament, Isner pledged 25 percent of his prize money plus $100 for every ace he hit in Melbourne to the bushfire relief efforts. So by reaching the third round and taking his ace tally to 78, Isner will donate at least $38,000 to charitable causes across the country.
While Isner’s win was straight forward, Fritz was made to work considerably harder inside 1573 Arena.
Trailing by two sets to love and down a break in the third, Fritz looked to be on his way out against US Open and Wimbledon runner-up Anderson, who has dropped outside the Top 100.
But Fritz broke Anderson with the South African serving at 4-2, and although he was three points from elimination, he forced his way into a tiebreak and never looked back. Fritz won four of five points at 3-3 in the tiebreak to win the third set, and he broke Anderson twice in set No. 4 to send the second-round match to an unlikely decider.
As he did in the fourth set, Fritz secured an early break in Anderson’s first service game and quickly raced out to a 5-2 advantage. Anderson served to stay in the match, but Fritz kept his foot on the pedal, breaking Anderson for a ninth and final time to earn victory on his first match point.
It was the second five-set win at a major for 22-year-old Fritz, who also came back from two sets down to beat Mischa Zverev in the first round of the 2018 US Open.
It moves the California native into the third round in Melbourne for the second year in a row and ties his best performance at a major.
Fritz will play No. 5 seed Dominic Thiem, who also rallied to a five-set win over Aussie wild card Alex Bolt on Day 4.
With Isner and Fritz joining Tennys Sandgren, Tommy Paul and Sam Querrey in the third round, there are five American men this deep into the tournament for the first time since 2008, when Querrey, James Blake, Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish and Vince Spadea all progressed.
Bellis back to her best
On the women’s side Thursday, Bellis was the lone U.S. winner, as she defeated world No. 22 Muchova, who is ranked 578 places above the Californian.
Bellis has been sidelined for most of the past two years after undergoing a number of surgeries on her arm, elbow and wrist. She feared she would never play again, but she never lost hope that she would return to the court. Now she’s hitting out freely as if she’s playing with house money.
On Day 4, she broke Muchova twice in the first set and once in the second. Bellis saved the only break point she faced on her own racquet, protecting her own serve well while attacking Muchova’s second serve and letting the Czech Republic star make errors from the back of the court.
Bellis, who trains at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, lost in the first round the only other time she played in Melbourne in 2018. Now she’s into the third round, which ties her best Slam performances at the 2017 French Open and 2016 US Open.
The 20-year-old plays No. 16 seed Elise Mertens of Belgium on Saturday, with the winner meeting either Simon Halep or Yulia Putintseva.
Eight Americans are in action on Day 5, all on show courts.
Serena Williams continues her quest for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam women’s singles title, when she plays No. 27 seed Qiang Wang of China in the second match inside Rod Laver Arena. Then Coco Gauff opens the night session on the same court, when she squares off against defending champion Naomi Osaka in a rematch of their US Open tangle last summer.
No. 10 seed Madison Keys closes out the day session in Margaret Court Arena against No. 22 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece, while No. 14 seed Sofia Kenin anchors the night session against Shuai Zhang of China.
No. 18 seed Alison Riske is in action in 1573 Arena against Julia Goerges. Paul plays Marton Fucsovics second in 1573 Arena during the day session, while Sandgren and Querrey close the court in the last match of the day.