Australian Open 2023 Results: Instant Reactions to Saturday's Winners and Losers
The Australian Open is once again Novak Djokovic's tournament to lose.
The nine-time Australian Open winner has dropped one set over three matches in the men's singles draw while many of his closest rivals exited the competition, and he is the only player of the 16 remaining in the men's draw with a major title to his name.
The 35-year-old is expected to cruise through the bottom part of the men's singles bracket and into the final. Andrey Rublev, Holger Rune and Alex De Minaur are Djokovic's biggest threats in his half, and the former two are slated to face off in the round of 16. De Minaur is next up for Djokovic.
Even though the inevitable seems likely on the men's side, there are still a few good stories in the draw, including the advancement of three unseeded American players. Ben Shelton, J.J. Wolf and Tommy Paul won unseeded battles on Saturday to continue their surprising runs in Melbourne.
In the women's draw, Iga Swiatek has been so dominant that her progression to the final looks as certain as Djokovic's.
Aryna Sabalenka, Belinda Bencic and Caroline Garcia are the top-seeded players left in the bottom half of the draw, and Sabalenka and Bencic's wins on Saturday set up a blockbuster round-of-16 showdown for Monday.
At least one unseeded woman will make it to the quarterfinals. Donna Vekić and rising teenage star Linda Fruhvirtova each won on Saturday in a part of the bracket that was broken open by No. 2 seed Ons Jabeur's second-round defeat.
No. 4 Novak Djokovic def. No. 27 Grigor Dimitrov, 7-6 (7), 6-3, 6-4
No. 5 Andrey Rublev def. No. 25 Dan Evans, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3
No. 9 Holger Rune def. Ugo Humbert, 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (5)
No. 22 Alex De Minaur def. Benjamin Bonzi, 7-6 (0), 6-2, 6-1
No. 24 Roberto Bautista Agut def. Andy Murray, 6-1, 6-7 (7), 6-3, 6-4
Ben Shelton def. Alexei Popyrin, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-4
J.J. Wolf def. Michael Mmoh, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2
Tommy Paul def. Jenson Brooksby, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3
No. 4 Caroline Garcia def. Laura Siegemund, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3
No. 5 Aryna Sabalenka def. No. 26 Elise Mertens, 6-2, 6-3
No. 12 Belinda Bencic def. Camila Giorgi, 6-2, 7-5
Magda Linette def. No. 19 Ekaterina Alexandrova, 6-3, 6-4
No. 23 Zhang Shuai def. Katie Volynets, 6-3, 6-2
No. 30 Karolína Plíšková def. Varvara Gracheva, 6-4, 6-2
Donna Vekić def. Nuria Parrizas-Diaz, 6-2, 6-2
Linda Fruhvirtova def. Markéta Vondroušová, 7-5, 2-6, 6-3
Novak Djokovic Cruises into Round of 16
Djokovic cruised to a straight-set win over Grigor Dimitrov on Saturday. He was tested the most in the first set, when the No. 27 seed took him to a tiebreak.
The fourth-seeded Djokovic has won six of his nine sets across the tournament by three games or more. His only dropped set, in the second round to Enzo Couacaud, came in a tiebreak.
The biggest hindrance to Djokovic's title quest is a potential hamstring injury that he may be dealing with. He has shown some effects of an ailment while on court, but it has not hurt his results on court yet.
In the round of 16, De Minaur will have the home Australian crowd behind him, but that can only make so much of a difference against the record nine-time winner. After that, Rublev or Rune could pose a threat to Djokovic in the quarterfinals, but neither player has gotten past the final eight at a Grand Slam in their careers.
Djokovic could be a heavy favorite to win in the semifinal round if one of the three unseeded Americans advances that far. Ben Shelton plays J.J. Wolf in the round of 16, while Tommy Paul takes on Roberto Bautista Agut.
Bautista Agut has an edge in experience over all three Americans, but they should not be counted out given the high level of tennis displayed by each player through one week in Melbourne.
If Djokovic advances past all those players and into the final, Stefanos Tsitsipas is the only remaining player on the other side of the draw to have appeared in a Grand Slam final.
Aryna Sabalenka, Belinda Bencic Set Up Huge Round-of-16 Clash
Aryna Sabalenka and Belinda Bencic won on Saturday to set up the highest-profile round-of-16 clash in the women's singles draw.
Sabalenka cruised into the round of 16 with her third straight two-set victory over No. 26 seed Elise Mertens.
The No. 5 seed Sabalenka has three semifinal appearances in her last five Grand Slam appearances after first reaching that stage in 2021.
Bencic matched her best-ever run in Melbourne by beating Camila Giorgi on Saturday. The 12th-seeded Swiss has not dropped a set yet. The 2020 Summer Olympics gold-medal winner is in terrific form, and this could be her best chance to reach her first Grand Slam final.
The Sabalenka-Bencic winner will face either of the unseeded duo of Vekic and Fruhvirtova in the quarterfinals, with No. 4 seed Caroline Garcia the top possible opponent in the semifinal.
Garcia had a shaky start to the third round, losing the first set 6-1 against Laura Siegemund. The 2022 U.S. Open semifinalist recovered to win in three sets to set up a clash with unseeded Magda Linette, though.
One of Garcia, Sabalenka and Bencic is expected to reach the final, but Karolina Pliskova could spoil that thought.
Pliskova, the 30th seed in the women's draw, is a four-time Grand Slam semifinalist and two-time finalist, which is the most experience of any woman in the bottom half.
The higher-seeded players entered Melbourne in better form, but Pliskova could bank on her experience to take out Garcia and the Sabalenka-Bencic winner in two of the next three rounds.