MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Fifth seed Andrei Rublev defeated Dan Evans 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 on Saturday to advance to his third Australian tournament in four years. Net fourth round.
Rublev hit 60 winners, including 10 aces.
“I’m getting better and better every game,” Rublev said. “At the beginning of the year, I lost a few close games against really good players and lost a little bit of confidence.”
Rublev, who will face No. 9 seeds Holger Rune or Ugo Humbert in the round of 16, also thanked Evans for giving him a banana to help him during the match.
“I asked for a banana, but they didn’t have any,” Rublev said. “Dan asked for bananas earlier, asked for two, and he only gave me one. He helped me out with energy.”
Belinda Bencic made it to the fourth round for the first time since 2016, when she beat Camila George 6-2, 7-5 at Rod Laver Arena.
Bencic was broken on serve at 5-4, but she broke the next game and then served to fight for the win.
“I’m really glad I got a second chance to do it,” she said. “But overall I thought it was a good game. (6 to 5) I just wanted to relax. My coach (Dmitri Tursunov) was showing me to relax (signal).”
Bencic next faces either Sabalenka or Mertens, who won his eighth straight win in Adelaide ahead of the Australian Open.
“I think a lot of the credit goes to my coaches,” she said. “We started working together in the Billie Jean King Cup at the end of October. We’re changing things up . . . I’ve come out of my comfort zone and it’s worked out well so far.”
Former world number one Karolina Pliskova also reached the round of 16 with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Varvara Gracheva. The last time Pliskova played the second week in Melbourne in 2019, she faced no break point.
“My serve, it can be a really good weapon,” she said. “I didn’t run as much from the baseline.”
Pliskova will next play Zhang Shaoyi, who ended the winning streak of US qualifier Katie Wolinec with a 6-3, 6-2 record.
Donna Vekic beat Spain’s Nuria Parrizas Diaz 6-2, 6-2 to advance to the fourth round for the second time in three years. Vekic will face Czech players Markita Vondrosova or Linda Fruveltova in the fourth round.
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