MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Gael Monfils had a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) win over Andrei Kuznetsov to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals for the first time in 11 trips to Melbourne Park, thrilling the Margaret Court Arena crowd with his acrobatic tumbles and dives.
The No. 23-seeded Monfils, a semifinalist at the 2008 French Open, said it hurts sometimes landing on the hard courts as he chases balls other players would leave, adding “Maybe something snaps in my mind, and I just go for it … I just fly.”
He will play the winner of the later match between fourth-seeded Stan Wawrinka, the French Open and 2014 Australian Open champion, and No. 13 Milos Raonic.
Meanwhile Victoria Azarenka couldn’t get off court quickly enough to check the score after she reached the quarterfinals. To her elation, the Broncos won.
The two-time Australian Open champion had just beaten Barbaro Strycova 6-2, 6-4 in the fourth round Monday — continuing a three-year sequence of wins against the Czech player who started in the second round in 2014 and included the third round last year — when she wanted to know the result of the AFC title game.
“Can somebody please tell me, did Broncos win?” she said, taking over her on-court TV interview. When she heard the Denver Broncos had beaten the New England Patriots 20-18, she shouted “Yesss!!” — stepping back and raising both arms, “I’m so happy now.”
“I was so nervous the whole morning, I didn’t watch. I didn’t want to know the result,” she said.
Peyton Manning’s Broncos will face Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers in the 50th Super Bowl. Azarenka has shown some allegiance to Newton and the Panthers, doing her version of the “dab” in her victory celebrations. Told the Panthers were well ahead of the Cardinals in the NFC decider, Azarenka said, “Well then, it’s going to be my dream final; I can’t wait to see that.”
She is coming off two injury-laden seasons but is returning to the kind of form that took her to the No. 1-ranked and back-to-back Australian Open titles in 2012 and ’13.
She won the Brisbane International leading into the first major of the season, and dropped only five games in her first three rounds at Melbourne Park. Strycova, who beat third-ranked Garbine Muguruza in the third round, took six games off Azarenka.
“She’s such a tough opponent. I’m just so happy I went through,” she said. “I played smart, I played aggressive, I took my opportunities and I really kept my composure.”
Next up she faces No. 7 Angelique Kerber, who beat fellow German Annika Beck 6-4, 6-0.
Kerber, who saved a match point in her first-round win over Misaki Doi, is into the quarterfinals for the first time in Australia.
In the night match, No. 2 Andy Murray was set to face No. 16 Bernard Tomic.