Berrettini is playing nicely, not just serving well but slicing well too, and his forehand is doing its usual. Carreno Busta does find a very nice return, backhand down the line, but it’s 40-0 at the time, and obviously an ace follows.
Again, Berrettini gets ahead on the Carreno Busta serve, but at 0-15 yerman finds a fine volley, stretching onto the forehand side to angle it across the face of the net. Berrettini, though, sorts him at the net for a 30-all, chasing down an ill-executed drop, and you wonder for how long Carreno Busta can handle this pressure – every hold is a battle. He finds a nails forehand for 40-30, though, then a serve out elicits a return into the net. Berrettini is the better player at the moment, but the set remains in the balance. Carreno Busta 5-7 4-3 Berrettini
I’ve recently come to love the Italian flag – the precise shade of the green in particular. Another easy hold for Berrettini, and that’s 3-3.
at 11.08am GMT
Ultimately, Carreno Busta’s groundstrokes aren’t reliable enough or penetrating enough to compensate for the difference in serve, and a long forehand followed by a netted backhand give Berrettini – who’s hitting monstrously – 15-30. And have a look! At 30-all, he turns up the power on his forehand, dematerialising one down the line that opens the court for a clean-up … except he nets, and a brutal forehand of his own sees Carreno Busta through another hold, just. He leads 3-2 in set two.
A love hold for Berrettini; his serve is one of the great weapons, men’s or women’s game, and there’s not much Carreno Busta can do about it. But if he can keep holding his own, you never know. Carreno Busta 5-7 2-2 Berrettini
Again Berrettini gets ahead of the Carreno Busta serve at 15-30, but after dominating the next rally he goes fractionally long on the forehand and Carreno Busta cleans up for 2-1.
Berrettini looks much the better player now, and he holds to 15. Carreno Busta is good, but I don’t think he’s good enough to override the power he faces; in a sense, it’s an inverse of Barty v Anisimova, a match in which hands and nous trumped athleticism and velocity. Carreno Busta 5-7 1-1 Berrettini
at 10.47am GMT
When it goes it goes quick, as Alex Ferguson once said, and a careless game from Carreno Busta sees him facing 0-40. If he can’t sort this, it’ll be hard to see a way for him, but at 15-40 he plays a a fine backhand cross-court followed by a delicate backhand volley; lovely stuff. Berrettini then nets a backhand slice, an unnecessary oversight, Carreno Busta comes in again to despatch an overhead, and another superb point gives him five in a row and 1-0 in set two. That’s excellent behaviour.
Yeah. A fine forehand winner gives Carreno Busta 0-15, so Berretini finds two aces, then another then another facing a break point at 30-40. A further brute sends Carreno Busta out wide, he just about gets a return back, and there’s Berrettini at the net to put way the set. Carreno Busta 5-7 Berrettini
at 10.44am GMT
Now then. A net-cord leaves Carreno Busta with few options, and a nothing pick-up is quickly speeding back past him; Berrettini has his second 0-30 of the set, then another net cord, this time on that dies, gives him three break points and Carreno Busta thrashes a desperate forehand long and wide! Berrettini will soon serve for set one at 6-5!
Serving to stay in the set, Berrettini comes to the net and slices a backhand long when he absolutely didn’t need to. Yeah, whatvez – his serve and forehand do the rest, and at 5-5 we’ve yet to experience a break point.
Back on your Lavers, Carreno Busta has just served his first ace for 40-0 at 4-4 … then Berrettini climbs all over a fractionally short ball, unleashing a forehand down the line with terrifying speed and power. It makes no odds – Carreno Busta quickly closes out – but it hints at how a breaker might go: in favour of the man with the bigger weapons. Carreno Busta 5-4 Berrettini
at 10.30am GMT
Kecmanovic was a really good junior, which doesn’t always mean he’ll be really good on tour, but he will be. Monfils says he tried to be really aggressive and not let Kecmanovic dictate; seving well hoped. He’s not lost a set so far and hasn’t made the last eight in Australia since 2016 – he’s not finished, he reckons, and hopes it goes better. He knows both his potential opponents are very good, but he’ll be ready, and we should be too – he’s so watchable and so likeable, and looks to have found the balance in his life and game.
Gael Monfils beats Miomir Kecmanovic 7-5 7-6(4) 6-3!
Brilliant from Monfils, a forehand winner capping a tremendous display and a really enjoyable match – to which Kecmanovic contributed muchly. At 22, he’s got serious prospects, but today belongs to Monfils, who meets Berrettini or Carreno Busta next. If he plays like this, whichever it is is in for a helluva tussle.
at 10.28am GMT
Monfils has spent a lot of time showing how tired he is, and he’s bent double again … after earning a match point. Kecmanovic, though, spanks a forehand into the corner then a backhand onto the sideline to save it, only to tamely go wide shortly afterwards; can he do it again?
Berrettini floats a tremendous backhand winner down the line – when I said he didn’t have hands as good as Carreno Busta, I wasn’t insulting him – but it’s the only point he wins in the game, and neither man is making much impression on the other’s serve.
Monfils is nearly there, consolidating for 5-3; he’s a game away.
at 10.12am GMT
Berrettini has just rushed through a hold, landing an ace on the outside of the centre-line. He doesn’t have the hands of Carreno Busta, but you’d fancy him in a breaker and I daresay we’ll be seeing one or two of those. It’s 2-2 in set one.
at 10.07am GMT
Oh yes! Monfils raises break point and absolutely spanks a forehand winner from the middle of the baseline into the forehand corner! The handspeed there, oof madone! Kecmanovic 5-7 (4)6-7 3-4 Monfils
Monfils and Kecmanovic are 3-3 in set three, but as I type that, Monfils makes 0-30 on the Kecmanovic serve. Kecmanovic, though, wins four points in a row … only to be diddled by an incredible lob; deuce it is, then again when Monfils nails a blazing forehand. Meantime, Carreno Busta has started well against Berrettini, a love hold giving him 2-1.
Berrettini had to survive a four-hour-plus thriller in the last round, beating Carlos Alcaraz 10-5 in a tiebreak decider. That’s no mean feat – Alcaraz is going to be very serious – so much so that there was a school of thought saying if Berrettini was going to win a major, it’d have to be soon, because Alcaraz and others have even more talent than him, so he needs to get it done before they’re at the necessary level.
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Kecmanovic gets himself to deuce on the Monfils serve, so Monfils clouts down an ace and quickly closes out. He leads 7-5 7-6(4) 2-2.
Next on Laver: Carreno Busta  v Berrettini . That should be decent…
“I’m enjoying the AO coverage you and your colleagues give us,” emails Craig McEwan. “I see Madison Keys beat Paula Badosa earlier. That’s a big result I think. Keys getting back to her best maybe?”
I hope so. I really enjoy her, and Badosa too, but her problem has always been the mental game – I can’t get her US Open final against Sloane Stephens out of my mind, where she just couldn’t settle playing so big a match against a good mate and totally collapsed. But she’s gorra lorra talent, and women’s tennis being women’s tennis – the least predictable sport in the world – I’d not be totally shocked if she did something spectacular. At 26, she’s still got time.
Oh go on then, more Barty, speaking to Europsort. “No pressure, just fun,” she says, and she loved seeing a dog in the crowd helping a member of it. She’s trying to serve towards her opponent’s weakness or to set up the next shot, and is especially pleased she broke back immediately after being broken herself “and put Amanda under the pump.”
Asked who she learns from, she says she doesn’t watch that much tennis apart from the match before her to see when she’s on – there’s another sport in Australia that she’s into, she reminds us, having previously been a cricketer. How much talent is too much talent? Er none, especially when its purveyor wears it so beautifully. She’s just trying to do her thing, she concludes, and yes, that definitely appears to be the case.
at 9.41am GMT
Barty says it’s much better playing in front of fans – does every player get asked that after every match? – and that Anisimova is an incredible athlete and competitor, able to play every point seriously. She could be describing herself there, then notes that all she can do is be her and she’s pretty good at it.
She reckons Pegula played really well today, toughing out big points from the back. She doesn’t think they’ve played before but they’ve definitely practised together so “No secrets, come in here, compete, enjoy it.”
She is a spectacularly pleasant, charismatic person, with the tennis to match.
Monfils has taken a brilliant breaker and now leads Kecmanovic 7-5 7-6(4).
If I’m honest, Anisimova looked a long way off. She’ll get better quickly, but the nous and hands gap is significant.
Ash Barty beats Amanda Anisimova 6-4 6-3!
Anisimova swipes a forehand long, and that is that! Barty is just brilliant, so clever, so calm and so consistent. She meets Pegula next; good luck, Jessica old mate.