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Australian Open Men's Day 4

By Chris Pike
16 January 2014 05:57PM EST

ENIGMATIC Frenchman Benoit Paire had to overcome a pugnacious Australian teenager and a raucous crowd to win through to the third round while Juan Martin Del Porto is out of the Australian Open.

Only two men's matches were completed before play was suspended for several hours due to 40-plus degree Melbourne heat along with high humidity.

That meant that the night session lasted almost until 2am EST, but when it did Australian 18-year-old Nick Kyrgios had fallen just short of what would have been a remarkable victory over Paire on Margaret Court Arena after he led two sets to one.

The biggest casualty of Thursday, though, was the surprise loss of fifth-seed and Sydney International winner Del Potro who lost in five sets to Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut.

He wasn’t the only seed to lose either with Andreas Seppi (24) and Fernando Verdasco (31) also bowing out on Thursday night.

Play was suspended on all but Rod Laver and Hisense Arenas where the rooves could be closed as the Melbourne heat soared past 40 degrees on Thursday, but plenty of action still took place both before that and indoors.

The only matches to finish before that saw seeds Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Kei Nishikori record victories, and throughout Thursday Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Gael Monfils, Feliciano Lopez, Milos Raonic and Gilles Simon also winning into the third round.

The Hisense Arena roof was closed midway Tsonga's second round clash with Thomaz Bellucci, but the French 10th-seed needed only three sets to win through to the third round.

To Bellucci's credit, he fought through to finish the match despite appearing on several occasions like he might throw in the towel like a record number of players have so far this Australian Open in the Melbourne heatwave.

The Brazilian Bellucci put up a good fight against Tsonga, but the former Australian Open finalist prevailed 7-6 (6), 6-4, 6-4.

Japanese 16th-seed Kei Nishikori also managed to sneak in his second round victory out on Court 6 before play was suspended when he beat Serbia's Dusan Lajovic in straight-sets, 6-1, 6-1, 7-6 (3).

The afternoon session on Rod Laver Arena finished with world No. 1 Rafael Nadal comfortably beating Australian 17-year-old Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-2, 6-4, 6-2, but the teenage Australian would have learned plenty from the experience and wasn’t afraid to take it up to his 13-time Grand Slam winning opponent.

The final match on Rod Laver Arena on Thursday then saw Scot Andy Murray beating Frenchman Vincent Millot 6-2, 6-2, 7-5.

However, the three-time Australian Open runner-up and reigning Wimbledon champion did find himself in trouble in the third set trailing 5-2, but he then went on an incredible run of winning 23 straight points to close out the match winning five games on the trot.

There were two men's matches finished on Hisense Arena as well once play resumed and it started with four-time Australian Open winner Roger Federer cruising to a straight-sets win over Slovenia's Blaz Kavcic, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (4).

Play concluded on Hisense with another straight-sets match, but French 25th-seed Gael Monfils had to work hard against American Jack Sock before prevailing 7-6 (2), 7-5, 6-2.

Play finished out on Court 2 with a five-set clash between unseeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut and Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro.

Del Potro was considered the man most likely to challenge the top-four of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murry and Roger Federer for the Australian Open title, but it soon became apparent he was in for a huge fight just to make the third round.

Del Potro did manage to win the first and third sets, but when world No. 62 Bautista Agut claimed the fourth, it unsettled the Argentine and the angry, frustrated and tired former US Open champion then had his serve broken in the 11th game of the fifth set.

Bautista Agut then held serve to win the match 4-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5.

There had been no play on Court 3 at all on Thursday until 3pm when action resumed after the heat delay and two five-set men's second round matches were the result.

First up was American world No. 91 Donald Young taking on No. 24 seed Italian Andreas Seppi, and it was the American who got the fast start winning the first set.

However, Seppi had showed strong fight in the first round to beat Australia's Lleyton Hewitt after winning the first set following dropping the third and fourth sets, and he found a way to again force things to a fifth set against Young despite falling two sets to one down.

Seppi couldn’t finish it off, though, with Young advancing to the third round by recording the 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 victory.

Up next on Court 3 was the battle between Russia's Teymuraz Gabashvili and Spanish 31st-seed and former Australian Open semi-finalist Fernando Verdasco.

It was the Russian who came away with the five-set upset victory despite losing the second and third sets, winning 7-6 (1), 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Potential is a word that Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov wants to try and turn into results in 2014, and he has started in the right way winning into the third round at the first Grand Slam of the year beating Chinese Taipei's Yen-Hsun Lu on Thursday, 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 (11).

Spain's 26th-seed Feliciano Lopez had a tough battle with German world No. 144 Michael Berrer, but the Spaniard did manage to prevail in straight sets 6-4, 7-6 (6), 6-4.

First up on Court 8 when play resumed was a battle between France's Stephane Robert and Poland's Michal Przysiezny, and it was Robert who prevailed 7-6 (3), 6-1, 6-7 (3), 6-1 to earn his way into the third round of the Australian Open.

The night on Court 13 ended with a straight-sets victory for Canadian 11th-seed Milos Raonic, but it was a tight battle against Romania's Victor Hanescu that he ended up winning 7-6 (9), 6-4, 6-4.

French 18th-seed Gilles Simon had to win an incredible first round marathon against German Daniel Brands, and he didn’t make his work in the second round any easier when he fell two sets to one down against Croat Marin Cilic.

However, Simon again showed that despite at times looking ungainly, he does possess plenty of fight and he dominated the last two sets dropping just three games against his big-hitting opponent to win the match, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-2.

Meanwhile, out on Court 19 in the battle of two unseeded players, Slovak Martin Klizan beat Slovenia's Blaz Rola in four sets, 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (2).

The final match to finish on Thursday was an entertaining affair between French 27th-seed Paire and Australian 18-year-old Kyrgios.

Paire and Kyrgios couldn’t step out onto court until the Sloane Stephens-Ajla Tomljanovic women's match concluded on Margaret Court Arena, so the match already started late and would last until 1.40am.

Despite being ranked only 183 in the world, Kyrgios came out full of confidence and clearly has no shortage of self-belief, but spurred on by an at times unruly home crowd, he managed to win the first two sets both in tie-breakers against his more fancied and experienced opponent.

Paire has stated that his tennis hero was Russian Marat Safin and with some of his fire and actions on the court you can clearly see why, but the Frenchman also has plenty of game and his years of working on his conditioning and strength shone through the longer the match went.

Despite falling two sets to nil down against his teenage opponent, Paire had every right to think that after being a professional for six full years that he should be able to outlast Kyrgios and that's exactly what happened.

Nothing dented Kyrgios' confidence or self-belief, but Paire's experience and class came through in the finish as he dropped just eight games over the last three sets to win, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.

It was somewhat like a Davis Cup match on Margaret Court Arena with the Australian fans behind Kyrgios, and while that spurred on their local teen, playing the villain is something that Paire also seemed to thrive on and he enjoyed playing up to the crowd, and coming away victorious in the finish.

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