Carlos Alcaraz was given a comfortable passage through to the fourth round at the Australian Open when opponent Shang Juncheng pulled out injured.
Playing a younger player than himself for the first time at tour level, Alcaraz dropped just two games before Shang called it a day trailing 6-1 6-1 1-0.
The Chinese youngster, known as “Jerry” at his Florida training base, had taken a medical timeout for treatment on his thigh at 4-1 down in the second set and gave up the ghost after being broken for the sixth time at the start of the third.
Alcaraz has made it through to the last 16 in Melbourne for the first time and will next face Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic.
“It’s not the way anybody wants to move on and I wish him a speedy recovery,” Alcaraz said of Shang, who was hampered by a thigh injury.
“He started the year unbelievable, playing great games, and I was looking forward to playing this match. I think Jerry and myself wanted to play a long match.”
Last year, the 20-year-old watched the year’s first Grand Slam from his couch nursing a hamstring injury and he was delighted to get through to the business end of the tournament for the first time in three visits to Melbourne Park.
“This is the first time I’ve played the second week here and it feels special,” he added.
“Coming to this tournament this year, I was looking to improve the result that I did in 2022. I did it. And now is the time to keep going, play better and better, and hopefully go through more rounds.”
Kecmanovic, the world No 60, upset American Tommy Paul 6-4 3-6 2-6 7-6 (9-7) 6-0 to set up a clash with Alcaraz.
Third seed Daniil Medvedev eased past Canada’s 27th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3 6-4 6-3.
The Russian, who was taken to five sets in the previous round, will face unseeded Nuno Borges in the fourth round.
Borges defeated Bulgarian 13th seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 6-2 7-6 (7-6) with the 26-year-old, ranked 69 in the world, now through to the fourth round of a major for the first time in his career.
Ninth seed Hubert Hurkacz came from a set down to beat France’s Ugo Humbert 3-6 6-1 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 and will meet another Frenchman, Arthur Cazaux, in the fourth round.
Cazaux earned a quickfire 6-3 6-3 6-1 win over Dutch 28th seed Tallon Griekspoor to reach the last 16 at a major for the first time.
The 21-year-old wildcard Cazaux was ranked 230 this time last year and now he is guaranteed to make his debut in the top 100 after the tournament, provisionally zooming up to 83rd in the world.
Arthur Cazaux is the first wild card to make the Round of 16 at the Australian Open since Lleyton Hewitt in 2012 and the second non-Australian in the Open Era after Mats Wilander in 1994.
He said: “Of course there are so many players much better in the ranking than me, young players like Carlos, Holger (Rune), Jannik (Sinner), and Arthur Fils also. Of course I know them, because we were in juniors together.
“Yes, they are superstars now, so it’s crazy for them. Me, I did my trip. I had many injuries, and then I did my best. I do my trip, and we will see where it’s going to be.”
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