American Taylor Fritz has come out on top in a rollercoaster Australian Open clash with Spanish veteran Roberto Bautista Agut to smash his grand slam third-round hoodoo.
The 24-year-old had reached the third round seven times at a major but never gone beyond, bowing out at that stage in his last three appearances at Melbourne Park.
But Fritz outlasted Bautista Agut 6-0 3-6 3-6 6-4 6-3 on Saturday to book a fourth round meeting with fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The Greek eliminated Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-3 7-5 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 in their Rod Laver Arena clash.
Australian No.1 Alex de Minaur will also make his first appearance in the fourth round with the 32nd seed easing past Spain’s Pablo Andujar 6-4 6-4 6-2.
De Minaur faces world No.10 Jannik Sinner after the Italian trumped Japan’s Taro Daniel 6-4 1-6 6-3 6-1.
American Maxime Cressy ended the hopes of unheralded Aussie Chris O’Connell 6-2 6-7 (8-6) 6-3 6-2.
World No.2 Daniil Medvedev made short work of Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp, winning 6-4 6-4 6-2 while Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime cruised past Brit Dan Evans 6-4 6-1 6-1.
Fritz got off to a flyer with his booming forehand and big first serve doing plenty of damage before the momentum went Bautista Agut’s way for the next two sets.
But after levelling at two sets apiece, Fritz got an early break in the fifth and was never headed from there in a career-best showing which included 73 winners.
“It’s huge,” the 20th seeded Fritz said.
“After that match I was almost close to tearing up a bit – it seems stupid, because so many people have made the second week of slams, but it’s just eluded me for so long.
“I have had a lot of tough matches, a lot of tough draws and never gotten a great look at it. It means a ton.”
Tsitsipas has made quiet progress through the draw but appears to be warming to the task.
After undergoing elbow surgery in November, it appeared it could be an issue when it flared in Sydney in the lead-up but the 23-year-old didn’t appeared troubled in the two hour 43 minute match.
He served well, clocking 21 aces, but the key was his 26 errors to Paire’s 50 in a controlled display.
“I’m pretty glad with that win. Benoit is someone who is one of the biggest challenges in our game,” Tsitsipas said.
“He has a lot of talent, a lot of feel for the game so it was an important victory for me.”
Tsitsipas, who has made the Open semi-finals twice including last year, said he and Fritz came through the juniors together.
“We grew up playing together but he’s someone who has improved a lot in the last few years,” Tsitsipas added.
“So he’s definitely someone I’m going to take very seriously and try to bring the best out of my game.”