Iga Swiatek and Alexander Zverev come back from the brink after Australian Open scares

World number one Swiatek said she was mentally already at the airport when trailing Danielle Collins

World number one Iga Swiatek and men’s sixth seed Alexander Zverev both fought their way back from the brink of defeat to reach the third round of the Australian Open on Thursday, a day of close shaves for top seeds at Melbourne Park.

Swiatek said she was mentally already at the airport when trailing Danielle Collins by two breaks in the third set, while Zverev was picking his flight out of Melbourne as he stood staring at defeat in four sets to qualifier Lukas Klein.

Pole Swiatek showed all the fight of a four-times Grand Slam champion as she rallied for a 6-4 3-6 6-4 victory on Rod Laver Arena, while Zverev admitted he was fortunate to prevail 7-5 3-6 4-6 7-6(5) 7-6(7) over the Slovakian world number 163.

A combination of rain interruptions and tight opening matches kept the list of "completed matches" at Melbourne Park empty until deep into the afternoon on day five of the championships.


Swiatek knew she was in for a potentially tricky contest in the opening match on Rod Laver Arena as world number 62 Collins had beaten her in the semi-finals at Melbourne Park in 2022.

The 30-year-old American, who said after the match that she would be retiring this season, came out firing after losing the opening set and Swiatek needed her best tennis to overhaul a 4-1 deficit by rattling off the last five games in the third set.

"Oh my god, honestly, I was already at the airport," said Swiatek.

“I didn’t feel like I had control over this match [but] I wanted to fight till the end. I’m happy that I was solid and I just believed till the end.”

Zverev admitted that Klein's iron grip on their 4-1/2-hour contest, played mostly under the roof on John Cain Arena, had him plotting his journey back to Monte Carlo.

“I was thinking there’s a Qantas flight at 11pm tonight straight to Dubai and then one to home,” Zverev said.

"A lot of the time I was a spectator in the match. I was just witnessing whether he's going to hit a winner or miss."

Women's fifth seed Jessica Pegula bucked the trend by being unable to rally in her contest with France's Clara Burel and the American crashed out 6-4 6-2.

Casper Ruud, the men's 11th seed, was also forced to battle hard for his place in the third round as he was taken to a fifth set tiebreak by local Max Purcell before winning 6-3 6-7(5) 6-3 3-6 7-6(7).

Ruud thought his match against the unorthodox Purcell was one he might have lost before the boost of confidence he got from a fine showing at the year-opening United Cup.

"That's a typical match you could end up losing," he told reporters.

"Today I didn't have to save match point, but he was basically only three points away from winning. It might be the good start I had in United Cup that gave me some confidence to stay in the rally and play well when I had to."

The Dane will next face British 19th seed Cameron Norrie, who also needed the full five sets to beat Italian qualifier Giulio Zeppieri 3-6 6-7(4) 6-2 6-4 6-4.