Samantha Crawford breaks out in Brisbane, Victoria Azarenka continues run, Roger Federer wins 2016 opener, Rafael Nadal advances to Doha semifinals and more news from the Australian Open tune-ups.
Check out some of the headlines and results from the top tournaments around the world that you may have missed while you were sleeping.
20-year-old American Crawford shines in Brisbane
Don't know who Samantha Crawford is? You should now. The young Atlanta native is having quite the start to her 2016 season, beating Priscilla Hon, Belinda Bencic and Andrea Petkovic to advance to the Brisbane semifinals, where she'll face Victoria Azarenka. Before her main draw matches, Crawford also played through qualifying, defeating Tsvetana Pironkova, Kimberly Birrell and Oceane Dodin. On Thursday, No. 142-ranked Crawford hit 22 winners to take down Andrea Petkovic, 6–3, 6–0.
"Right after I won in the on court interview I was like shaking," Crawford said after the match. "And then in the locker room I think I was just like sitting for a little bit. I don’t know. Yeah—it’s cool.
"I’ve played main draw at the U.S. Open sometimes and even though those matches didn’t go my way, they were still close and I saw that I could play here and belong here. I think being able to win matches and pull them out and not doubt myself while I’m playing kind of helps."
Azarenka continued her strong showing in Brisbane—she won the title in 2009—with a commanding 6–1, 6–2 win in 78 minutes over Roberta Vinci on Thursday. Azarenka and Crawford have never played each other before but the other two Brisbane semifinalists, Angelique Kerber and Carla Suarez Navarro, have met four times in their career, splitting their head-to-head matchup 2–2.
Here's a fun clip of Azarenka in press after the match:
Federer makes his 2016 debut
After asking the Brisbane tournament directors to push back his opening match start time because he was feeling ill, Roger Federer stormed through his season opener, defeating qualifier Tobias Kamke 6–2, 6–1 in just 55 minutes.
“I guess I got some kind of flu. My whole family had it," Federer said after the match. "I was the last guy to get it, so I knew what I was getting into when I was not feeling well.”
The match was Federer's first since signing on his new coach, Ivan Ljubicic, who replaced Stefan Edberg. In the quarterfinals on Friday, Federer will play Grigor Dimitrov, who beat Viktor Troicki earlier in the day on Thursday. It will be a rematch of last year’s Brisbane semifinal, where Federer won in straight sets before beating Milos Raonic in the final for his 1000th career victory. Raonic also advanced on Thursday with a win over Ivan Dodig and will face Lucas Pouille on Friday. In the other men's quarterfinals matchup, Marin Cilic will face Dominic Thiem and Kei Nishikori will have to go through Bernard Tomic to make it to the semifinals, where he lost to Raonic last year.
Nadal, Djokovic move into Doha semifinals
Rafael Nadal is into the Qatar Exxon Mobil semifinals after beating Andrey Kuznetsov 6–3, 5–7, 6–4 Thursday. No. 2-seed Nadal will next play Illya Marchenko, who beat David Ferrer in the first round and No. 7-seed Jeremy Chardy 6–3, 7–6 (3) on Thursday. In the top half of the draw, Novak Djokovic defeated Leonardo Mayer 6–3, 7–5 to advance and he'll face the winner of the later match between Tomas Berdych and Britain's Kyle Edmund in the semifinals.
Wozniacki-Stephens matchup highlights Auckland semis
No. 3-seed Caroline Wozniacki needed only 52 minutes to take down Romania’s Alexandra Dulgheru 6–1, 6–0 on Thursday. The Dane has not dropped a set all week at the ASB Classic and will meet American Sloane Stephens in the semifinals after Stephens defeated Britain's Naomi Broady, 7–6 (6), 6–3. Tamira Paszek, who is having a run of her own with upset wins over veteran Francesca Schiavone and Svetlana Kuznetsova before beating Kirsten Flipkens on Thursday, will face Julia Goerges in the other semifinals match on Friday.
Wozniacki dominates her head-to-head matchup with Stephens, who has lost in straight sets in each of their five matches.
Team USA gets first round robin win at Hopman Cup
Team USA got its first win at Hopman Cup by beating the Czech Republic 2–1, secured by 7–6(5) 4–6 (7) win by Jack Sock and Vicky Duval in a mixed doubles rubber against Jiri Vesely and Karolina Pliskova. Sock gave the U.S. a 1–0 lead with a win over Vesely, but Duval, in just her seventh match since August after beating cancer, lost to Pliskova 4–6, 6–1, 6–4 to set up the decider.
Nick Kyrgios also showed up to support Sock. Here's what happened:
Only one seeded player into Shenzhen final four
Top-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska is the only seeded player into the Shenzhen Open semifinals after Petra Kvitova withdrew at the start of the tournament with illness and three other seeds were knocked out on Wednesday. Radwanska secured her spot in the final four with a 6–3, 6–2 win over China's Wang Qiang and will play Anna-Lena Friedsam. In the other semifinal match, Timea Babos will take on American Alison Riske after Babos defeated sixth-seeded Eugenie Bouchard 6–4, 6–4 and Riske beat Anett Kontaveit 6–1, 3–6, 6–3.
Safarova withdraws from Australian Open
World No. 9 Lucie Safarova announced on Thursday that she will miss the 2016 Australian Open due to her ongoing battle with a bacterial infection. With her absence, Venus Williams moves into the No. 8 seed for the first major tournament of the year.