The day’s most marquee matchup features two multi-time Major champions colliding.
Serena Williams is three wins away from her 24th Slam title, but the WTA’s most consistent performer of the last seven years stands in her way today. No woman has won more Majors over the last three years than Naomi Osaki, though she now faces one of the sport’s most unique and frustrating opponents. On the men’s side, Novak Djokovic seems to be relatively healthy despite an injury scare two rounds ago. On Tuesday, he takes on a man who was just two points from winning the last hard court Slam. Grigor Dimitrov upset the champion of that last hard court Slam in the last round, and will play the first man in 25 years to make the quarterfinals in his Grand Slam debut.
Each day during this fortnight, this preview will analyze the day’s most prominent matches, and note the other intriguing matchups on the schedule. Tuesday’s singles quarterfinals will begin at 12:30pm local time on Rod Laver Arena.
Naomi Osaka (3) vs. Su-Wei Hsieh
Osaka is coming off a thrilling fourth round contest on Sunday, when she saved two match points in a comeback victory over Garbine Muguruza. Su-Wei is the oldest player in the Open Era to make her debut in a Major quarterfinal. Naomi didn’t seem all that excited upon hearing the news of facing Hsieh, as her unorthodox style and strategy has driven many an opponent crazy. And Su-Wei owns a previous victory over Osaka, which came two years ago in Miami on a hard court. However, that was during a span when Naomi was slumping, as she had just split with her coach, and was adjusting to the expectations that come with being a Major champion. And though most of their other four prior meetings have been close, Naomi has claimed them all. Osaka will be well aware of the adjustments she needs to make in her game against Su-Wei, and should play freely after escaping defeat in the last round.
Grigor Dimitrov (18) vs. Aslan Karatsev (Q)
While Dominic Thiem was obviously at less than 100% on Sunday, Dimitrov played extremely well to dismiss him comfortably. Grigor was also the beneficiary of a retirement the round before from Pablo Carreno Busta, and is yet to drop a set. This run feels similar to his semifinal run at the 2019 US Open, when the draw opened up a bit for the 29-year-old Bulgarian, and he played some stellar tennis at crucial moments. Karatsev is the most shocking men’s quarterfinalist in recent memory. The 27-year-old Russian had never even played in the qualifying event of a Major prior to last fall’s Roland Garros. At this month’s ATP Cup, teammate Daniil Medvedev referred to Karatsev as their “secret weapon.” Aslan has played the best tennis of his career since the tour restart last summer, and won 18 of 20 Challenger matches to close out 2020. Karatsev can just bludgeon the ball, and has served extremely well. He’s averaged 10 aces per match, and was only broken twice through his first three rounds. Also, he’s shown he’s a fighter, as he came back from two sets down against a tight Felix Auger-Aliassime in the round of 16. Like Felix, we’ve often seen Grigor play tentatively in big moments, so that’s a concern today against a man he’s never faced before and likely knows little about. And Dimitrov often doesn’t excel when he is expected to win. But Grigor will still be the favorite against a player who is in completely uncharted territory.
Simona Halep (2) vs. Serena Williams (10)
This is the first time they will meet since Halep played the match of her life, dominating Serena in the championship match of Wimbledon in 2019. That’s only one of two victories for Simona in this rivalry, as Serena has owned this rivalry 9-2. They played at this event two years ago, with Serena prevailing in three sets. Both women fought their way through grueling encounters on Sunday: Halep against Iga Swiatek, and Serena against Aryna Sabalenka. After that match with Sabalenka, Serena spoke with ESPN’s Rennae Stubbs about how she’ll need to improve her first serve percentage going forward. In that match, it was only 52%, and dipped all the way down to 36% in the second set. Halep is a great returner who would love to see a high number of second serves coming her way. But this match will be on Serena’s racquet, as her power should be able to decide the outcome on these fast-playing courts.
Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Sascha Zverev (6)
Djokovic leads their head-to-head 5-2, which includes a close three-set win just two weeks ago on this same court during the ATP Cup. Novak was not sure if he’d be able to play two days ago after an injury to his right side, the details of which he has chosen not to disclose. But the eight-time champion looked pretty healthy during a four-set win over Milos Raonic on Sunday night. Zverev has been quietly advancing through this draw, winning his last 12 sets after dropping the first set of his opening round. Sascha may prefer the lack of attention this fortnight, as ex-girlfriend Olga Sharypova recently made allegations of domestic abuse against Zverev, allegations which Sascha has denied. He also had a recent legal dispute with his former agent, and has faced criticism of his pandemic-related decision making. His tennis hasn’t been impacted thus far, though this will be his first high-profile matchup of the fortnight. His second serve woes have subsided, at least for now. Through four rounds, Zverev has struck 65 aces and only 16 double faults. He’ll need to continue serving like that to have a chance against the best returner in the game. If he does, Sascha has a definitive chance to win, especially with Novak fighting an injury. But on a court where Djokovic feels right at home, the 17-time Major champion remains the favorite to reach a ninth Australian Open semifinal.
Other Notable Matches on Day 9:
In the women’s doubles quarterfinals, 2020 Strasbourg champions Nicole Melichar and Demi Schuurs (4) vs. Coco Gauff and Katy McNally, who won two WTA titles in 2019.
In another quarterfinal, Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka (2) vs. Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara (7). Mertens and Sabalenka both lost in the fourth round of singles, but won the 2019 US Open as a team. Aoyama and Shibahara are yet to lose this year, picking up two titles thus far.
And in a men’s doubles quarterfinal, Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (2) vs. Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert (8). Mektic and Pavic are undefeated since teaming up this season, with two titles. Mahut and Herbert were champions here two years ago, which completed their career Grand Slam.
Tuesday’s full order of play is here.
Petra Kvitova beats Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova to advance to the quarter final in Doha
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova knocked out Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 6-3 to advance to the quarter finals at the Qatar Total Open in Doha. Kvitova hit 31 winners to 19 unforced errors.
Kvitova saved two break points to hold serve after two deuces. Kvitova broke twice in a row to win the fisrt set 6-1. The Czech saved three of the four break points she faced.
Pavlyuchenkova took a 3-1 lead with a break in the fourth game of the second set, but Kvitova reeled off five games with three consecutive breaks to close out the second set 6-3.
Number 8 seed Victoria Azarenka rallied from a slow start to beat German qualifier and Roland Garros quarter finalist Laura Siegemund 6-4 6-2.
Siegemund broke serve in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Azarenka broke back in the fifth game of the first set to draw level to 3-3. Siegemund was unable to convert eight game points in a marathon seventh game featuring 12 deuces. Azarenka converted her fourth break point to take a 4-3 lead, but Siegemund broke back to draw level to 4-4. Azarenka broke again in the ninth game to win the first set 6-4.
Azarenka raced out to a 5-0 lead with three breaks, but she was not able to serve out the win on her first attempt in the sixth game. Siegemund pulled one break back in the sixth game. Azarenka sealed the win on her fifth match point with a hold in the eighth game to secure her spot in the quarter finals.
Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit cruised past three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber 6-1 6-4 to advance to the third round. Kontaveit dropped her serve once in the entire match.
Kontaveit went up a double break in the second and fourth games to cruise through to a 6-1 win in the opening set. The Estonian player raced out to a 4-1 lead with two consecutive breaks. Kerber pulled one break back in the sixth game for 2-4. Kontaveit held her next service games to claim the second set 6-4. Kontaveit has extended her win-loss record to 4-1 in her five head-to-head matches against Kerber.
This year’s Australian Open quarter finalist Jessica Pegula beat 2016 Doha finalist Jelena Ostapenko 6-2 7-5.
Pegula earned a double break in the third and seventh games to close out the first set 6-2.
The second set started with three consecutive breaks. Pegula took a 2-1 lead with two breaks in the first and third games. Ostapenko broke back at love to draw level to 4-4 after winning 12 consecutive points from 2-4 down.
Pegula won 12 of the last 14 points from 4-5 down to claim the second set 7-5 with a break in the 11th game.
Maria Sakkari eased past Madison Keys 6-2 6-2 with two breaks in each set. The Greek player earned an early break at love in the third game to take a 3-1 lead. Sakkari converted her fourth break point after eight games to win the first set 6-2. Sakkari saved a break point and broke twice in a row in the fifth and seventh games to win the second set 6-2.
Alexander Bublik pulls off the biggest win of his career as he upsets Alexander Zverev in Rotterdam
Alexander Bublik produced the biggest win of his career to reach the second round in Rotterdam.
The Kazak world number 43 stunned the tennis world beating the number three seed and world number seven.
Alexander Bublik is through to the second round of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam at the Ahoy after beating the world number seven and number three seed Alexander (Sascha) Zverev in straight sets 7-5 6-3. Bublik hit 21 winners in the match while Zverev finished the match with 20 unforced errors.
A good start for the German
Zverev hadn’t played a match since losing in the Australian Open quarterfinal vs Novak Djokovic a couple of weeks back so we didn’t know if rust was going to be an issue.
The German actually got off to a great start earning two break points in the opening game of the match and managed to get the early break and we though this was going to be the in form Zverev we are used to seeing.
At 4-3 the Kazak had a chance to go back on serve setting up two break points with a brilliant passing shot and breaking the very next point as the number three seed missed a volley at the net to even the set at 4-4.
With the world number seven serving to stay in the set the world number 43 went on the attack and managed to earn a set point with a stunning forehand winner.
He would break and take the first set 7-5 winning the next point with a great finish at the net with a overhead.
The Kazak pulls it off
After both players held their opening service games in the second set the German had a chance to take another lead and broke to take an early 2-1 lead as Bublik hit an untimed unforced error.
The Kazak would once again bounce back and this time break to go back on serve at 3-3 as the German was struggling making lots of unforced errors. The very next game he had five breakpoints to take the lead and it took him until the fifth break chance to get it done as he would break with a superb passing shot to take a 5-3 lead.
Bublik would serve out the match to take it in straights and send another seed packing. After the match Bublik gave his thoughts about the big win in an on court interview.
“Well I mean ya beating Sascha is great I guess, the match was up and down for both of us, I don’t think he played well today , I didn’t play well either, had some problems with the serve, I was a bit more consistent today, I was a bit more lucky in a few shots here and there, I believe I had more luck than he did today but I’m happy to get through”.
Bublik will face Tommy Paul in the next round with a chance to make the quarterfinals after making the final last week in Singapore and falling just short.
Stefanos Tsitsipas Ousts Gerasimov In Rotterdam Opener
The 22-year-old was made to work harder than he expected during his opening match.
It was a tricky day at the office for Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas who ousted Belarus’ Egor Gerasimov in the first round of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.
The second seed required nearly two hours to score a 7-6(4), 7-5, win over the world No.76 who reached the semi-finals of the Open Sud de France last week. Tsitsipas was tested throughout the 116-minute clash but managed to prevail with the help of 31 winners against 29 unforced errors.
“I had to play more consistently and also what I increased in the [key] moments was the speed of my ball, which felt kind of floppy before. He had a solid game, he was serving well at times. He wasn’t missing a lot, so it was difficult,” atptour.com quoted Tsitsipas as saying afterwards. “I think once I put in my head that I needed to fight and I [couldn’t] take [any] single moment for granted, things changed and I felt the confidence.”
During what was a roller coaster opening set, the second seed let out bursts of frustration as he failed to tame his opponent on the court. Tsitsipas broke for a 3-2 lead and looked to be gaining momentum after leading 40-0 in the following game. Then a series of costly mistakes from the Greek enabled Gerasimov to claw his way back and level. Much to the bemusement of the world No.6 who smash his racket on the floor out of anger at one stage.
As both players continued to exchange in lengthy rallies, a tense tiebreaker eventually separated the two. Trading mini breaks, Tsitsipas secured the breakthrough he sought a couple points later with the help of a backhand error from his opponent to move him ahead 5-4. This time he was able to consolidate the lead to clinch the opener after hitting an unreturned serve down the centre of the court.
It was a case of deja vu in the second set for Tsitsipas who saw another break advantage come and go within two games during the early stages. Once again he struggled to pull away from his rival who produced some high quality tennis that exceeded his current ranking position. Nudging ahead to a game from victory at 6-5 Tsitsipas managed to snatch the match with the help of two consecutive errors from Gerasimov.
Despite playing in Rotterdam for the fifth year in a row, it is only the second time Tsitsipas has won a main draw match at the tournament. The first time was last year against Hubert Hurkacz who he will coincidentally play against in the next round of this year’s edition.
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