Australian Open Daily Preview: Two ATP Quarterfinals Between Top 10 Players - UBITENNIS
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Australian Open Daily Preview: Two ATP Quarterfinals Between Top 10 Players

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Carlos Alcaraz on Monday in Melbourne (twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

The quarterfinals conclude on Wednesday in Melbourne.

Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev are one round away from a rematch of their US Open semifinal.  But in Wednesday’s quarterfinals, both have top 10 opposition standing in their way.  Alcaraz faces Sascha Zverev, who owns a winning record over Carlitos, while Medvedev faces Hubert Hurkacz, who owns a winning record over Daniil.

The WTA quarterfinals on Day 11 feature four women all vying for their Major semifinal debuts.  19-year-old Linda Noskova, who eliminated World No.1 Iga Swiatek from this tournament, takes on Ukrainian qualifier Dayana Yastremska. And 21-year-old Qinwen Zheng plays Anna Kalinskaya, a girls’ doubles champion eight years ago at this event.


Linda Noskova vs. Dayana Yastremska (Q) – Not Before 12:00pm on Rod Laver Arena

Noskova was previously just 2-5 at Majors ahead of this fortnight, but her talent was displayed outside the Majors in 2023.  She earned three top 10 wins last season (Azarenka, Jabeur, Kvitova), two of which came in Australia, and also reached her first two WTA tour finals.  After coming back from a set down in the third round to upset Swiatek, Linda only played three games in the fourth round, as sadly Elina Svitolina was forced to retire due to injury.

Yastremska advanced to the third round or better at three Majors in 2019 as a teenager, but until now hadn’t been that far ever since.  Her ranking and level never recovered from a doping suspension, which was later reversed.  The qualifier has won seven matches to this stage, which includes wins over three seeded players (Vondrousova, Navarro, Azarenka).

This will be their first career meeting, and obviously the biggest match of both players’ careers to date.  Noskova’s backhand and variety are her strengths, while Yastremska is more of an aggressive baseliner who looks to control rallies from the back of the court.  I give the slight edge to Linda, as her all-court game could bring a lot of errors out of Dayana.


Hubert Hurkacz (9) vs. Daniil Medvedev (3) – Not Before 1:30pm on Rod Laver Arena

Hurkacz is 3-2 against Medvedev, though only 1-2 on hard courts.  Their first encounter, three years ago in the fourth round of Wimbledon, was a five-setter spread across two days, with Hubi coming from behind to prevail on the second day of play.  Hurkacz also claimed their two most recent meetings, which both came in 2022, in Miami and Halle.

That Wimbledon 2021 victory advanced Hubi to his first Major quarterfinal, where he would upset Roger Federer in what would be Federer’s last singles match of his career.  And two-and-a-half years later, Hurkacz is finally back in a Major quarterfinal.  He’s dropped three sets to this stage, though outside of Ugo Humbert, all his opponents have been ranked outside the top 100.

Medvedev has lost four sets thus far, as he is yet to play his best tennis this fortnight.  But he remains one of the best hard court players the ATP has to offer, and is 6-0 in Major quarterfinals on this surface.  So despite his losing record against Hubi, Daniil should be favored to achieve his eighth Major semifinal.


Anna Kalinskaya vs. Qinwen Zheng (12) – 7:15pm on Rod Laver Arena

This is a second consecutive Major quarterfinal for Qinwen, who is on the verge of debuting inside the top 10.  She has a big game, and many expect her to compete for Major titles sooner than later, perhaps even later this week.  She’s dropped two sets through four matches, and easily won her fourth round contest against Oceane Dodin 6-0, 6-3.

Kalinskaya is another player who had never been beyond the second round of a Slam until now, and was just 4-13 at this level.  Tennis Abstract has a great article here breaking down her surprising run, and how her current ranking of No.75 is deceiving due to missing four months of 2023 due to injury.  The 25-year-old has also dropped two sets thus far, and came from behind in the third round to defeat US Open champion Sloane Stephens.

Two years ago in Guadalajara on a hard court, Anna claimed their only previous meeting in three sets.  But Zheng’s progression since that time is significant, and she’s the player with bigger weapons.  Qinwen is the favorite to advance to her first Major semifinal on Wednesday.


Sascha Zverev (6) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (2) – Last on Rod Laver Arena

Zverev leads their head-to-head 4-3 overall, and 3-1 on hard courts.  But Alcaraz went 2-1 in their 2023 encounters, which included his first hard court victory over the German, a straight-set win in the US Open quarterfinals.  At the end of last season, Sascha defeated Carlitos 6-4 in the third at the ATP Finals.

Like Medvedev, Alcaraz is yet to reach his highest level during this event, and frankly hasn’t done so since last summer.  Even so, he’s managed to lose only one set, and comfortably dispatched of an exhausted Miomir Kecmanovic in the last round by a score of 6-4, 6-4, 6-0.  Carlitos is playing to reach a fifth Slam semifinal in as many appearances.

Zverev has just barely advanced to this quarterfinal, as he’s already played two fifth-set tiebreaks.  He played for over four hours on Monday against Cam Norrie, so he’ll certainly feel less than 100% on Wednesday.  He’s vying for his seven Major semifinal, and is 6-4 in quarterfinals at this level.

If Zverev wasn’t coming off such a draining match, I’d be tempted to favor him in this quarterfinal.  But spending over two hours longer on court than Alcaraz in the previous round is not good preparation for defeating one of the sport’s fastest and fittest players.  And Sascha’s forehand was extremely vulnerable on Monday against Norrie.  I see Carlitos moving on to his first semifinal in Melbourne.


Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Casper Ruud Overcomes ‘Tough Start’ To Set De Minaur Final In Acapulco

Casper Ruud is into his first ATP 500 final after defeating Holger Rune in three sets.

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Casper Ruud is into his second consecutive final in Mexico after defeating Holger Rune 3-6 6-3 6-4 in Acapulco.

The Norwegian had to overcome an electric start from Rune to prevail in 2 hours and 24 minutes.

It was a clinical performance from Ruud who is now into his second consecutive final in Mexico after reaching the final in Los Cabos last week.

Speaking after the match Ruud admitted it was a tough start but he’s pleased to be in another final, “It was a tough start,” Ruud told the ATP website.

“Holger just came out firing bullets from the forehand, from the backhand and I had not too much time to play my game. I was frustrated at times, especially at the end of the first set, beginning of the second.

“I didn’t really feel like I got to play any points how I wanted to, so there was some frustration towards myself, towards my box, because I didn’t feel like we were doing the right thing.

“But luckily with one break in the second, it turned around a bit and in the third set it got a little physical. I think maybe Holger seemed like he was struggling a little bit and started firing even more and a couple of games it went in and he broke me, which is frustrating.

“Some unforced errors crept up on him and I served really well in the last game to close it out.”

Ruud is now into his first ATP 500 final in Acapulco where he will face defending champion Alex De Minaur.

De Minaur overcame Jack Draper after the Brit retired at 4-0 down in the deciding set.

Heading into Saturday’s final, De Minaur leads the head-to-head 1-0 although that was in a completely different scoring format in the Next Gen Finals.

Whatever happens on Saturday, Ruud will return to the world’s top ten.

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Andrey Rublev Disqualified In Dramatic Dubai Semi-Final

Andrey Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final in Dubai.

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Andrey Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final with Alexander Bublik after being accused of swearing in Russian.

The event took place in Dubai where Rublev had more than enough opportunities to win the match having been 4-2 40-0 up in the deciding set.

However Bublik came back into the match as he caught up with Rublev in what was turning into a fascinating contest.

The score was at 6-5 Bublik when Rublev’s frustrations boiled over when he allegedly told the official at the side of the court that he was a ‘f****** moron’ in Russian.

One of the officials on the sidelines at the side of the court reported the incident and the supervisor ruled that Rublev should be defaulted.

The incident below means that Rublev will now lose all his ranking points and prize money, resulting in Rublev exiting the world’s top five.

An ending that didn’t warrant the dramatic contest and after the match Bublik agreed that the consequences, “I highly doubt Andrey said something crazy,” Bublik was quoted by Sports Illustrated.

“He’s not this kind of guy. But I guess that’s the rules. That’s what they did, they just follow the procedure.”

Bublik will hope for a smoother finish to the final when he takes on Ugo Humbert for the title.

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Andy Murray Makes Retirement Hint After 500th Hard Court Win In Dubai

Andy Murray won his 500th hard court match in Dubai, placing him fifth on the all-time list.

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Andy Murray further hinted at retirement after securing a 500th hard court win of his career in Dubai.

The former world number one picked up his second win of the year with a 4-6 7-6(5) 6-3 victory over Denis Shapovalov.

In typical Andy Murray fashion, the Brit came back from a set down to defeat the out-of-sorts Canadian as he progressed to the second round.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUVj537F-wQ

The win means Murray now has 500 career wins on a hard court and that is an achievement the world number 67 is proud of, “It’s not bad,” Murray told the ATP website as he sits fifth on the all-time list of hard court wins.

“Obviously hard court has been a great surface for me over the years and 500 is a lot of matches so I’m very proud of that. There are not many players that have done that, so great to get to 500 before I’m done.”

However those post-match comments weren’t the most shocking ones as Murray once again hinted at retirement this season.

The Brit has made subtle remarks that this year may be his last one but Murray’s comments today suggests that he may have already made his decision, “I probably don’t have too long left but I’ll do as best as I can these last few months,” Murray was quoted by ESPN as saying.

“I still love competing and still love the game but it gets harder and harder to compete the older you get, to keep your body fit and fresh.”

If the end is near for Murray than the Brit will look to end his career on a high for the next few months.

Before thinking about retirement Murray will look to go further in Dubai when he takes on either Ugo Humbert or Gael Monfils in the second round.

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