2021 Australian Open: What to Watch on Tuesday Night


Rod Laver Arena | 11 p.m. TuesdayAndrey Rublev vs. Daniil MedvedevAndrey Rubley and Daniil Medvedev secured the ATP Cup for Russia earlier this month, with neither player losing a singles match throughout. In their three meetings on the ATP Tour, Medvedev has come out on top each time, including in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open in September.This may be Rublev’s chance to finally overcome his friendly rival. He has looked particularly dominant, not dropping a set throughout the tournament. His match against Casper Ruud ended after only two sets when the Norwegian withdrew with an injury. Going into the quarterfinals, Rublev has led the field in both percentage of first service points won and second service points won, a sign of how hard it has been for opponents to break his serve.Medvedev has also been playing well, aside from a chaotic, disorganized third round match against Filip Krajinovic. He has now won 18 matches in a row, with his last loss coming in October at a tournament in Vienna. Although the fast surface fits Medvedev’s flat baseline shots, Rublev’s open stance is well suited in defense, and we’re sure to see many dynamic, aggressive point.Rod Laver Arena | 3:30 a.m. WednesdayRafael Nadal vs. Stefanos TsitsipasRafael Nadal, the No. 2 seed, has moved smoothly through the first four rounds, no surprise for a player with 20 Grand Slam titles. Although Nadal won his only Australian Open title over a decade ago, he has reached the finals on four other occasions since, and is a clear favorite in his half of the draw to do so again. Nadal’s powerful topspin shots are well-suited to clay courts where he can drag opponents around with tightly angled shots. Nadal’s ability to exploit his opponent’s weaknesses with relentless pressure can break most players on their best days.Stefanos Tsitsipas, the ATP finals winner in 2019, is a study in unpredictability. The fifth seed has a capable all-court game, but lacks the consistency to execute match after match. The 22-year-old has worked to improve this aspect of his game, but needed five sets to push back unseeded Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round. After receiving a walkover in the round of 16, Tsitsipas will be well rested and hoping for an advantage against one of the most mentally tough players on tour.

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Daniil Medvedev Finds Another Way of Playing Professional Tennis


At 23, Rublev is two years younger than Medvedev and grew up playing junior tournaments against him in Russia. For a long time Rublev, seeded No. 8, and Karen Khachanov, 24, the third member of Russia’s latest golden generation, were better than Medvedev. The rise for Medvedev came in 2018 and 2019, when he nearly beat Rafael Nadal in the 2019 United States Open final.“He reads the game really well,” Rublev said of Medvedev. “It’s amazing, the patience he has to stay so long in the rallies, to not rush, to take the time, because in the end these little details, they make him who he is.”Russia is the only country with two players in the top 10. Khachanov gives it three in the top 20. Aslan Karatsev, 27, another Russian ranked No. 114, came out of nowhere to make the quarterfinals here in his first Grand Slam tournament.Medvedev comes into the quarterfinal on perhaps the best roll of his career. He has won 18 consecutive singles matches. He won the ATP Tour finals in London in November, pulling off the nifty trick of beating the world’s top three players — Novak Djokovic, Nadal and Dominic Thiem — in a single tournament. For Russia at the ATP Cup, he beat Alexander Zverev of Germany, a 2020 U.S. Open finalist, in a tight, three-set match in the semifinal round.Medvedev spent his early childhood in Moscow and played few sports other than tennis growing up. He worshiped Russia’s last golden generation, which included Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who were in their prime when he was a young child. He moved to France to train as a teenager and became fluent in English and French.Medvedev could be heard screaming at his coach, Gilles Cervara of France, in French during his third-round match against Filip Krajinovic of Serbia, as he frittered away a two-set lead before recovering to win the final set, 6-0.

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Serena hurdles Halep test to reach Australian Open semifinals

FILE PHOTO: Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 16, 2021. Serena Williams of the U.S. celebrates winning her quarterfinal match against Romania’s Simona Halep. REUTERS/Loren Elliott
MELBOURNE—Serena Williams came through a huge test of her Australian Open title credentials to reach the last four at Melbourne Park for the ninth time with a 6-3 6-3 victory over Simona Halep in a high quality quarterfinal on Tuesday.
The 39-year-old went toe-to-toe with the Romanian second seed over 80 minutes on Rod Laver Arena before she was finally able to move to within two victories of a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title.
Williams hit some ferocious forehands and moved around the court with a freedom that she has not enjoyed for a good while to set up a semifinal meeting against in-form Japanese third seed Naomi Osaka.

“It’s so good to see someone [@naomiosaka] that is so inspiring on both things.” 💙
Even 7️⃣x #AusOpen champion @serenawilliams draws inspiration from her #AO2021 semifinal opponent 🙌 pic.twitter.com/yzASWfp1Gn
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) February 16, 2021

“I think this was the best match I have played at this tournament for sure,” Williams said after celebrating her win to the accompaniment of canned applause as Melbourne’s coronavirus lockdown kept the fans away for a fourth day.
“I knew it had to be going up against the number two in the world. I had to be better and I was, so I’m excited.”
If any match at this year’s tournament deserved a crowd, it was this. There were nine breaks of serve as two great competitors punched and counter-punched over lengthy rallies.
Williams was always in front in the first set but needed to dig deep to wrestle back the momentum after Halep took a 3-1 lead in the second.
Eventually, however, Williams broke for 4-3 after a 13-shot rally where she showed incredible athleticism to get to a couple of shots that would have defied most players.
Seven minutes later, she wrapped up the contest with a huge forehand, her 24th winner.
Williams has not landed one of the game’s major prizes since her seventh title at Melbourne Park in 2017, with Halep’s victory in the 2019 Wimbledon final denying her one opportunity to match Margaret Court’s record.
After gaining a measure of revenge for that defeat, Williams has the chance to avenge another when she plays Osaka, who won the 2018 U.S. Open final between the two.
“She’s a great player on the court and an inspirational person off it,” said Williams.
“I feel this is a great opportunity for me just to do my best in the first Grand Slam of the year.”

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Aslan Karatsev of Russia Continues an Unlikely Run at Australian Open


He is the mystery man who few in the sport had heard of just days ago. But Aslan Karatsev of Russia has landed in the semifinals of the Australian Open.In one of the most unlikely runs in the history of modern tennis, Karatsev on Tuesday became one of the few players to make the final four of a Grand Slam after surviving the qualifying tournament when he beat an ailing Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria in four sets 2-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.Karatsev, 27, who was born in Russia, moved to Israel as a child, then returned to Russia as a teenager to pursue better tennis training, according to The Times of Israel. He had been playing in the tennis hinterlands for several years with little success. He had never qualified for a Grand Slam before this tournament. He won three straight matches at the Australian Open qualifying event in Doha to win a spot in the main event and came in ranked No. 114 in the world. He has never been ranked higher than No. 111.Dimitrov appeared to have the match under control after the first set but suffered what looked to be back spasms in the third set and appeared to be on the edge of retiring for the rest of the match.Just four other players have made the semifinals of a Grand Slam after getting through the qualifying event.Ahead of the Australian Open, he played doubles for Team Russia in the ATP Cup, a team event in which players represent their countries. Russia won the competition, but not because of Karatsev, who lost all three matches in which he played with two different partners.His teammates noticed that he was playing as well as they had ever seen, and yet none of them would have predicted anything like this.“We felt like he could do something amazing,” Daniil Medvedev, Russia’s top player and the No. 4 seed in the Australian Open. “To be honest, being in your first Grand Slam main draw? Making quarters is something exceptional. He’s not over yet.”He certainly is not.Karatsev will take on the winner of the match between Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev, which is scheduled for Tuesday night.

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Hsieh Su-Wei จะเผชิญหน้ากับ Naomi Osaka ที่ Australian Open


เมลเบิร์นออสเตรเลีย – สนามเทนนิสกลายเป็นกระจกบ้านที่สนุกสนานเมื่อผู้เล่นข้ามตาข่ายคือ Hsieh Su-Wei ราชินีแห่งการยิงลูกสูงสุดที่บิดตัวบิดมุมฉากและการยิงด้วยมือสองข้างจากทั้งสองฝ่ายสามารถตีเธอได้ ฝ่ายตรงข้าม นาโอมิโอซาก้าแชมป์แกรนด์สแลม 3 สมัยได้ยินเสียงถอนหายใจเมื่อวันอาทิตย์ที่ผ่านมาเมื่อได้รับแจ้งว่ารางวัลของเธอในการป้องกันสองแต้มในการแข่งขันกับการ์บีนมูกูรูซาคือการพบกับ Hsieh ซึ่งมาถึงตำแหน่งของเธอในรอบก่อนรองชนะเลิศในขณะที่โอซาก้าพยายามดิ้นรนเพื่อแก้ไขปัญหา “เธอ เป็นหนึ่งในผู้เล่นที่สำหรับฉันถ้าเป็นวิดีโอเกมฉันจะเลือกตัวละครของเธอเพียงเพื่อเล่นเธอ” โอซาก้าแชมป์ปี 2019 กล่าว“ เพราะใจของฉันไม่เข้าใจตัวเลือกที่เธอเลือกเมื่อเธออยู่บน ศาล ” โอซาก้าวัย 23 ปีกล่าวเสริมว่า“ มันไม่ใช่เรื่องสนุกที่จะเล่นกับเธอ แต่มันสนุกมากที่ได้ดู” Hsieh วัย 35 ปีประสบความสำเร็จมากกว่าในประเภทคู่ผสม ซึ่งเธอและคู่หูของเธอ Barbora Strycova มาถึงเมลเบิร์นพาร์คในฐานะเมล็ดพันธุ์ที่ดีที่สุดและออกมาในรอบที่สอง แชมป์แกรนด์สแลมสามสมัยในประเภทคู่ Hsieh ไม่เคยผ่านเข้ารอบก่อนรองชนะเลิศในประเภทเดี่ยวในการจับรางวัลใหญ่ 37 รายการในแกรนด์สแลมก่อนหน้านี้ “เธอคงจะทุบฉันตายในสนาม” Hsieh พูดอย่างร่าเริง “ฉันพยายามเล่นเกมทำงานของฉันดูว่าจะเกิดอะไรขึ้น” Hsieh มีใบหน้าที่มีความสุขสงบ แต่เบื้องหลังรอยยิ้มนั้นซ่อนความเป็นคู่แข่งเหล็กเอาไว้ เธอเล่นโอซาก้า 5 ครั้งและการแข่งขันสี่รายการดำเนินไปสามเซ็ตรวมถึงชัยชนะครั้งเดียวของ Hsieh ในรอบสามที่ไมอามีในปี 2019 เมื่อโอซาก้าเป็นอันดับ 1 ของโลกถามว่าอะไรทำให้การเล่น Hsieh เป็นเรื่องท้าทายโอซาก้ากล่าว คุณได้ดูเธอเล่นหรือไม่ ” เธอหัวเราะ “ มันเหมือนกับว่า ‘อะไรนะ? “” เธอกล่าวเสริม “ฉันรู้ว่าสำหรับฉันเมื่อใดก็ตามที่ฉันเล่นเธอฉันก็ต้องรอทุกอย่าง” ความขัดแย้งระหว่าง Hsieh ของไต้หวันและโอซาก้าของญี่ปุ่นเป็นการศึกษาที่แตกต่างกัน โอซาก้าสร้างความเร็วและ Hsieh เปลี่ยนเส้นทาง โอซาก้าเป็นแม่เหล็กทางการตลาดที่เพิ่ม Louis Vuitton, Tag Heuer และ Workday เข้ามาในพอร์ตโฟลิโอสนับสนุนก่อนการแข่งขัน Australian Open Hsieh ไม่มีผู้สนับสนุนส่วนหนึ่งในแง่ของการออกแบบ “ ฉันค่อนข้างจะเป็นคนเรียบง่าย” Hsieh กล่าวซึ่งกิจวัตรการแข่งขันในการซื้อชุดเทนนิสลดราคาถูกคว่ำลงโดยการปิดล้อมทั่วทั้งรัฐเมื่อสัปดาห์ที่แล้ว เกมที่ทรงพลังในโอซาก้าเป็นเกมที่ได้รับความนิยม แต่สไตล์ที่ประณีตยิ่งขึ้นของ Hsieh จะไม่มีวันหลุดโลก เธอเป็นศิลปินที่เปลี่ยนสภาคองเกรสด้วยวิสัยทัศน์ที่ผิดปกติซึ่งทำให้ศาลมีรูปร่างเช่นเดียวกับกระทะ Bundt ที่ให้รูปร่างกับแป้งที่เทลงไป “ ฉันคิดว่าเธอมีมือที่น่าทึ่งและดวงตาที่น่าทึ่ง” เซเรน่าวิลเลียมส์กล่าว โค้ช Patrick Mouratoglou “เธอเห็นบอลเร็วเห็นเยอะและคาดหวัง” นั่นเป็นเหตุผลว่าทำไมเธอถึงมีความเคลื่อนไหวทางเศรษฐกิจเขากล่าวเสริมว่า “แล้วทำไมเธอถึงเล่นยากจัง” ในช่วงสามสัปดาห์ที่ผ่านมาความพยายามอย่างหนักในการเตรียม Hsieh ที่มีไหวพริบสำหรับการแข่งขันของเธอตกเป็นของ Andrew Whittington ซึ่งผ่านเข้าสู่รอบรองชนะเลิศประเภทชายคู่ใน Australian Open 2017 และทะลุ 200 อันดับแรกในประเภทเดี่ยว Whittington ใช้เวลาเกือบหนึ่งชั่วโมงในการให้อาหารแก่ Hsieh ด้วยบริการที่แข็งแบนและจัดวางอย่างดีซึ่งเป็นเอกลักษณ์ของโอซาก้า Paul McNamee โค้ชของ Hsieh สั่งให้ Whittington ไม่เก็บอะไรไว้ หลังจากที่ Hsieh ล้มเหลวในการเข้าถึงไม้ของเขาด้วยลูกบอลไปที่มือหลังของเขา McNamee ก็ก้าวออกไปข้าง ๆ Hsieh และบอกว่าเธอจะเห็นว่ามันเสิร์ฟโอซาก้าได้มาก Hsieh พยักหน้าอย่างเคร่งขรึม วินาทีต่อมาเธอยกลูกบอลขึ้นจากสนามด้วยจรวดของเธอหันหลังกลับไปที่ตาข่ายและยิงสายรุ้งที่มองไม่เห็นไปที่ Whittington ซึ่งทำได้แค่หัวเราะ McNamee อธิบายว่า Hsieh เป็นจิตวิญญาณอิสระและกล่าวว่า “คุณไม่ต้องการบรรจุวิญญาณนั้นคุณต้องปล่อยให้มันลุกขึ้นและเป็นอิสระ” McNamee กล่าวเสริมว่า “ฉันได้เรียนรู้มากมายจากความสุขของความเงียบขณะทำงานกับ Su-Wei” ในช่วงนาทีสุดท้ายของการฝึกซ้อมตลอดทั้งชั่วโมง Whittington ได้เปิดตัวบริการจาก Hsieh รวมถึงบางส่วน เขาเตรียมพร้อมสำหรับคำถามเหล่านั้นมากกว่าคำถามที่เธอถามเขาในตอนท้ายของการฝึกซ้อม “บริการของฉันช้ามากไหม” เธอพูด. เป็นกรณีที่หายากเมื่อเธอไม่ได้ล้อเล่น เมื่อรู้สึกถึงช่องโหว่ของ Hsieh Whittington จึงรีบดำเนินการอย่างรวดเร็วเพื่อให้มั่นใจว่าบริการของเธอนั้นดี เช่นเดียวกับลูกศรที่เหลือในกระดานปาเป้าของเธอมันคมอย่างหลอกลวง Hsieh นำ 71 เปอร์เซ็นต์ของบริการแรกของเธอลงเล่นในทัวร์นาเมนต์นี้ ความจริงใจของ Hsieh ความไม่รู้สึกตัวของเธอคือ“ สิ่งที่ทำให้เธอมีเอกลักษณ์และยอดเยี่ยมมากที่จะร่วมงานด้วย” Whittington กล่าว Whittington นำไม้เทนนิสเข้ามาในเซสชั่นตีมากกว่า Hsieh ซึ่งโดยทั่วไปจะเดินทางด้วยกัน McNamee อธิบายว่า Hsieh ใช้เวลาสามปีโดยไม่หักเชือก นักร้องที่ใช้ไม้ตีเป็นไม้ค้ำยัน Hsieh เสียใจที่การปิดล้อมจะปิดแฟน ๆ จนถึงวันพุธและอาจนานกว่านั้น “ ฉันคิดว่าฉันแค่อยู่เหมือนเดิมสนุก ๆ พยายามมองโลกในแง่ดี” เธอกล่าว “ถ้าฉันไม่ชนะฉันหวังว่าการกักกันจะสิ้นสุดลงเร็ว ๆ นี้ฉันจะได้สนุกกับมันสักหน่อย” แม้ว่าโอซาก้าจะมาพร้อมกับชัยชนะ แต่เธอก็สงสัยว่ามันจะน่าพอใจ ในรอบสามของ Australian Open 2019 โอซาก้าเอาชนะ Hsieh, 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 มันไม่ใช่ความทรงจำที่น่ายินดี “ ฉันจำได้ว่าฉันมีอารมณ์มากมายเพียงเพราะฉันรู้สึกว่าฉันไม่สามารถควบคุมหลาย ๆ อย่างได้ในขณะที่ฉันเล่นกับเธอ” โอซาก้ากล่าว มันเป็นจุดแข็งที่สุดของ Hsieh เธอสามารถสร้างผู้เล่นที่ดีที่สุดและทรงพลังที่สุดอย่างทำอะไรไม่ถูก

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Injured Djokovic ‘gambles’ to play on at Australian Open

FILE – Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 10, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning his second round match against Frances Tiafoe of the U.S. REUTERS/Jaimi Joy
Novak Djokovic says it’s a “gamble” to keep playing the Australian Open and his abdominal injury could have an impact on the rest of his season, but the world number one is prepared to take the risk.
The Serbian eight-time champion sustained a “muscle tear” during a thrilling five-setter against Taylor Fritz on Friday.
He didn’t train the following day but took to Rod Laver Arena Sunday evening dosed up on painkillers to see off the threat posed by big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic over four sets and make the quarterfinals.
Djokovic said the pain was “bearable” and he “somehow managed to find a way and win”.
But he is not planning to train again on Monday, instead working on his recovery ahead of his last-eight clash with sixth seed Alexander Zverev.
“I mean, it’s kind of a gamble, that’s what the medical team told me. It’s really unpredictable, you can’t know what’s going to happen with you once you’re on the court,” he said.
“You’re not gonna save yourself or think about going for that point or this shot or that shot. It just pulls you. It’s normal. Playing at this level, you just want to give it your all.
“It could cause much more damage than it is at the moment, but also could go in a good direction.”
The 33-year-old refused to say what exactly the problem was, although his abdomen was strapped against Raonic and he said after the Fritz clash that was it “a tear of the muscle”.
‘There is always a risk’
“I know what it is, but I don’t want to talk about it now. I’m still in the tournament,” he said, conscious that he does not want to give Zverev any extra ammunition to target him.
“I hope you guys understand that. I don’t want to speculate too much about it.”
Djokovic’s win against Raonic was his 300th at a Slam, only the second player in history to reach the mark after Roger Federer, who has 362.
It kept him on track for an 18th Grand Slam title in his bid to close in on the 20 held by the Swiss great and Rafael Nadal.
His drive for more Slam crowns is the reason he hasn’t pulled out, making clear that if it was any tournament other than a Grand Slam he would have withdrawn.
But playing on could mean he faces a period on the sidelines after Melbourne to recover.
“I have talked a lot with my own medical team and also the medical team of Tennis Australia — Australian Open,” he said.
“They all share the opinion that there is a slight, very slight, slim chance that I will make a significant damage that would take me out of the tour for whatever, some extended period of time.
“So, yes, there is always a risk that the injury will get worse, but they don’t think it’s going to be very significantly worse that it’s going to jeopardize my entire season.
“So it will jeopardize, depending on how I go here, certain tournaments that are coming after Australian Open that I was maybe thinking to play.”

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Speed of Courts at Issue in Australian Open


MELBOURNE, Australia — The chatter about the speed of the tennis courts at the Australian Open this year started innocently enough.It was just before the ATP Cup, the team competition at Melbourne Park that preceded the Australian Open, the year’s first Grand Slam event. Dominic Thiem of Austria, the winner of last year’s United States Open, mentioned he had been practicing at John Cain Arena, and the ball seemed to be coming off the blue hardcourt pretty darn fast.Days later, Novak Djokovic, the world No. 1 and eight-time champion of the Australian Open, said the court at Rod Laver Arena, which he refers to as his second backyard, felt strikingly fast. Then, after his second-round defeat of Frances Tiafoe of the United States, Djokovic said it was playing faster than at any other time since he began playing here 15 years ago, which is not a bad thing for perhaps the game’s most precise and effective ball striker. He said it again after beating Milos Raonic in the fourth round Sunday night. On Friday night, Thiem, the No. 3 seed, came back from two sets down to beat the fan favorite Nick Kyrgios of Australia in the third round, and spoke of all the challenges he had faced — a hostile crowd, Kyrgios’s booming serve and “the fastest Grand Slam Court I have ever played on.”Few players have disagreed.Their comments have caught Tennis Australia, the organizer of the Australian Open and the keeper of the courts at Melbourne Park, a bit off guard. Last year at the Australian Open, some players complained the courts were too slow.Machar Reid, the head of innovation for Tennis Australia, knows the most about the condition of the courts. He said pretournament tests produced results similar to last year, the first year the Australian Open contracted with GreenSet, which supplies the acrylic coating of the courts, essentially the paint.“What we aim for is consistency, year after year, not just here but for all the facilities in the country, so the players are playing on a similar surface no matter where they are,” Reid said in an interview last week. “All our indications are that the courts are the same.”Without getting overly technical in evaluating the tests against the experiences of multimillionaire athletes who have hit countless shots on countless courts and are sensitive to the tiniest changes in conditions, it is worth noting that tennis players consistently suffer from the Goldilocks syndrome.Tennis courts are always either too fast or too slow, too slick or too sticky. Players can shift their opinion midway through a match if the weather changes. They are not an easy lot to please.Men seem to obsess and complain about the speed more than women, perhaps because they hit harder. A serve traveling at 130 miles per hour is plenty difficult to return on a normal court. On a too-fast court it is tough to get the racket on it.The International Tennis Federation, the sport’s world governing body, classifies tennis courts into one of five categories for its Court Pace Rating: slow, medium-slow, medium, medium-fast and fast. A surface receives its classification after various tests that include measuring how high a ball bounces when it hits the surface at different speeds and how easily it slides when it is dragged across it, as well as other factors.The red clay of the French Open is the slowest Grand Slam surface. Playing on the grass of Wimbledon in certain conditions can feel like playing on an ice rink, with the ball skidding and barely rising above a player’s shins. The slightly cushioned hardcourts at the United States Open and the Australian Open are plenty fast, but the ball generally pops up. The speed can be adjusted from year to year depending on the grittiness of the acrylic coating — think of it as adding sand to paint.All the courts at Melbourne Park were polished and given a fresh coat of the GreenSet acrylic before this year’s tournament. Reid said Tennis Australia aims to provide a court that lands right in the middle of the I.T.F. classification scale because the organization believes that kind of court produces the best tennis.A court rated in the fastest category would too heavily favor the big servers and prevent points from developing. A slow court would encourage players to stay back and turn each point into a defensive chess match. A medium court allows tennis to hit that delicate balance between athleticism and strategy.The problem is tennis tournaments don’t take place in a static environment. No matter what the numbers say, how “fast” a tennis court plays is the result of an incalculable and ever-changing interaction of the ball, the surface of the court and the climate.Changes in the weather can have a drastic effect on how a ball moves. Cooler weather can make a tennis ball feel like a rock on the racket and lessen its bounce. When the temperature rises, the ball becomes livelier. There have been a few hot days in the past month, but the weather has been rather cool for the Melbourne summer.Then again, racket and string technologies are always improving, allowing players to hit harder, with more topspin than ever. Also, courts generally speed up with increased play, and the courts at Melbourne Park have experienced significantly more play than normal this year. Players began practicing on the courts three weeks before the Australian Open. Five separate competitions took place the week before the tournament started.And yet it’s a mystery whether the courts are truly faster and how big a factor that will play in the outcome of the tournament.Fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, whose game is laced with power, described the court at Rod Laver Arena as one of the slowest at Melbourne Park and not that different from the courts at other Grand Slam events.But Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, one of the game’s great baseline defenders, described the courts as “really, really quick.” Schwartzman, the No. 8 seed, lost in the third round to Aslin Karatsev, a hard-hitting Russian ranked 114th in the world and playing in his first Grand Slam singles tournament. Karatsev dispatched Schwartzman in three sets.“He’s a guy who was doing very powerful shots every single time, and the court was not helping,” Schwartzman said. “I prefer it a little bit slower, to have better conditions so you can think a little bit more in the match and you can have choices, different choices, different shots.”In the fourth round, Karatsev came back from two sets down to defeat Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada, the No. 20 seed.“I played here before, and it was slower,” Karatsev said. “But for me, it’s good. I think the fast surface for me, it’s always good.”On Sunday, Thiem, the big hitter who started all this chatter, lost badly to Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria at Rod Laver Arena, 6-4, 6-4, 6-0.“It was very, very fast, probably the fastest Grand Slam I’ve played so far,” Thiem said. “But that wasn’t the issue.”After the tournament, Reid said, he will evaluate the reams of data produced by the Hawk-Eye system, which takes hundreds of measurements per second of the ball and the court position of each player. It should provide some insight into whether the courts were faster this year. Or maybe it won’t.

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Brilliant Barty sweeps into Australian Open quarterfinals

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 15, 2021 Australia’s Ashleigh Barty celebrates winning her fourth round match against Shelby Rogers of the U.S. REUTERS/Kelly Defina
MELBOURNE – Ash Barty made light of the challenge of unseeded American Shelby Rogers with a commanding 6-3 6-4 victory to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open for the third year in a row on Monday.
The world number one has tried to deflect talk that she might end Australia’s 43-year wait for a homegrown champion next Saturday but she looked every bit the title contender as she swept into the last eight without dropping a set.

The quest for a home Grand Slam title continues ✨@ashbarty is into her third consecutive #AusOpen quarterfinal.#AO2021 pic.twitter.com/CUIVUeg2XE
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) February 15, 2021

Rogers has played quarterfinals at two Grand Slams and made a habit of upsetting highly-ranked players but she was unable to get enough of a handle on Barty’s serve to make her high-quality returns a factor.
Barty faltered for the first time with victory in sight, allowing Rogers to take back one of the two breaks of serve she had given up in the second set, but the top seed fixed a quarterfinal date with Czech Karolina Muchova two games later.

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Nadal gathers strength as injuries strike rivals

Photo from Australian Open (@AustralianOpen) Twitter account
MELBOURNE – For a player who was all doom and gloom about his fitness on the eve of the Australian Open, Rafa Nadal emerged as an unlikely pillar of strength on day eight as injuries cut a swathe through the men’s draw on Monday.
Nadal’s bid for a record 21st Grand Slam crown gathered pace with a 6-3 6-4 6-2 demolition of Fabio Fognini that pushed the Spaniard into his 13th quarterfinal at Melbourne Park.

Sealed with an ace 💥@RafaelNadal advances to the #AusOpen quarterfinals for the 1️⃣3️⃣th time.#AO2021 pic.twitter.com/JoH9B67n8S
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) February 15, 2021

The lower back strain that forced Nadal to miss the ATP Cup is now disappearing in the rear-view mirror and he heads into his next clash against fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas without having dropped a set.
“The first set without a doubt has been my best level in the tournament,” Nadal told reporters after routing 16th seed Fognini on a sun-bathed afternoon at Rod Laver Arena.
“It’s normal, too, because I was able to practice for two days in a row.
“I’m excited about playing that quarterfinals match.
“If we compare how I was five days ago and how I am today’s situation, it’s different, and my perspective and excitement is completely different, too.”
While Nadal booked his 43rd Grand Slam quarterfinal with two hours and 16 minutes of work against Fognini, Tsitsipas did not lift a racket against ninth seed Matteo Berrettini, who pulled out with an abdominal strain.
Norwegian Casper Ruud’s hopes of a maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal were also undone by an abdominal injury as he retired two sets in against Russian Andrey Rublev.
Players’ fitness at the Grand Slam has been under the microscope after they spent two weeks in mandatory hotel quarantine, with some blaming their exits on limited preparations.
Defending champion Novak Djokovic, who said he had torn an abdominal muscle against Taylor Fritz, has soldiered on and was able to dispatch Milos Raonic on Sunday to book a quarterfinal against Alexander Zverev.
Djokovic was cagey about his injury when probed about it after the Raonic match, saying he did not want to “speculate” and that it was a “gamble” to play on.
Having had his fair share of injuries over the years, Nadal felt there was little point in trying to conceal their true nature.
“Well, it’s difficult to hide things,” he said.
“I think it’s not healthy to hide a lot of things because it’s difficult.
“Even if you want to hide, at some point you’re going to have questions to answer.
“I don’t want to play that game, honestly.”
Although speculation over Djokovic’s fitness will continue to fill the vacuum, Nadal was adamant that no player could grit their teeth and win a Grand Slam if properly injured.

“If you really have physical problems, you will not win,” said the 34-year-old.
“If you have some pain and it’s not putting you in a situation that limits you, the movements, maybe you can find a way.
“But when you really, really have an injury, it’s impossible to win a tournament like this.”

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Pegula sets up all-American quarterfinal at Australian Open

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 15, 2021 Jessica Pegula of the U.S. celebrates winning her fourth round match against Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina REUTERS/Kelly Defina
MELBOURNE – Jessica Pegula continued her dream run at the Australian Open on Monday with a 6-4 3-6 6-3 win over fifth seed Elina Svitolina to set up an all-American quarterfinal against Jennifer Brady, who beat Croatia’s Donna Vekic in straight sets.
Pegula struggled badly in the second set at Rod Laver Arena but regrouped in the decider, breaking former Wimbledon and U.S. Open semifinalist Svitolina in the fourth game before locking down her first win over a top 10 opponent.
Matching Svitolina’s power off the baseline, Pegula rushed the net to knock her opponent off her stride and sealed the win on the first match point when the Ukrainian netted a return.
Pegula, who considered giving up tennis after being sidelined for long spells due to knee and hip injuries earlier in her career, will play her good friend Brady for a place in the semis after the 25-year-old beat Vekic 6-1 7-5.
“Jen is an awesome person,” Pegula told a news conference. “She was texting me, ‘I’m so happy, I’m so proud. This is awesome’.
“We’ve all been pushing each other. Why not push each other into a quarter-final, then one of us be in the semis?”
Vekic was hampered by an injury to her right leg and took a medical timeout at the start of the second set after being blitzed by Brady in the opener.
She emerged with fresh strapping above and below her knee and though she managed to take the fight to Brady in the second set the Croatian was barely moving in the final two games.
With the score tied at 5-5 Vekic surrendered her serve to love, a double fault handing Brady the chance to serve for the match.
The American made no mistake, sealing victory when her opponent fluffed a forehand.

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