Day 8 – Australian Open. Quite simply Hyeon Chung!

Two days ago, part of my blog title read ‘Chung is the man’…he is ‘The Don’ for at least the next two now. After outplaying Nole for three consecutive sets of tennis with great hustle, big backhands and forehands (the weak link), he calmly clenched his fist and walked to the net as if he had just disposed of me in straights. I think it tells us a lot about this lads ambition and desire! It is not that he is frightened to fist pump or give it a “come oooooooon” as today also showed. I think the match point was a taste of the temperament and steel he has! Several times in the second and third sets Djokovic pegged him back on serve but he was not to be denied! Djokovic now says he will reassess the elbow injury which flared up at the end of the first set but was full of praise for Chung. It was hard not to be after the 7/6 7/5 7/6 win.

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Tennys Sandgren has caused another upset by defeating Dominic Thiem in five. The American was just too solid for Thiem in most departments. When The Dominator saved a match point in the fourth set tie-break, by ripping a single-handed backhand down the line you thought he might just find a way through. He won the next two points to take it to a decider but Sandgren was having none of it! Chung next. Solid!

The Fed-Express cruised past Marton Fucsovucs without ever really breaking a sweat. He will face stiffer opposition in the next round after Tomas Berdych dealt with Fabio Fognini 6/1 6/4 6/4. The pair will square off for the 26th time in their careers in the quarter-finals. Fed has won the last 8 (19-6 lifetime). The experts think it’s as well as Berdych has played for years but the same experts say he always comes up short in these encounters! Can he catch ‘The Fed-Express’ cold early on? It has been very leisurely for Roger so far and this will be a step up!

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The favourites had an easier time in the ladies by and large. Angie Kerber dug deep to get past Su-Wei Hsieh 4/6 7/5 6/2. This sounded like it was a bit touch and go for Kerber, for two sets. This says as much about how well Su-Wei has been playing and Angie’s ability to find a way to win as opposed to Angie having a stinker though! It is easy to forget that the German is on a 13 match singles winning streak, stemming back to the Hopman Cup. Undefeated this year! On a final note, I saw that Hsieh actually refers to her game as ‘The Su-Wei style’. Brilliant and a great week for her.

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She will face Madison Keys in the last 8 after the American scuppered one of my bets in Caroline Garcia 6/3 6/2. Following the form going into this told you all you needed to know. Keys is serving very well and Caro hasn’t been at the level she needs to me. So it proved today. She is going untalked about in the circles I have been keeping. What is interesting is that Keys says after missing the event last year with an injury, she now feels relaxed, with no pressure.

Simona Halep aided in Naomi Osaka’s capitulation by playing clever tennis, with plenty of variations of speed and spin. We have seen it before when players can’t continually replicate their performances from previous rounds but time is still on Osaka’s side. It needed to be spot on today against Halep but it just wasn’t. Simona is still making noises about the ankle but also says that she has got used to it now! The fact she is still here says its manageable, I am still not sure it will last another three matches though.

Karolina Pliskova should test that, as she found a way to come back from a set down against compatriot Barbora Zahlavova Strycova. This looked like it was going to get very interesting today until Pliskova found both her service and her return games. As she says these courts suit her and she thinks she will cause Halep problems. She should do that, but beat her? Let’s see!

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Andy Del Potro

 

 

 

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