Phew, close call! Day 8 – Australian Open 2019.

I really thought Rena was going to go during that today. It felt like she was a break down in the decider even though it was on serve. The match had started off too well, she was running all over Halep and the serve was getting the treatment. Return after return was being absolutely crushed as Williams took the first set 6/1, she even got an early break at the start of the second. From hugging the baseline Serena was pushed back by the Romanian though and before you knew it we were in a scrap. A scrap that went the distance and we were losing on points in the third. So, Rena, as she always does, dug deep and raised the intensity. The serve and the groundstrokes went up a notch and if she really needed to, she won the longer exchanges. It is a phenomenal effort from her today, in a match of really high quality, fair play to Simona as well, she had me worried. Time to rest up for Wednesday.

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It will be Karolina Pliskova in the quarter’s as she improved her fantastic head-to-head over Garbine Muguruza to 8-2. This was never a contest, with Pliskova winning 6/3 6/1 and playing some top tennis. This could be an absolute cracker against Serena next as both players are playing well. Pliskova won 71% of Muguruza’s second serves, impressive.

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Naomi Osaka once again had to solve a problem, this time of beating Anastasija Sevastova. As she did in her last round she came from a set down to prevail. This was a nice match on the eye with some good tennis being played with a totally different contrast of styles. Osaka’s patience to wait for the right ball got her through this one, an area she has certainly worked on.

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Elina Svitolina will play Osaka after she beat Madison Keys in a topsy turvy three-setter. It didn’t sound like either player played well at the same time in this one. The 6/2 1/6 6/1 scoreline would be reasonable proof of that. Svitolina has been making it a priority to find herself in some awkward spots the last few rounds and this was no different. She won a 16-minute game at the start of the third and that broke the American’s heart.

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It was a superb effort from Milos Raonic to oust Sascha Zverev like that. At the same time, how poor was Zverev? He even broke at the start of the match to lead 1-0 before going down 6/1 6/1 7/6. So he held serve once in the first two sets. Raonic is in no mood to mess about and has been enjoyable to watch here, despite what some might say. Very clinical, very impressed. Lendl will have to take Sascha back to the drawing board after this, there are some questions to be answered. It was a much improved third set from the German, but it was too little too late by then.

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Lucas Pouille played really well in beating one of my tips for the quarter, Borna Coric. It has not been a great tournament from that aspect for me. It is good to see Pouille back and winning matches at this level though. I have always liked the Frenchman. He rallied from a set down here to win in four sets. Having been a bit sloppy at first, he ironed out the problems to outplay Coric.

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Djokovic continues to plod along, this time with a four-set win over Daniil Medvedev. The Russian liked his chances here and played well, pushing the top seed in a gruelling encounter. The Serb found that extra little bit of quality to step it up in the third though. It has not been sensational from Nole so far and Rafa has impressed more, but make no mistake, if he makes the final, I am sure the bar will rise.

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Kei Nishikori will once again play Nole in a slam. This after a five-hour win over Pablo Carreno Busta. The Spaniard had led by two sets to love and a break before losing in a  final set breaker (which he led 8-5 and lost 10-8 after a dispute with the Umpire). Well worth watching watch happened after here, Carreno Busta has totally lost it, very uncharacteristic. I shouldn’t, but I laughed when he threw his bag after. I do feel for him though. Kei has now played one hell of a lot of tennis here but not the most as I discovered. Bautista has pipped him by 16 minutes.

Men’s Quarter-Finals, Time on Court: Bautista-Agut – 14 hrs 3 mins; Nishikori – 13 hrs 47 mins; Tsitsipas – 12 hrs 14 mins; Pouille – 12 hrs 5 mins; Tiafoe – 11 hrs 47 mins; Raonic – 9 hrs 57 mins; Djokovic – 9 hrs 44 mins; Nadal – 8 hrs 38 mins (tennisform.com).

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Andy Del Potro

 

 

 

 

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