Rena and Naomi were both extended. Osaka more so but both answered the questions that were thrown at them without being at their best. Muguruza bought the form that she has been showing and even had two match points in the third set, in what was a match of high quality. When the chips are down Naomi will not miss and still manages to fire some unbelievable winners. I wouldn’t say Muguruza blew up from match points at 5/3 and 15/40 on the Osaka serve, she just couldn’t quite match the level from there on in! It is incredible how strong she is in these situations. It reminds me of Serena, I know it has been said countless times but it is one of the biggest compliments you can give! Talking of which Rena was pretty strong off the ground against Aryna Sabalenka. There were a few edgy moments, like when the Belarussian broke back in the decider and we were at 4/4. I just always felt in a match like this, Serena will execute better than her opponent, Osaka aside, right now. You just feel that mentally and physically she has a bit more than Sabalenka right now too.
Osaka will play Su-Wei Hsieh in the quarter-finals, she ousted an injury-hampered Marketa Vondrousova, who was struggling with a groin issue. I did love Su-Wei’s quote about her match with Naomi, “She’s probably going to smash me on the court. I’ll try to play my game, do my job, see what happens.” Love it. A good way to take the pressure of yourself I suppose. Simona Halep just about got past Iga Swiatek, to set up another clash with Serena. Halep gained revenge for her loss at the French Open. I have to say you feel this was probably on the Pole’s racket as I suspected though. The Romanian is a tough nut to crack and Swiatek was just a little too up and down when it came to it.
Nole got through despite the injury worries against Milos Raonic. I think we will get to see the full extent of the injury in the next round against Alexander Zverev. An opponent who will make him move a lot more than the Canadian, where it was much more a case of knowing what would come his way. Zverev will be happy to stay in the points longer and be more patient, that isn’t the Raonic way. Overall a good win for Novak though, who still won’t talk his chances up and I don’t blame him. Some people think this is a fabrication from Nole. That is bollox, there is no way this is all a smokescreen, simple! This was competitive for sure but a test that Nole passed. Dusan Lajovic supposedly gave a really good account of himself against Zverev. The Germans big serve being the match-winner as he got through nicely in three tight sets. A good week from Lajovic, he has surprised a few including myself with the results he has got in these fast conditions.
The Nick Kyrgios match clearly took too much out of Dominic Thiem, from an early break-up today he fell away pretty quickly. I would never have predicted a Dimitrov bagel, 6/4 6/4 6/0 is a heavy defeat for the US Open Champion. He was always going to struggle with the speed of these courts, even though he says he has got used to it. The physical aspect certainly played a big part today having said that. The Bulgarian plays Aslan Karatsev in the last eight. Karatsev came from two sets down against Felix Auger Aliassime. This is some effort from the lad this week and its about time I watched him in Melbourne, the crosscourt forehand has been explosive from reports and ultimately, the match-winner.
Andy Del Potro