At the start of this week, I would have signed on the dotted lines for Evo to make the fourth round, so there aren’t too many complaints from me. When you think that I don’t take his defeats lightly it must be ok. Evans showed a lot of fighting qualities to get to that point where he played Medvedev and there are a lot more positives to take from the week than there are negatives. Medvedev was too good yesterday in his 6/3 6/4 6/3 victory and ten games conceded is the toughest match he has had this week. In his interview after Evo said “Difficult match. In sport there is levels and he was different level to me today. I mean, he is hitting the ball pretty big, close to the lines, great serve. The serve is the thing to me that is underrated”. The Russian is simply relentless and I genuinely believe that this is the worst match Evans could have had and I am including Djokovic in that statement, he would actually have had more joy there, especially with Nole showing a few nerves. It is time for a rest now and then he will move onto to play San Diego, Indian Wells and then a big focus will be on the Davis Cup. Onwards and upwards and a new career-high awaits. Medvedev will play the qualifier Botic Van de Zandschulp in what is becoming a fairy tale for the Dutchman. He has taken out Diego Schwartzman in five sets having finally flanked the form by winning the first set (he had not done all week, including qualies). Van De Zandschulp led by two sets here before nerves kicked in and ‘El Peque’ took sets three and four, but he mentally pulled himself together by winning the decider 6/1. Some effort, especially when you consider who his opponent was.
In the third quarter, Carlos Alcaraz has continued his run after and yo-yo match with Peter Gojowczyk. The Spaniard should have won the first set but found himself a set down and then two sets to one down. Gojowczyk ran out of steam from there and Alcaraz finished strongly to take the last two sets 6/2 6/0. Although I knew that he was a rising star, I wasn’t overly convinced when Cam Norrie was beaten in straights at the start of the week but he is still going strong, so apologises Nozzer. Next is Felix Auger-Aliassime, who dropped his opening service game and the set as a result against Frances Tiafoe but from there on in he didn’t look back, with his serve in particular impressing. It is now back to back quarter-finals in the majors for FAA and he is currently around 1/2 (1.5) to beat Alcaraz and make his first semi-final at a slam.
Although I had backed Angie Kerber to win the event I think it was fair to acknowledge the fact that she didn’t really do too much wrong against Leylah Fernandez, the trouble was it was all on the Canadians racket. She could have won each of the three sets here. Kerber kept her level throughout but when Fernandez was on she worked the angles and blitzed winner after winner. It was very impressive. The handshake at the end spoke volumes and as Kerber crossed the net to greet her opponent you could see she thought she had been beaten by the better player. Some reports I have read suggested Angie was a bit too safe and just happy to put the ball back in court but personally I think that is harsh. Fernandez is playing with freedom and a smile, spurred on by her father Jorge, who is very, very pumped during these matches. Not only this performance but backing up beating Naomi Osaka is something you cannot take lightly. How many young players take a huge scalp and then do not back it up in the next round? Another great example of where Canadian tennis is right now. She will face Elina Svitolina for a place in the last four, the Ukrainian seems to be in the form of her life at the moment as she beat Simona Halep 6/3 6/3. She is pleased with how aggressive she has been, much more so than normal and she is priced at 4/9 (1.45) to beat the Canadian right now. It will be a good test to see how much Svitolina has progressed at the business end.
In the fourth quarter, Aryna Sabalenka is also looking the real deal, she is even managing to find a bit of patience during rallies. It was a comfortable 6/4 6/1 win over her former doubles partner, Elise Mertens and she has now won the last five matches against her. This looks like a good matchup for Sabalenka as you do not feel Mertens can really hurt her in any way. It is why Mertens is generally very consistent as she beats who she should beat and doesn’t often cause an upset in matches like this. Barbora Krejcikova awaits next after her straight-sets win over Garbine Muguruza. There does sound like there was a bit of drama here with Krejcikova leading by a set and 4-1, she started having difficulty breathing. Muguruza turned the set around and had set points before Krejcikova took a ten-minute medical timeout, breaking the Spaniard’s momentum. The Czech then came out firing, holding to love and winning the tiebreak. Krejcikova said she still wasn’t feeling great after and what i deduced from her comments was that this could have occurred as it was her first match on the Ashe and it all got a bit much for her. That isn’t necessarily how it is but that is my personal opinion after reading her comments.
Al Davies (Andy Del Potro).