With all that has gone before us, I am naturally very disappointed in the outcome of Evo’s match with Felix today, he was quite fancied in the betting markets to win this. I thought the walkover against Arthur Rinderkneck would possibly help him but it clearly didn’t and Evo said as much in his presser after. Evans said “I’m not making excuses but it wasn’t easy to have a walkover and I sort of lost my momentum a little bit” he went on to say, “I thought about the match quite a lot and probably overthought it.” Plus he admitted that “He was obviously way better than me as well.” It fell apart in all honesty and honest is something Evo always is in his assessments, “I panicked on the court. I missed my chance and I panicked a bit, and that happens in tennis.” It certainly isn’t the end of the world and it has been a good start to the season but it would have been nice to have gone a little deeper here. Onwards and upwards though. Auger-Aliassime will play Marin Cilic who played a decent match against fifth-seeded Andrey Rublev. The Croat was two sets and a breakup before Rublev looked like he had worked his way back into it by claiming the third. The hard, flat trajectory of Cilic’s shots is making him a tough obstacle in Melbourne. Cilic currently has a 3-0 head-to-head against FAA.
Taylor Fritz caused a mini upset in beating Roberto Bautista Agut. Naturally, the serve and forehand were dominating for the American and I am pleased to see him go well this week as I liked his chances, he has been knocking on the door of late. It doesn’t get any easier for him as he will face Stefanos Tsitsipas next. Stef beat Benoit Paire in four. Paire was a little slow out of the blocks and by the time his game started to fall into place he was two sets down. It has been a lot of tennis this week for Benoit and he was making noises to this effect after his win over Dimitrov. Daniil Medvedev had little worries in beating Botic Van de Zandschulp. Their US open meeting had got people thinking (including Botic) that he would run him close here but it was a very comprehensive performance in his 6/4 6/4 6/2 victory.
There was also a win today for Alex De Minaur in three over Pablo Andujar. Jannik Sinner took care of Andy Murray’s conqueror, Taro Daniel, in four and Maxime Cressy has made his first fourth round at a slam with a four-set win over Christopher O’Connell.
Iga Swiatek quite literally outfoxed Daria Kasatkina in straights. The match was more competitive than the 6/2 6/3 scoreline suggests but what will please her the most is the fact she won virtually all the big points today. She will face Sorana Cirstea on Monday who beat French Open runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in a decider. I actually think Cirseta seems more tuned in for the slams these days and not so much on a weekly basis and I will be using performances like this to back up my theory. A decent effort here.
There was once again a slow start for Aryna Sabalenka as she lost the opener to Marketa Vondrousova this time. She ended up playing better in the next couple of sets though and got the serve working. Could she be playing herself into form? I have been a little critical the last few rounds so I wouldn’t say I am convinced yet but it’s certainly possible. Simona Halep cruised through again, Danka Kovinic was undone in just over an hour and I think I read Kovinic hit double the amount of unforced errors to winners. Halep hasn’t really played anyone yet but as I always say that isn’t her fault but the draw has certainly opened up even more with Muguruza and Konatveit losing.
Other players to reach the last 16 are Alize Cornet, who came from a set and a break down against a tight and physically struggling Tamara Zidansek. It has been a remarkable thirteen years since Cornet last made the fourth round in Melbourne. Kaia Kanepi dropped the opener against Madison Inglis before finding her game as the Aussie started to struggle with hers and Danielle Collins beat Clara Tauson 7/5 in the decider, having also trailed by a set and a break against the Dane. Elise Mertens does what she does best and beats who she should and that was Shuai Zhang today, 6/2 6/2.
Al Davies (Andy Del Potro).