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ALCARAZ AND ZHENG DOMINATE TO REACH THE AO LAST EIGHT



Roddy Reynolds & Sean A'Hearn


A day after top seed Novak Djokovic hit his straps in this Australian Open in dispatching Adrian Mannarino, Carlos Alcaraz reminded the world he’s not to be ignored in a near-perfect display against Djokovic’s compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic.


The Spanish bull raged from start to finish in a clinical 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 win wherein Alcaraz got better as the match evolved.


Breaking the Serbian in the fourth game of the match, Alcaraz both covered every corner of the court and demanded Kecmanovic play his excellent best just to hang on. 


After taking the first set Alcaraz, the early stages of the second set were dominated by the server with neither player able to generate a break point opportunity in the first six games. 

Buoyed by an adoring Rod Laver Arena crowd, Alcaraz showcased his flexibility and trademark intensity on return breaking the Serbian to 15 to take a stranglehold on the match in the crucial seventh game.


From there, Alcaraz stepped up his level to one Kecmanovic, who needed five sets to beat 2023 semi-finalist Tommy Paul in the round prior, could not match steamrolling the world number 60 with the loss of just one game thereafter.


Earlier, German Alexander Zverev has outlasted a noble Cam Norrie at Margaret Court Arena in a thrilling albeit tense five-set battle, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (10-3).


In a sometimes-nervy contest that lasted just over 4 hours, there were some moments of brilliance and moments of tension in equal measure.


“Hopefully it’s gonna be my time in the quarter-finals,” said a notably relieved Sasha Zverev in his post-match interview.


The big German’s forehand was errant at times, but he did enough to take charge of the match, despite Norrie showing his trademark fighting qualities.


Coming back from two sets to one down and a break in the decider, Norrie will take plenty of positives, and he did it by adopting a newfound brave, attacking style.


In a bizarre interruption midway through the third set, play was halted when a protestor threw handfuls of leaflets bearing the phrase "Free Palestine" onto the court.


As the culprit was escorted out by fans and security alike, both players had a chance to gather their thoughts while the court was being cleaned.


With Norrie’s forehand going a little wayward in the fifth set, the Brit started incorporating drop shots with mixed success.


Both players tightened up in the decider, barely managing to hold serve which ultimately culminated in a one-sided super tie-break as Norrie ran out of steam.


Zverev is now 5-0 on tie breaks this tournament, playing this one superbly, with attacking, precise shot-making.


Earlier in the day, in a much more one-sided affair, Russian, Anna Kalinskaya outmuscled Italian 26th seed, Jasmine Paolini to book her spot in the quarter-finals.


The pair traded breaks in the first set, before Kalinskaya started to hit her straps, with relentlessly aggressive groundstrokes from the baseline.


The Russian continued this momentum into the second set and never looked back, winning 6-4, 6-2.


She will next face Chinese 12th seed Qinwen Zheng in the quarter-finals who comfortably defeated French revelation Oceane Dodin 6-0, 6-3 in the second evening match Rod Laver Arena in a contest that was over before it began as Zheng won 26 points to 11 in a one-sided opening set.

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