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HURKACZ, MEDVEDEV, NOSKOVA, YASTREMSKA INTO THE AO QUARTERS



Connor Joyce, Christian Montegan, Todd Scoullar


On John Cain Arena, serving dominance from Hubert Hurkacz saw him move into the Australian Open quarterfinals for the first time.

 

The world number nine won 49/54 points behind his first serve for the match, facing just one break point against French wildcard Arthur Cazaux.

 

After two tiebreak sets, Hurkacz found a break in the third and served his way into the last eight for just the second time at a major, after reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 2021.

 

“[I’m] definitely really happy with my performance today. Making it to the quarterfinals, it's nice, but obviously we're hungry for more,” Hurkacz told the media.

 

“[I’m] proud of my performance and the team’s performance today and am looking forward to next one.”

 

Hurkacz will face Daniil Medvedev in the quarterfinals and is prepared for a battle against the Russian over whom he holds a 3-2 head-to-head record.

 

Daniil has been amazing competitor for so many years. He's been at the top. He was No. 1 in the world,” the Pole said.

 

I'm going to give my best. He's going to give his best. It's an interesting matchup.”

 

Medvedev ended the Portuguese fairytale of Nuno Borges this afternoon on Rod Laver Arena to reach his third Australian Open quarterfinal.

 

Borges, 26, arrived in good form having not dropped a set in the first two rounds before coming back from a set down in the third round against an impressive Grigor Dimitrov. 

 

A two-time Australian Open finalist, it was clear from the outset who was the more experienced player, as Medvedev quickly took the racquet out of Borges’ hand to take the first two sets without relative trouble. 

 

The former US Open champion was poised to wrap up the match up 5-2 in the third, but Borges reduced his unforced errors to remarkably win five consecutive games and ensure the fans would watch more tennis unfold. 

 

Medvedev didn’t make the same mistake in the fourth to comfortably seal his passage through to the quarter-finals in a 6-3, 7-6(4), 5-7, 6-1 win where he will face Hubert Hurkacz [9] on Wednesday. 

 

In the post-match press conference, the 27-year-old commented on Hurkacz’s weaponry serve which always makes him a danger in Grand Slams.

 

I think with his serve, always. Also he can play good on every surface,” Medvedev said.

 

His serve is so good, he can go to the tiebreak all the time. Then, of course, we try to break him. Sometimes he loses when we break him.”

 

Dayana Yastremska has moved into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open for the first time, with victory over former world number 1, Victoria Azarenka.


Yastremska was playing her 7th match of the event, after fighting through qualifying to book her place in the main draw. And coming into the match, it was Yastremska who had probably looked the more impressive in her opening matches, downing 3 top 40 players, including a demolition of 7th seed Marketa Vondrousova. Azarenka meanwhile, had spent 2 extra hours on court during the week, with two of her matches going to a deciding set.


Early in the first set, it was Yastremska who had the match on her terms, taking the first break of serve, to go up 3-1. Azarenka was struggling to get enough balls in play, hitting just 1 winner to 7 unforced errors in the opening 4 games.


However, a loose game from Yastremska, and a stunning backhand return winner from Azarenka, restored parity to the set.


From there, the two women would trade breaks of serve, with Victoria having the chance at 5-4, to serve out the set. But Azarenka’s first serve would let her down horribly, hitting just 8/25 up to this point in the match. Yastremska is too good a player to not take advantage of that, and broke to love, levelling the match at 5-5.


Yet again though, the break couldn’t be consolidated, and a couple of big forehand winners from Azarenka, gave her a second chance to serve out the first set.


Rinse and repeat. In a match that showcased some quality ball striking from the baseline, holding serve seemed nigh on impossible at times, and it was only fitting a tie-break would be called upon to break the deadlock.


The tie-break was simply an extension of the opening 12 games. While Azarenka’s first serve improved, in the end, the difference was Yasremska’s willingness to pull the trigger more often, and two forehand winners at 6-all, pocketed her the opening set 7-6, after 75 minutes.

Set two was more of the same.


While Azarenka was able to arrest her first serve percentage to some extent, holding serve was still a battle for both early on. The frustration was evident at the end of the 5th game, as she smashed a ball into the stands, after Yastremska retrieved the break that Azarenka had earned just one game earlier.


Yastremska continued to be the player pushing the envelope, and it always felt the match would be decided by her. From 1-3 down, the Ukrainian reeled off the next 4 games, thanks to her power hitting, and Azarenka’s serving woes, dishing up 2 double faults in the 7th game.


After the match the former world number 21 admitted that there were times she felt she had already lost.


“I thought about that I lost this match, like, 25 times, you know. Sometimes you get these kind of thoughts, like I was winning in the beginning, like, 3-1, and I went for my serve, I lost it, then I was losing 5-3 and she had a set point. So I felt like in maybe before 5-4, I accepted that I lost it already, you know, and that helped me to continue to play. Like, I felt like I have another chance, you know, to win.”


Yastremska also has the ability to advance the net, and on the times she did venture forward, success was almost guaranteed, winning 12 out of 13 points.


Eventually, despite her first serve percentage ending up almost exactly where Azarenka’s was (56% to 55%), it was the fearlessness of her play that was the difference. Her 38 winners to Azarenka’s 16, was telling.


“I played pretty aggressive, I think. In some moments I felt like I was too nervous and too emotional, but then I just relaxed and I said, like, it's going to be like it's going to be. Just try to play each ball. That's it.”


For Azarenka, the disappointment was obvious after the match:


“I feel like just overall today, like balls were a bit off timing-wise. Serves were really low percentage of first serve today. Tried to kind of get into the game, tried to get the energy up, and didn't work today.


So, yeah, definitely very disappointing to not be able to convert some of the opportunities to hopefully get the ball rolling a little bit better, but it happens. It's disappointing that it happened in the fourth round of a Grand Slam, but I need to definitely look at it and see what I can do better and move on. It's as simple as that.”


Yastremska will face Czech teen Linda Noskova in the quarter finals.


The match up between Noskova, and Ukrainian, Elina Svitolina on Margaret Court Arena never eventuated, with Elina retiring at 0-3 in the first set.


In the press conference after the match, Svitolina was clearly emotional, and fighting back the tears, “Yeah, I got a spasm, or I don't know exactly what it is, but like shooting pain in the first game, the last two points. Yeah, couldn't do anything. Completely locked my back. Just very sad, of course, so yeah.”


When asked whether she thinks it’s a more serious injury, the Ukrainian is trying to stay positive:


“Yeah, hopefully it's short-term. I don't know. Maybe a spasm or something. But, yeah, hopefully I will be back training maybe in one week. Of course, long flight I had. That's not going to help. In a way I will have to take one day at a time, have to do my recovery, do the scan as soon as I get back home, and go from there. Hopefully I don't have something serious.”


For Linda Noskova, she finds herself into the quarter-finals, without raising a sweat.

“I was physically and mentally prepared for a match, so obviously a little sad it had to end this way, but I hope Elina gets well really soon.”


“I don't really know the way she plays, but I think she's more of, like, an aggressive tennis player. So I guess we won't have a lot of rallies, but I think that I will just have to be prepared for anything, because I don't really know her style. We'll see what happens.”

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