The quarter-finals action at Melbourne Park proved some players are in their best form heading into the final two matches of the tournament, with Serena Williams asserting her quarter-final win was; “The best match I played this tournament.”
The Inner Sanctum is here with another recap of the 2021 Australian Open, looking at the eight quarter-finals matches in the singles’ draws.
Naomi Osaka returned to her finest on Tuesday afternoon against Su-Wei Hsieh. Taking two breaks in each set and only losing a point off of her first serve twice for the entire match.
The highlight of Hsieh’s performance was her effort at the net, every time she came forward to the net Hsieh walked away with the point.
Osaka cruised to the semi-final, with just Serena Williams standing in her way of a second Australian Open Final appearance.
Despite it being over in two sets, Serena Williams and Simona Halep’s quarter-final was one of the matches of the tournament so far. Each set started with a bang with both Williams and Halep breaking serve in the first three games.
Williams played as though every single point mattered, putting everything into thrilling rallies as she chased down Halep’s returns. Often managing until Halep made an error.
Six out of the nine games in the second set saw Williams and Halep break each other’s serve, however, it was William’s ability to hold her own serve late in the second set that earned her a place in the semi-final.
The first men’s quarter-final was a battle between the remaining dark horses in the tournament. Qualifier Aslan Karatsev taking on 18th seed Grigor Dimitrov in his first quarter-final at his first-ever major.
Dimitrov was all over Karatsev in the first set and an early portion of the second, with the Russian unable to find the right tool to combat Dimitrov’s slice.
Karatsev found a way to break through, winning the longer games, including a 12 minute game in the second set.
However, it was a back injury from Dimitrov that completely shifted the momentum. The Bulgarian began to struggle with his serve in the third set and had to take a medical time out to alleviate some of the pain.
Karatsev took advantage of the opportunity that the injury presented and closed out the match, locking him into a semi-final berth in his maiden Grand Slam. The first men’s singles player to do so in the open era. To ensure this remarkable cinderella run reaches the final, he’ll have to face the world number one Novak Djokovic.
Questions continue to linger over Novak Djokovic’s injury following his four-set victory over Alexander Zverev.
Despite losing the first set in a tiebreak, he was soon ahead by two breaks in the second that Zverev couldn’t come back from.
By the third set he was moving similarly to how he had early on in the tournament, and the only issue that appeared to be looming over him was his attitude.
However, following a racquet smash midway through the third set he managed to refocus and finish off the third set.
Fighting off another early break in the fourth and Zverev holding his serve, Djokovic was forced into another tiebreak, which he managed to take control of late to finish off the match in three and a half hours.
Ash Barty’s home grand slam came to an end in a three-set loss to Karolina Muchova. Pulling out a dominant performance in the first set and going up a break in the second, it looked like Barty would be through to the semi-final in straight sets.
However, Muchova struggling with the heat took advantage of a nine-minute medical time out following the third game in the second set, allowing her to reset.
From there Muchova was all over Barty, managing to hold her to winning just one additional game in the second set. Barty came unstuck with Muchova forcing numerous errors upon the Australian as well as hitting eight of her 17 winners in the third set.
Karolina Muchova appears today in her maiden semi-final against American Jennifer Brady.
Jennifer Brady proved that the experience she gained following her 2020 US Open semi-final appearance was invaluable, not allowing her nerves to get the best of her after she dropped the first set against countrywoman Jessica Pegula.
Momentum seemed to be behind Pegula following the first set, having two break points in hand in the first game of the second set before Brady kicked into gear and forced several errors to take the game away from Pegula. Brady proceeded to take control of the game from that point onwards, winning six games in a row in the final set, not showing any weakness off of the points won on her first serve.
Daniil Medvedev’s run towards his first grand slam title continued with a straight-sets victory over fellow Russian Andrey Rublev.
Rublev was looking dangerous in the first set, managing to break back the game after Medvedev broke his serve, but he couldn’t sustain his strong service game to take Medvedev to a tie break in the first set.
Medvedev won seven games in a row in the second and third sets, facing no threat of being broken in the final two sets, and out serving Rublev and hitting ten additional winners to Rublev’s. Medvedev cruised into the semi-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas, with both semi-finalists now looking to make their first Australian Open final.
Stefano Tsitsipas pulled off one of the most important wins of his career to date against Rafael Nadal to close out the quarter-finals.
Nadal looked like he was going to cruise to the semi-final in straight sets, managing his errors and breaking every time the opportunity presented itself.
It wasn’t until the third set tiebreak that it became apparent that the additional rest Tsitsipas had due to the 4th round walkover was favourable, as the number 5 seed seemingly on fresher legs than Nadal started to find his groove.
Despite hitting fewer winners, Tsitsipas took advantage of Nadal’s errors off of his forehand and served seven aces in the fifth set. Nadal didn’t lose without a fight looking to break Tsitsipas’ serve in the final game of the match but couldn’t get find a way through, with the Greek prevailing in a four-hour epic on Rod Laver Arena.