Rod Laver Arena | 11 p.m. TuesdayAndrey Rublev vs. Daniil MedvedevAndrey Rubley and Daniil Medvedev secured the ATP Cup for Russia earlier this month, with neither player losing a singles match throughout. In their three meetings on the ATP Tour, Medvedev has come out on top each time, including in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open in September.This may be Rublev’s chance to finally overcome his friendly rival. He has looked particularly dominant, not dropping a set throughout the tournament. His match against Casper Ruud ended after only two sets when the Norwegian withdrew with an injury. Going into the quarterfinals, Rublev has led the field in both percentage of first service points won and second service points won, a sign of how hard it has been for opponents to break his serve.Medvedev has also been playing well, aside from a chaotic, disorganized third round match against Filip Krajinovic. He has now won 18 matches in a row, with his last loss coming in October at a tournament in Vienna. Although the fast surface fits Medvedev’s flat baseline shots, Rublev’s open stance is well suited in defense, and we’re sure to see many dynamic, aggressive point.Rod Laver Arena | 3:30 a.m. WednesdayRafael Nadal vs. Stefanos TsitsipasRafael Nadal, the No. 2 seed, has moved smoothly through the first four rounds, no surprise for a player with 20 Grand Slam titles. Although Nadal won his only Australian Open title over a decade ago, he has reached the finals on four other occasions since, and is a clear favorite in his half of the draw to do so again. Nadal’s powerful topspin shots are well-suited to clay courts where he can drag opponents around with tightly angled shots. Nadal’s ability to exploit his opponent’s weaknesses with relentless pressure can break most players on their best days.Stefanos Tsitsipas, the ATP finals winner in 2019, is a study in unpredictability. The fifth seed has a capable all-court game, but lacks the consistency to execute match after match. The 22-year-old has worked to improve this aspect of his game, but needed five sets to push back unseeded Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round. After receiving a walkover in the round of 16, Tsitsipas will be well rested and hoping for an advantage against one of the most mentally tough players on tour.
At 23, Rublev is two years younger than Medvedev and grew up playing junior tournaments against him in Russia. For a long time Rublev, seeded No. 8, and Karen Khachanov, 24, the third member of Russia’s latest golden generation, were better than Medvedev. The rise for Medvedev came in 2018 and 2019, when he nearly beat Rafael Nadal in the 2019 United States Open final.“He reads the game really well,” Rublev said of Medvedev. “It’s amazing, the patience he has to stay so long in the rallies, to not rush, to take the time, because in the end these little details, they make him who he is.”Russia is the only country with two players in the top 10. Khachanov gives it three in the top 20. Aslan Karatsev, 27, another Russian ranked No. 114, came out of nowhere to make the quarterfinals here in his first Grand Slam tournament.Medvedev comes into the quarterfinal on perhaps the best roll of his career. He has won 18 consecutive singles matches. He won the ATP Tour finals in London in November, pulling off the nifty trick of beating the world’s top three players — Novak Djokovic, Nadal and Dominic Thiem — in a single tournament. For Russia at the ATP Cup, he beat Alexander Zverev of Germany, a 2020 U.S. Open finalist, in a tight, three-set match in the semifinal round.Medvedev spent his early childhood in Moscow and played few sports other than tennis growing up. He worshiped Russia’s last golden generation, which included Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who were in their prime when he was a young child. He moved to France to train as a teenager and became fluent in English and French.Medvedev could be heard screaming at his coach, Gilles Cervara of France, in French during his third-round match against Filip Krajinovic of Serbia, as he frittered away a two-set lead before recovering to win the final set, 6-0.
MELBOURNE, Australia — He is the mystery man who few in the sport had heard of just days ago. But Aslan Karatsev of Russia has landed in the semifinals of the Australian Open.In one of the most unlikely runs in the history of modern tennis, Karatsev on Tuesday became one of the few players to make the final four of a Grand Slam after surviving the qualifying tournament when he beat an ailing Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria in four sets 2-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.Karatsev, 27, who was born in Russia, moved to Israel as a child, then returned to Russia as a teenager to pursue better tennis training, according to The Times of Israel. He had been playing in the tennis hinterlands for several years with little success. He had never qualified for a Grand Slam before this tournament. He won three straight matches at the Australian Open qualifying event in Doha to win a spot in the main event and came in ranked No. 114 in the world. He has never been ranked higher than No. 111.Dimitrov appeared to have the match under control after the first set but suffered what looked to be back spasms in the third set and appeared to be on the edge of retiring for the rest of the match.Just four other players have made the semifinals of a Grand Slam after getting through the qualifying event.Ahead of the Australian Open, he played doubles for Team Russia in the ATP Cup, a team event in which players represent their countries. Russia won the competition, but not because of Karatsev, who lost all three matches in which he played with two different partners.His teammates noticed that he was playing as well as they had ever seen, and yet none of them would have predicted anything like this.“We felt like he could do something amazing,” Daniil Medvedev, Russia’s top player and the No. 4 seed in the Australian Open. “To be honest, being in your first Grand Slam main draw? Making quarters is something exceptional. He’s not over yet.”He certainly is not.Karatsev will take on the winner of the match between Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev, which is scheduled for Tuesday night.
เมลเบิร์นออสเตรเลีย – สนามเทนนิสกลายเป็นกระจกของบ้านที่สนุกสนานเมื่อผู้เล่นข้ามตาข่ายคือเซี่ยซู – เหว่ยราชินีแห่งการยิงที่มีการหมุนผิดวิธีมุมที่ชาญฉลาดและการยิงสองมือทั้งสองข้างสามารถทำให้เธอฟ้าร้องได้ คู่ต่อสู้นาโอมิโอซาก้าแชมป์ 3 สมัยหมวกกันน็อกถอนหายใจดัง ๆ เมื่อวันอาทิตย์เมื่อเธอได้รับแจ้งว่ารางวัลของเธอจากการทำคะแนนการแข่งขันสองแต้มกับการ์บีนมูกูรูซ่าคือการพบกับสีซึ่งกำหนดตำแหน่งของเธอในรอบก่อนรองชนะเลิศในขณะที่โอซาก้าพยายามแก้ปัญหาของมูคุรุซา . “เธอเป็นหนึ่งในผู้เล่นที่สำหรับฉันถ้าเป็นวิดีโอเกมฉันจะเลือกตัวละครของเธอเพียงเพื่อเล่นเธอ” โอซาก้าแชมป์ปี 2019 กล่าว “เพราะใจของฉันไม่สามารถหยั่งรู้ถึงทางเลือกที่เธอเลือกเมื่อเธออยู่ในศาล” โอซาก้าวัย 23 ปีกล่าวเสริมว่า“ มันไม่ใช่เรื่องสนุกที่จะเล่นกับเธอ แต่มันสนุกมากที่ได้ดู” Sie อายุ 35 ปีเป็นคู่ผสมที่เธอและคู่หูของเธอ Barbora Stritsova มาถึงเมลเบิร์นพาร์คในฐานะเมล็ดพันธุ์ที่ดีที่สุดและออกมาในรอบที่สอง แชมป์แกรนด์สแลมสามสมัยในประเภทคู่ Ssi ไม่เคยผ่านเข้ารอบก่อนรองชนะเลิศในประเภทเดี่ยวใน 37 ครั้งก่อนหน้านี้ในรายการเดี่ยวแกรนด์สแลม “เธอคงจะตีฉันที่ศาล” สีกล่าวอย่างร่าเริง “ฉันกำลังพยายามเล่นเกมทำงานของฉันดูว่าจะเกิดอะไรขึ้น” กังไสมีใบหน้าที่มีความสุขสงบ แต่เบื้องหลังรอยยิ้มนั้นซ่อนคู่แข่งเหล็กไว้ เธอเล่นในโอซาก้า 5 ครั้งและสี่นัดผ่านไปสามเซตรวมถึงชัยชนะของซิงเกิ้ลของ Xi ในรอบที่สามที่ไมอามีในปี 2019 เมื่อโอซาก้าเป็นฟุตบอลโลกครั้งแรก ถามว่าอะไรทำให้เกมของ Sisa ท้าทายมากโอซาก้าบอกว่า “คุณดูเธอเล่นไหม” เธอหัวเราะ “มันเหมือน” อะไร? “ ฉันรู้ว่าสำหรับฉันเมื่อฉันเล่นเพื่อเธอฉันก็ต้องรอทุกอย่าง” การประลองระหว่าง Xie จากไต้หวันและโอซาก้าจากญี่ปุ่นเป็นการศึกษาที่ต่อต้านโอซาก้ากำหนดก้าวและ Ssi เปลี่ยนเส้นทางโอซาก้าเป็นแม่เหล็กทางการตลาด ที่ Louis Vuitton, Tag Heuer และ Workday เพิ่มเข้ามาในพอร์ตโฟลิโอของพวกเขาก่อนการแข่งขัน Australian Open Hsie ไม่มีสปอนเซอร์ส่วนหนึ่งมาจากการออกแบบ “ฉันอยากจะเรียบง่าย” สีกล่าวซึ่งโหมดทัวร์นาเมนต์ช้อปปิ้งด้วยเสื้อผ้าเทนนิสลดราคาถูกเปลี่ยน ในการปิดล้อมทั่วประเทศที่เปิดตัวเมื่อสัปดาห์ที่แล้วในฐานะที่เป็นตัวเป็นตนโดยโอซาก้าการแสดงพลังในแฟชั่น แต่สไตล์ที่ละเอียดอ่อนกว่าของ Sie จะไม่มีวันล้าสมัยเธอเป็นศิลปินที่เปลี่ยนการประชุมให้กลายเป็นหัวที่มีวิสัยทัศน์แปลกตาซึ่งทำให้ศาล ” ฉันคิดว่าเธอมีมือที่น่าทึ่งและดวงตาที่น่าทึ่ง “เซเรนาวิลเลียมส์โค้ชแพทริคมูราโตกลูกล่าว” เธอเห็นบอลเร็วมากเธอเห็นเยอะและให้ ” นั่นเป็นเหตุผลว่าทำไมเธอถึงมีเงินออม “เขากล่าวเสริม” และทำไมมันถึงยากสำหรับเธอที่จะเล่น ” ในช่วงสามสัปดาห์ที่ผ่านมางานที่ยุ่งยากในการฝึกฝน Xie ที่มีไหวพริบสำหรับการแข่งขันของเขาตกเป็นของ Andrew Whittington ซึ่งเข้าถึงรอบรองชนะเลิศชายคู่ในรายการ Australian Open ในปี 2017 และทำลายสถิติ 200 อันดับแรกในประเภทเดี่ยว ในวันจันทร์ที่ 17 ของศาลในขณะที่ปกป้องรางรถรางอย่างแน่นหนาในเขตชานเมืองด้านตะวันออกของ Whittington เขาใช้เวลาประมาณหนึ่งชั่วโมงในการให้อาหาร C บริการแบบแข็งและแบนซึ่งเป็นลายเซ็นของโอซาก้า C โค้ช Paul McNami สั่งให้ Whittington ระงับ หลังจากที่ Xi ล้มเหลวในการจับไม้ของเขาบนลูกบอลไปที่แบ็คแฮนด์ McNami เข้าหา Xi และบอกว่าเขาจะเห็นการเสิร์ฟจากโอซาก้า Xi Xi พยักหน้าอย่างเคร่งขรึม วินาทีต่อมาเธอยกลูกบอลขึ้นจากสนามด้วยไม้แร็กเกตหันหลังให้ตาข่ายและฟาดรุ้งวิททิงตันที่ล้มเหลวซึ่งทำได้แค่หัวเราะ McNamee อธิบายว่า Ssi เป็นจิตวิญญาณอิสระและกล่าวว่า “ฉันไม่ต้องการต่อสู้กับวิญญาณนั้น” คุณต้องปล่อยให้เขาลุกขึ้นและไป “หัวเราะแมคนามิกล่าวเสริม” ฉันได้เรียนรู้มากมายเกี่ยวกับความสุขของความเงียบขณะทำงานกับ Su-Wei “พร้อมสำหรับคำถามเหล่านี้มากกว่าคำถามที่เธอถามเขา สิ้นสุดการออกกำลังกาย “การส่งของฉันช้ามากเหรอ” เธอกล่าวมันเป็นโอกาสที่หายากมากเมื่อเธอไม่ได้ล้อเล่นเช่นเดียวกับนักกีฬาคนอื่น ๆ ที่อยู่ในอาการสั่นของเธอมันเฉียบคมในการแข่งขันในทัวร์นาเมนต์นี้ Hsie ใส่ใน 71 เปอร์เซ็นต์ของโอกาสแรกของเธอ “วิททิงตันนำไม้เทนนิสเข้ามาในเซสชั่นการตีมากกว่ากังไสที่มักจะเดินทางไปกับเพื่อนลูกบอลพบจุดที่น่าสนใจบนไม้ของเธอด้วยความสม่ำเสมอเช่นนี้” แมคนามิอธิบาย และปีโดยไม่ทำลายสาย ผู้ให้ความบันเทิงโบกไม้แร็กเกตของเธอเหมือนอุปกรณ์ประกอบฉากของนักมายากลเสียใจที่การปิดล้อมจะปิดแฟน ๆ จนถึงวันพุธและอาจนานกว่านั้น “ ฉันคิดว่าฉันยังคงเหมือนเดิมฉันสนุกกับมันฉันพยายามที่จะมองโลกในแง่ดี” เธอกล่าว “ถ้าฉันไม่ชนะฉันหวังว่าการกักกันจะสิ้นสุดลงในเร็ว ๆ นี้เพื่อที่ฉันจะได้มีความสุขสักหน่อย” แม้ว่าโอซาก้าจะได้รับชัยชนะ แต่เธอก็สงสัยว่ามันจะน่าพอใจ ในรอบสามของ Australian Open 2019 โอซาก้าแพ้ Si, 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 นี่ไม่ใช่ความทรงจำที่น่ารื่นรมย์ “ฉันจำได้ว่าฉันมีอารมณ์มากมายเพียงเพราะฉันรู้สึกว่าที่นั่นฉันไม่ได้มีอะไรมากมายที่ฉันสามารถควบคุมได้ด้วยการเล่นมัน” โอซาก้ากล่าวมันเป็นจุดแข็งที่ยิ่งใหญ่ที่สุดของเซียะเธอสามารถทำให้ดีที่สุดมีพลังมากที่สุด ผู้เล่นรู้สึกหมดหนทาง
MELBOURNE, Australia — The chatter about the speed of the tennis courts at the Australian Open this year started innocently enough.It was just before the ATP Cup, the team competition at Melbourne Park that preceded the Australian Open, the year’s first Grand Slam event. Dominic Thiem of Austria, the winner of last year’s United States Open, mentioned he had been practicing at John Cain Arena, and the ball seemed to be coming off the blue hardcourt pretty darn fast.Days later, Novak Djokovic, the world No. 1 and eight-time champion of the Australian Open, said the court at Rod Laver Arena, which he refers to as his second backyard, felt strikingly fast. Then, after his second-round defeat of Frances Tiafoe of the United States, Djokovic said it was playing faster than at any other time since he began playing here 15 years ago, which is not a bad thing for perhaps the game’s most precise and effective ball striker. He said it again after beating Milos Raonic in the fourth round Sunday night. On Friday night, Thiem, the No. 3 seed, came back from two sets down to beat the fan favorite Nick Kyrgios of Australia in the third round, and spoke of all the challenges he had faced — a hostile crowd, Kyrgios’s booming serve and “the fastest Grand Slam Court I have ever played on.”Few players have disagreed.Their comments have caught Tennis Australia, the organizer of the Australian Open and the keeper of the courts at Melbourne Park, a bit off guard. Last year at the Australian Open, some players complained the courts were too slow.Machar Reid, the head of innovation for Tennis Australia, knows the most about the condition of the courts. He said pretournament tests produced results similar to last year, the first year the Australian Open contracted with GreenSet, which supplies the acrylic coating of the courts, essentially the paint.“What we aim for is consistency, year after year, not just here but for all the facilities in the country, so the players are playing on a similar surface no matter where they are,” Reid said in an interview last week. “All our indications are that the courts are the same.”Without getting overly technical in evaluating the tests against the experiences of multimillionaire athletes who have hit countless shots on countless courts and are sensitive to the tiniest changes in conditions, it is worth noting that tennis players consistently suffer from the Goldilocks syndrome.Tennis courts are always either too fast or too slow, too slick or too sticky. Players can shift their opinion midway through a match if the weather changes. They are not an easy lot to please.Men seem to obsess and complain about the speed more than women, perhaps because they hit harder. A serve traveling at 130 miles per hour is plenty difficult to return on a normal court. On a too-fast court it is tough to get the racket on it.The International Tennis Federation, the sport’s world governing body, classifies tennis courts into one of five categories for its Court Pace Rating: slow, medium-slow, medium, medium-fast and fast. A surface receives its classification after various tests that include measuring how high a ball bounces when it hits the surface at different speeds and how easily it slides when it is dragged across it, as well as other factors.The red clay of the French Open is the slowest Grand Slam surface. Playing on the grass of Wimbledon in certain conditions can feel like playing on an ice rink, with the ball skidding and barely rising above a player’s shins. The slightly cushioned hardcourts at the United States Open and the Australian Open are plenty fast, but the ball generally pops up. The speed can be adjusted from year to year depending on the grittiness of the acrylic coating — think of it as adding sand to paint.All the courts at Melbourne Park were polished and given a fresh coat of the GreenSet acrylic before this year’s tournament. Reid said Tennis Australia aims to provide a court that lands right in the middle of the I.T.F. classification scale because the organization believes that kind of court produces the best tennis.A court rated in the fastest category would too heavily favor the big servers and prevent points from developing. A slow court would encourage players to stay back and turn each point into a defensive chess match. A medium court allows tennis to hit that delicate balance between athleticism and strategy.The problem is tennis tournaments don’t take place in a static environment. No matter what the numbers say, how “fast” a tennis court plays is the result of an incalculable and ever-changing interaction of the ball, the surface of the court and the climate.Changes in the weather can have a drastic effect on how a ball moves. Cooler weather can make a tennis ball feel like a rock on the racket and lessen its bounce. When the temperature rises, the ball becomes livelier. There have been a few hot days in the past month, but the weather has been rather cool for the Melbourne summer.Then again, racket and string technologies are always improving, allowing players to hit harder, with more topspin than ever. Also, courts generally speed up with increased play, and the courts at Melbourne Park have experienced significantly more play than normal this year. Players began practicing on the courts three weeks before the Australian Open. Five separate competitions took place the week before the tournament started.And yet it’s a mystery whether the courts are truly faster and how big a factor that will play in the outcome of the tournament.Fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, whose game is laced with power, described the court at Rod Laver Arena as one of the slowest at Melbourne Park and not that different from the courts at other Grand Slam events.But Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, one of the game’s great baseline defenders, described the courts as “really, really quick.” Schwartzman, the No. 8 seed, lost in the third round to Aslin Karatsev, a hard-hitting Russian ranked 114th in the world and playing in his first Grand Slam singles tournament. Karatsev dispatched Schwartzman in three sets.“He’s a guy who was doing very powerful shots every single time, and the court was not helping,” Schwartzman said. “I prefer it a little bit slower, to have better conditions so you can think a little bit more in the match and you can have choices, different choices, different shots.”In the fourth round, Karatsev came back from two sets down to defeat Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada, the No. 20 seed.“I played here before, and it was slower,” Karatsev said. “But for me, it’s good. I think the fast surface for me, it’s always good.”On Sunday, Thiem, the big hitter who started all this chatter, lost badly to Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria at Rod Laver Arena, 6-4, 6-4, 6-0.“It was very, very fast, probably the fastest Grand Slam I’ve played so far,” Thiem said. “But that wasn’t the issue.”After the tournament, Reid said, he will evaluate the reams of data produced by the Hawk-Eye system, which takes hundreds of measurements per second of the ball and the court position of each player. It should provide some insight into whether the courts were faster this year. Or maybe it won’t.
The Australian Open action over the weekend has both reduced the field in the Men’s Singles event and improved the chances of anyone backing the top three as Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Rafael Nadal all made stride towards the business end of the year’s first Grand Slam.Others fell by the wayside, however, including both men who were involved in the game of the Australian Open so far.Kyrgios Leads by Two Sets, Loses in FiveThe roar of approval for Nick Kyrgios in taking on Dominic Thiem could have been heard from the moon as the bad boy of men’s tennis clashed with a player he had previously described as exciting as “watching paint dry”.It was Kyrgios who started best, up to all his old tricks to gain every advantage he could against a tough opponent. From under-arm serving to vicious forehands let loose with an almost personal level of anger against the ball for daring to cross the net, Kyrgios raced into a two-set before his opponent had a chance to set himself.Thereafter, however, Thiem’s immense experience counted. Grinding himself back into the contest, the Austrian frustrated his opponent before drawing level. In the fifth and final set, Kyrgios had chances to put pressure on his opponent but too often they quickly slid away to leave his own serve to be tested. In the end, Thiem did enough to force the break and get over the line.The Field NarrowsDespite that victory, the quick turnaround time determined Thiem’s Round of 16 match against Grigor Dimtrov would go against him, with a simple straight sets win for the Bulgarian meaning he progressed. With Novak Djokovic making it past Milos Raonic despite a troubling abdominal injury, the Serb’s 7-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3 victory would be bettered by German Alexander Zverev, who won 6-4, 7-6, 6-3 against Djokovic’s fellow Serb Dusan Lajovic.Elsewhere, Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev continues to fulfill his dreams and although he’s a 66/1 outsider, is a dangerous opponent for anyone left in the draw. He will play Dimitrov hoping the big Bulgarian slips up.With Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev possibly on a collision course to renew their 2019 U.S. Open rivalry, each man will be trying to catch the other on a bad day.Here are the latest Men’s Singles odds to win the Australian Open title:Australian Open Men’s Singles Latest Odds(via Oddschecker):Novak Djokovic – 7/4Daniil Medvedev – 3/1 Rafael Nadal – 5/1Alexander Zverev – 7/1Stefanos Tsitsipas – 12/1Andrey Rublev – 12/1Grigor Dimitrov – 12/1
Aslan Karatsev (l.) pulled out a comeback Sunday after finding himself down two sets against Felix Auger-Aliassime (r.).Photo: Getty ImagesAs we’ve previously stated, the Australian Open has a surreal quality, at least on these shores, where an already-niche sport takes place in the dark for only the truly dedicated/bewildered. It’s even more so this edition, as on Friday the live spectators were shooed out of the tournament altogether, thanks to the state of Victoria’s latest COVID lockdown (and it merely took a handful of cases on the outskirts of town for the government to put those in. Imagine having that kind of leadership, responsibility, and care for your neighbor. Maybe when you already live in Australia, amongst all the things that can kill you instantly, you’re more aware of avoiding the extraneous dangers). Anyway, that led to the bizarre sight of the Taylor Fritz-Novak Djokovic match having to be held up for 10 minutes while the crowd left, right at the time the stadium would normally be filling up to watch a possible massive upset. It was a cavernous echo that responded to Djokovic’s roar as he pulled out the 5th set against Fritz, instead of a rapturous roar (or begrudging acceptance and a guarded appreciation rather than a soaking-in of Djokovic’s greatness, as it tends to be with him and crowds). But neither Djokovic nearly eating it early, nor home hero Nick Kyrgrios spitting away a two-set lead to Dominic Thiem on the same night is the biggest story on the men’s side of the draw (and that victory left Thiem a fine paste, as he was bulldozed by Gregor Dimitrov in his next match in straight sets last night). Aslan Karatsev had never played in a Grand Slam before this one. He’s 27, which is generally when a player has established his career arc, for better or for worse. He’s ranked 114th in the world, though that’s a result mostly of tearing it up on the Challenger Tour last year, the tier below the ATP. He was ranked 300 before that. And now he has bulldozed his way to the quarterfinals where he’ll meet Dimitrov. Karatsev hadn’t dropped a set in his first three matches, and had only lost 20 games in his three wins. He rolled into the fourth-round having completely clubbed Diego Schwartzman, (ranked 8th) in straight sets in the third. Perhaps the most refreshing thing about watching Karatsev pull off an actual, tennis-version of Hoosiers, is that he plays like someone who has nothing to lose. Because he doesn’t. It’s the way you’ve always wanted to walk into a Vegas casino with a bankroll, until you remember your mortgage or kids’ college fund or how friendly your spouse seems to be with the neighbor. A complete, “Fuck it, it’s free cake” attitude toward life. Karatsev has been simply bombing it from the baseline, going for every shot that’s there and some that aren’t. It’s what American hope Frances Tiafoe has been attempting for years, but without the restrictor plates that would keep him within limits long enough to make serious noise. Karatsev thunders forehands and backhands to within inches of the baseline, because if you have his story, and you don’t know how much longer this will last, you’re not going to waste time with “feeling your way into a match” or “strategy” or “ logic.” It’s like taco night at college for Karatsev. We’ll worry about the gastrointestinal issues when we get to them. Schwartzman’s game is based on being a backboard, and he was basically reduced to a spectator to Karatsev’s laser show. G/O Media may get a commissionKaratsev’s latest rolling of sevens came against Felix Auger-Aliassime, the Canadian who has promised so much for a couple seasons now and yet hasn’t quite broken down all the firewalls on his game that would unlock so much. Karatsev was down two sets, and it appeared his pressing his engine to 7000 RPM for the length of the tournament had overcooked it. He piled up 26 unforced errors in the first two sets to just seven winners, while Auger-Aliassime played very cleanly and simply and let Karatsev’s lines blow. But Karatsev found the rhythm over the next three sets, piling up 30 winners in the final three sets, including 22 in the final two, as F.A.A.’s game broke down. Karatsev is the first qualifier to get to the quarters in Melbourne in 32 years. He’s the first qualifier to get to any Slam in 10. He’s the first player to make the quarters of his first Slam in 25 years. It’s a complete joyride, and long may it continue. Elsewhere, Daniil Medvedev continued his tortured genius approach to life with a five-set win on Friday that saw him berate his own coach for so long and so often, and in three different languages just for variety’s sake, the dude just got up and left before Medvedev pulled himself out of his ennui to blitz Filip Krajinovic in the 5th set 6-0, which saved Medvedev from blowing his own two-set lead. The constant harassing of a coach not doing much more than sitting there in an empty arena makes for even more awkward viewing, but Medvedev’s rise to the top of the game has been a constant exhibition of absurdism, both in his game — he can vary wildly in style, tactics, and performance and that’s from game to game — and personality. It’s been refreshing to have this kind of story now, because it still looks like the chalk is going to be left at the end. Djokovic complained of a foot injury against Fritz, and even wondered if he could make his next match, which he did and saw off without much fuss, sending Milos Raonic home in four sets. Rafael Nadal hasn’t dropped a set yet, and now won’t have to worry about strange women expressing their views in clear fashion toward him with no crowds being allowed. .
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The bitter feud between Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios is showing no signs of abating, with Kyrgios recently taking another jibe at Djokovic. This time, Kyrgios has openly admitted to disliking Djokovic, while also seemingly mocking the Serb’s trademark celebration.Novak Djokovic had earlier given his thoughts on Nick Kyrgios – a long-standing critic of his – by saying that he doesn’t hold the Australian in high regard off the pitch. The Serb did, however, laud Kyrgios for his tennis skills.Not one to let his nemesis have the last word, Nick Kyrgios has hit back at the World No. 1 with his recent actions and comments. Ahead of his doubles match with Thanasi Kokkinakis (against Koolhof / Kubot) on Sunday, Kyrgios imitated the Serb’s famous ‘heart-throwing’ celebration.Interestingly enough, the gesture was directed to empty stands, as fans have now been banned from attending the 2021 Australian Open.Kyrgios (and Kokkinakis) lost the match, and in the post-match press conference Kyrgios explained the reason behind his act. Tongue firmly in cheek, the 25-year-old stated that he was trying to ‘spread the good word’.“Just feeling the love, just trying to spread the good word of the celebration,” Kyrgios said. “Everyone loves that celebration. It’s well-liked.”The Australian also asserted that his actions didn’t bear any ill will towards Novak Djokovic. He then went on to reveal that he is well-aware of Djokovic’s animosity towards himself, before adding that he harbors similar feelings towards the Serb.“It’s nothing malicious, we just like to have some fun,” Kyrgios said. “Look, looking around there’s literally just blue, and we’re like, wow, this is tough. But we’re just trying to have some fun. Novak, I’m sure, doesn’t like me and we both have respect for each other, but I don’t like him at all, so it’s fun.”Nick Kyrgios even labeled his antics as ‘banter’, and opined that his colleagues tend to have a very solemn outlook whereas he himself is driven by the lighter side of things.
“I know tennis players are very serious, so I think that’s why we’ve kind of got a bit of energy about us,” explained the Australian. “We just banter anyway. When we tweet or when we just do stuff, it’s for fun, you know, like you can’t take it all too seriously.”Nick Kyrgios mocks Novak Djokovic’s injury claims Novak Djokovic after his win over Taylor FritzNovak Djokovic seemingly injured himself during his third-round match against Taylor Fritz. The Serb struggled to move after the second set, and saw his two-set to love lead fade away quickly.Djokovic fought through the pain and ousted Fritz in five sets, but skipped his training session the next day to undergo scans. Djokovic also expressed his fears of suffering a muscle tear in his abdomen, which many – including Nick Kyrgios – are struggling to believe.Commenting on Taylor Fritz’s Instagram post, Nick Kyrgios took a jibe at Novak Djokovic’s condition, indirectly questioning the severity of the Serb’s injury.
“Imma take a medical real quick Fritzy, I’ll be back in 2 hours,” Kyrgios commented.
Published 14 Feb 2021, 18:12 IST
MELBOURNE, Australia — Serena Williams became a time traveler on Sunday, pulled back to the past to essentially face down her much younger self.Across the net from her in the fourth round of the Australian Open stood the 22-year-old Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, who turned pro at 14, like Williams, and whose strategy called to mind Williams’s game plan at the same age: If at first you don’t succeed, hit harder.Williams, 39, stared down Sabalenka, and after two gripping hours, Sabalenka blinked. In the 10th game of the deciding set, Sabalenka mustered one point on her serve as Williams, a seven-time champion, seized the break and a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 victory to set up a quarterfinal meeting with Simona Halep, who dispatched the 19-year-old Iga Swiatek in three sets.Williams’s longevity makes it easy to forget that before she was the game’s grande dame, she was its whiz kid, collecting nine WTA singles titles, including one Grand Slam, before she was out of her teens.Sabalenka, a nine-time winner on the WTA Tour, and Swiatek, the reigning French Open champion, are the latest in a long string of polished phenoms threaded through Williams’s career. One of the biggest stars to emerge, Naomi Osaka, saved two match points to beat Garbiñe Muguruza on Sunday. Still, from Jennifer Capriati and Monica Seles to Maria Sharapova and Sloane Stephens, Williams has watched many young talents come and go and, on occasion, stray far from tennis.A sport with a history of suffocating its young has not stifled Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion in singles whose love for the game seems to have deepened over time. Against Sabalenka, she studied a page of written notes during changeovers like she was back in high school. She fiddled with her “Queen” necklace. She dug balls out of the corners and ran from side to side like she was on the school blacktop at recess.Darren Cahill, one of Halep’s coaches, described Williams’s movement as the best he has seen from her “in a long, long time” and said, “If you can stay in more points and get more balls back, stay alive, then she’s got the power to turn those points around.”What Williams is doing is also inconceivable to the younger Americans, three of whom followed her into the second week. Marveled one of the three, the 28-year-old Shelby Rogers: “What she’s been able to accomplish is absolutely incredible because some days I wake up now and I’m like, ‘OK I’m not 21 anymore.’”Williams’s serve usually allows her to win her share of easy points. But against Sabalenka, her main weapon continually misfired. Williams put 52 percent of her first serves in play and recorded eight double faults, including one in the fifth game of the third set, which gave Sabalenka two break points.With the state of Victoria in Day 2 of a hard lockdown, no fans were in the stands, but the restrictions placed on the local populace did not extend to Williams’s inner circle, which includes her husband, coach, agent, hitting partner and older sister Venus, 40, who lost in the second round.Williams didn’t need to be told by the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, that her entourage qualified as “essential workers,” a classification that made it possible for them to attend the match. Her team is elemental to her success, and she looked over often to where everyone was seated. When she was down 15-40 in that fifth game, Venus raised both hands as if signaling a touchdown and they locked eyes.Williams’s most recent Grand Slam championship came at Venus’s expense at Melbourne Park in 2017, when she was two months pregnant with her firstborn daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian. Since becoming a parent, Williams has found her voice as an advocate for working mothers everywhere, speaking openly of the hardships, both physical and emotional, that she and others on the WTA Tour — and in the wider world — confront daily while balancing their jobs and child-rearing.But in that telepathic moment between the sisters, Serena was not tennis’s earth mother. She was transported back in time to her early years as a pro when she looked to Venus for direction.“When I hear her voice, it just makes me calm and confident,” Williams said. “Yeah, I think there’s something about it that just makes me feel really good.”She got her first serve in on the next three points and won them all, earning an advantage with a 126 mile-an-hour ace. Williams closed out the game on a frazzled Sabalenka’s forced error.Sabalenka fought back, winning the next three games to draw even at 4-4. At that point, she said “I felt like I should win it. I felt like I was fighting really well.”But so was Williams. She held, and with Sabalenka serving to stay in the match, Williams got enough balls back to fluster her younger opponent, whose service game ended with a double fault and two forehand unforced errors.“I just needed to play better on the big points,” Williams said. “I knew that I could. I still hadn’t reached my peak. I was like, ‘OK, Serena, you got this. Just keep going.’”After 23 major singles titles and hundreds of millions of dollars in prize money and endorsements and motherhood, how does Williams find the motivation to keep chasing a tennis ball?The answer could be found in how Williams spent her off day. After her Saturday practice, she put her daughter down for a nap and then made work calls to the United States, finalizing orders and obsessing about fabrics for her S by Serena fashion line, which she described as her “second career.”There’s a method to Williams’s multitasking. She has been doing it her whole life, she said. She never played a full tennis schedule as a junior and has never played a full schedule as a pro.“I still went to college, I still did a lot of other things,” Williams said. “I had other careers. It was impossible to burn out.”Convention holds that Williams continues to play because she has Margaret Court’s career record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles in her sights. But the truth might be simpler.“I like my job,” she said. “I like what I do. It’s pretty special I get to come out and still get to do it.”
Daniil Medvedev, the fourth seed, struggled in his third round matchup against Filip Krajinovic, losing the third and fourth sets in spectacular fashion. Medvedev cycled between yelling at himself in Russian, his coach in French, and Krajinovic’s well placed volleys in English. In the fifth set, Medvedev settled back in and won six straight games.For McDonald to pull off an upset, he will need to exploit Medvedev’s natural volatility. Medvedev should be able to keep McDonald at bay if he can keep calm and use his varied shots to pull the American around the edges of the court.Rod Laver Arena | 11 p.m. SundayRafael Nadal vs. Fabio FogniniRafael Nadal, the No. 2 seed, has struggled with a small back injury throughout the first week of the Australian Open. However, this has not stopped him from rolling past his opposition without dropping a set. Nadal’s powerful topspin shots have consistently pushed his opponents around the court, depriving them of the time necessary to impose their own ideas upon a rally.Fabio Fognini, the 16th seed, has had a roller coaster week. He struggled in a five-set contest against a fellow Italian, Salvatore Caruso, but then dispatched the 21st seed, Alex de Minaur, in just three sets. Fognini, who won a doubles title at the Australian Open in 2015, has been to the round of 16 in Melbourne four times, and will have a difficult time overcoming Nadal.Rod Laver Arena | 3 a.m. MondayAshleigh Barty vs. Shelby RogersAshleigh Barty, the world No. 1, has moved through to the fourth round without dropping a set. In her third round victory over Ekaterina Alexandrova she played smart tennis, not going for big shots and allowing Alexandrova to overplay and extracting 30 unforced errors.Shelby Rogers, an unseeded player, has reached two major quarterfinals, but has never won a WTA tournament. Her inconsistency on tour can partially be blamed on ruptured cartilage in her knee, which required surgery in 2018.Barty and Rogers faced off in the quarterfinals of the Yarra Valley Classic last week, with Barty winning in a third-set tiebreaker. For Rogers to reverse her fortunes, she’ll need to play aggressively without over-hitting, a tough needle to thread.