I love a feel-good Slam story and we’ve had so many to enjoy over the past few years on the women’s side. Without doubt, the pleasant surprise of this 2017 tournament has been Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. After storming past Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round, Lucic-Baroni has gone on to reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.
Two huge stats:
Prior to this week, Lucic-Baroni had only ever won one main draw match at the Australian Open which was 19 years ago in 1998.
Lucic-Baroni is into her first Slam quarter-final since 1999 when she had her career-best result at Wimbledon by reaching the semi-finals.
Lucic-Baroni beat Jennifer Brady, 6-4 6-2 in the fourth round on Monday. Her post-match interview was an absolute delight. Mirjana is inspiring and I just love her attitude.
A word for Jennifer Brady who had a huge breakthrough tournament. The American had never played a Slam main draw so to go onto win three matches was an incredible effort.
I’d tagged Barbora Strycova to get a set off Serena Williams in my predictions and while it was straight sets, it was Serena’s tightest match of the tournament so far. Serena’s serve wasn’t firing and she made quite a few errors off the forehand side. However, she came through for the win which is all that matters.
This is mesmerising to watch over and over again!
Loved this from Barbora.
Johanna Konta, aka the Bourne-slayer, maintained her stunning recent form with a ninth consecutive victory, beating Ekaterina Makarova, 6-1 6-4. It was Konta’s fourth win in a row over Makarova and all FOUR have been at ‘Bourne tournaments. I loved the crowd’s reaction in her post-match interview when they announced her quarter-final opponent!
This was so thoughtful from Jo in press. Her ability to perform in the pressure moments has been nothing short of extraordinary over the past six months.
After the match, Jo met Jo!
The final fourth round match saw Karolina Pliskova beat Daria Gavrilova, 6-3 6-3.
Sooo the quarter-finals are all set.
Serena Williams will play Johanna Konta in the quarter-finals…. BRING. IT. ON.
To be honest, i’ve been underwhelmed by the women’s matches over the past few days. The fourth round produced eight straight set matches with not even one tiebreak. I’m so excited for Serena v Jo and i’m hoping it could be “the one” that sets this women’s draw alive. A preview to come soon…
The quarter-finals of the women’s doubles are all set.
Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic (1) v Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua
Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina (3) v Andrea Hlavackova and Peng Shuai (12)
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and Andrea Petkovic v Eri Hozumi and Miyu Kato
Raquel Atawo and Xu Yifan (11) v Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova (2)
Lots to like about with this draw and i’m circling that top match with thick red ink. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Barty and Dellacqua go all the way, but I also like Hlavackova and Peng, and Mattek-Sands and Safarova in this draw.
Tuesday will be the first quarter-finals day. A preview for the second match up on Rod Laver Arena between Garbiñe Muguruza and CoCo Vandeweghe is now up on the blog.
The other quarter-final will be contested between Venus Williams and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and I have NO CLUE who’s going to take this one! First instinct was Venus, though Pavlyuchenkova has started the year in decent form. Venus leads the head-to-head, 3-2 – they’ve only played once in the last seven years with Venus winning a three setter in Montreal. I think Venus feels like the safer pick, but i’m probably leaning 55-45 to Pavs. Venus is a legend but i’d actually love to see Pavs break new ground at a Slam.
And finally, I love an around-the-net post winner and we’ve had two in two days from Roger and Rafa!