The quarter-finals are all set at the 2019 Australian Open after two days of exciting action. I was hoping to get a post out yesterday but I had a few medical issues last night. I’m feeling a bit better now so am continuing my half-written post from yesterday and adding on today’s round-up. I think this is the most tennis I have ever watched from Melbourne, yet i’ve managed to maintain a pretty decent sleep pattern. The Eurosport Player, while clunky in places, has been absolutely brilliant in producing all matches on catch-up. Read on for 12 stories in Monday’s Set Points to wrap up all of the last 16 matches.
Kvitova in stunning form
Petra Kvitova needed just 59 minutes to see off Amanda Anisimova and reach her first Australian Open quarter-final since 2012. Kvitova won, 6-2 6-1, in what was a fine performance. The start was actually very promising from both players. Kvitova secured the early break, but Anisimova was taking the ball so early. Kvitova’s serve was fantastic with 86% of first serves in! She was also very aggressive on the Anisimova second serve. Kvitova got stronger and stronger during the match and the pressure took its toll on Anisimova who buckled in the second set.
It’s great to see Kvitova translating her form from Sydney at a Slam. I definitely called this one all wrong and i’m happy about that! I always think the first few matches are the danger zone for Kvitova. I feel less wary (😬) now she’s into the second week. Props to Anisimova for a tremendous tournament. I liked her tweet where she gave Petra credit today. It goes without saying that she will learn from this and come back stronger.
Barty’s best result at a Slam, fends off late charge from Sharapova
Ash Barty is into the quarter-finals of a Slam for the first time in her career after a 4-6 6-1 6-4 win over Maria Sharapova. The final set was gripping drama as Sharapova produced a late fightback.
Barty had won nine games in a row from 1-1 in the second set as Sharapova totally lost her rhythm on both her serve and groundstrokes. Barty looked to be cruising to victory as she had a break point to go up 5-0 in the decider. Sharapova rallied, suddenly finding some form as she saved break points in consecutive service games. Serving at *4-3 *15-40, Barty found big serves when it really mattered and closed out the game with an ace and an unreturnable. The final game was a tricky one too. Again, Barty relied on the serve to seal one of the biggest wins of her career.
I am absolutely thrilled for Barty and it feels like another step forward in her career. There’s been quite a few matches against the top players where she hasn’t been able to find her A-game. This was a very steady display and she stuck to her gameplan with the slice proving to be a very effective weapon against Sharapova. All in all, a much better tournament than I expected for Sharapova. Her press conference was an interesting one where she declined to answer about the crowd booing her when she took an extended toilet break after the second set and the impact of meldonium.
Amazing point from Barty-Sharapova
This was an amazing point. I screamed at least three times during it 😂.
Collins stuns Kerber
I watched Kvitova-Anisimova and Barty-Sharapova on catch-up on Sunday morning without knowing the score so didn’t know what had happened in Kerber-Collins. I spoke to my brother when I was in the third set with Barty-Sharapova and nonchalantly asked him if Kerber won. He went silent… 😲. Then he told me the scoreline! I was shocked.
Danielle Collins produced a powerful display to overwhelm Angelique Kerber and inflict a heavy defeat, 6-0 6-2 in just 56 minutes. Kerber was flat and passive in the first set and hit five double faults as Collins eased through the set for the loss of just nine points. Kerber came back from a toilet break with renewed vigour and celebrated winning the first two points of the set. Collins responded with a drop shot and a huge roar, right in Kerber’s face. Not a fan of this behaviour but I can understand why she did it at that time.
Kerber put up more of a fight early on in the second set, but Collins ran away with it from 2-2 and closed out with so much authority and conviction. It really was a mega performance from Collins who said in her post-match interview that “I may not have won a Grand Slam match before this, but I got to tell you, I think it’s going to keep happening!”
Pavs into a 5th Slam QF
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova rallied from a set and a break down to score a first ever win over Sloane Stephens, 6-7(3) 6-3 6-3 in two hours and 32 minutes. As much as i’m aware of the talent that Pavlyuchenkova possesses, I thought Stephens would win this match. Pavs played a great match as she absolutely pounded the Stephens serve in the third set. It was another late/early finish – I really wish they’d looked at the schedule and realise playing two matches from 7pm including a best of five set match is ridiculous.
Osaka beats Sevastova again
The match-up between Naomi Osaka and Anastasija Sevastova is fast becoming one of my favourite on the tour. The pair produced another high-quality encounter as, for the second time in three weeks, Osaka came from a set down to win in three sets, 4-6 6-3 6-4. Sevastova is such a talented player and managed to match Osaka again for the most part. From the second set onwards, I thought Osaka played the big points better and always seemed to find a big serve when she needed it.
Osaka had a couple of setbacks after going up a break in the decider but she was able to refocus. It was nice to see Osaka throw in some variety with a couple of drop shots, playing Sevastova at her own game. The final game of the second set produced a handful of gorgeous rallies. There was the one linked below, as well one where they were both slicing that was just 😍😍😍 but I cannot find anywhere.
As we’re used to seeing, Sevastova showed a lot of frustration on the court. However, she was quite positive in press and acknowledged that she had had a good tournament and came up against a tough opponent. I like her sense of humour. She said that she hopes Osaka goes onto do well and plays a better match this time – after defeating Sevastova in Brisbane, Osaka struggled in the next round against Lesia Tsurenko.
Still super impressed by Osaka who is adding new facets to her game and is competing like a big time player. She’s fast becoming one of my favourite players to watch too.
Svitolina’s first win over Keys
In a lopsided scoreline, Elina Svitolina scored her first ever win over Madison Keys, 6-2 1-6 6-1. Keys made a slow start as she took a while to find the range on her forehand. When she did, and coupled with strong serving, she looked awesome in the second set. Keys had the momentum going into the third set.
In the third game of the decider and what proved to be the pivotal moment of the match, Svitolina survived an 11-deuce, 16-minute game (!). Keys missed five break points – there were a couple of good chances including one where she was in the forecourt and just chose the wrong side. The momentum switched sides after this game as Svitolina grew in confidence and won the last five games of the match, finishing with a flurry in the final game and a series of aggressively played points.
I felt like Keys’s lack of matches prior to the Australian Open may have caught up with her in this one. I was impressed with Svitolina who was actually the outsider with the bookmakers. Both players looked to come forward and it was Svitolina who was more successful with the tactic, winning 16 of 19 points up at the net.
There was a funny moment at the start of the decider…
Pliskova eases past Muguruza
I’ve been on the Muguruza train during this Slam but that train has now run its course. Karolina Pliskova extended her head-to-head lead over Muguruza to 8-2 with a 6-3 6-1 victory in exactly an hour. I actually thought Muguruza played a solid match for the most part but came up against a superb Pliskova who finished with statistics of 23 winners to just 3 (THREE?!?!) unforced errors.
I think the match with Konta did have a negative impact on her physically as she looked a little sluggish and mentioned the heat in her press conference. Pliskova was so comfortable in the second set and her serve was dynamite. The Czech player has now made the quarter-finals at four of her last six Slams.
A Serena-Simona blockbuster
While excited for the prospect of Serena Williams going up against the world number one, Simona Halep, I didn’t actually have high expectations for the match. After a one-sided start, the match blossomed into a classic as Williams beat Halep, 6-1 4-6 6-4.
Williams danced through the first set, 6-1, with some simply scintillating play. Halep fought valiantly to get a foot in the door in the second set. It felt like this was down to her serve as her first serve percentage jumped from 65% to 76% in the second set. Halep managed to extend the rallies and get closer to the baseline. It was so great to see her going toe-to-toe with Williams in the rallies and being aggressive with her shotmaking going down-the-line.
In the middle of the third set, Williams was clearly up against it and I thought Halep was looking the more likely winner. The big game (see linked below) came with Williams serving at *2-3 in the decider. Halep had a trio of break points but Williams produced some big first serves. The American was getting louder and more agitated, even proclaiming that “it’s not fair” to one of Halep’s shot clipping the net and going over. Suddenly, she seemed to calm herself, accept the situation and find another level.
I think Halep has had a brilliant tournament. Perhaps that seems odd to be saying for a world number one going out in the fourth round of a Slam but I think it is the case when you consider the context of her playing one match prior to the tournament and being handed an absolute beast of a draw. I admit I wasn’t fully tuned in on Simona’s back injury over the off-season so am relieved to see that she doesn’t appear to be an issue. I really enjoyed her press conference where she was bright, bubbly and engaged, and could see the positives of her performance.
Champs always seem to have the one match where they come back from the brink. This wasn’t quite back from the brink but Serena really had to dig in during the third set and raise her level to hold off Halep. No doubt this will make her stronger going forward but the draw doesn’t get any easier…
Funniest moment of the tournament so far… 🤣🤣🤣
Still howling at Serena’s reaction when she walked out first on Rod Laver Arena when the announcer was preparing for Simona!
Sooooo the line-up for the quarters is as follows:
(16) Serena Williams vs. (7) Karolina Pliskova
(4) Naomi Osaka vs. (6) Elina Svitolina
(8) Petra Kvitova vs. (15) Ash Barty
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Danielle Collins
So much intrigue still left in this draw. I think my favourite prospective final would have to be Serena vs. Petra and it’s probably what i’d go for. I’ve longed to see them play a Wimby final against each other but i’d take any Slam final tbh. A potential Serena vs. Naomi semi-final would be huge. I’m still deliberating about that Osaka-Svitolina QF. Half of the field is trying to break new ground and reach the semis of a Slam for the first time. Personally speaking, I am rooting for the winner of Petra/Ash to go on and win the whole caboodle.