The semi-finals are all set at the 2019 Australian Open. The quarter-finals ended with one of the most dramatic matches of the tournament so far. The Australian summer of tennis is drawing to a close! This post rounds up the highlights from Tuesday and Wednesday’s quarter-finals, as well as a look ahead to Thursday’s semi-finals.
Collins breaks new ground and then some
Prior to the 2019 Australian Open, Danielle Collins had never played the AO main draw before, or won a main draw match at any of the four Slams. Danielle Collins was also two points from defeat in her first round match against Julia Goerges. Danielle Collins is now a Slam semi-finalist!
Collins came back from a set down to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 2-6 7-5 6-1. The American never looked in control during the first two sets but stuck at it, managed to lengthen the rallies and then squeak out the second set. From there on, Collins tore through the decider. Collins played a great first game and never looked back from there, hitting 13 winners to just one (!) unforced error in the decider.
I’m disappointed for Pavs who is now 0-5 in Slam quarter-finals. Still, a great tournament for the Russian player who defeated two top ten seeds along the way. I have to commend Collins for her mental toughness and being able to deal round-by-round with all these new experiences. As much as the tournament has seen fewer upsets than normal, Collins reaching the semi-finals is something I never imagined at the start of the tournament.
Kvitova’s first Slam SF since 2014
Flashes of Peak Petra shone bright like a beacon on Tuesday night as Petra Kvitova beat Ashleigh Barty, 6-1 6-4 in just 68 minutes. While Barty never really got her into her groove, I do wonder whether many players on tour would have been able to disrupt the Petra in this form. The Czech player produced another superb display of serving, landing 68% of first serves in and saving all three break points faced.
Kvitova handled Barty’s slice well and managed to force the Aussie forced back behind the baseline. At 4-4 in the second set, Kvitova was dominant with the backhand. When Barty did see an opening to come forward on the first break point at *15-40, she was unable to keep the ball in play. Barty was asked about her own performance in her press conference but kept deferring to Kvitova’s level and stated that Kvitova simply didn’t allow her to play her game.
I think Barty has shown significant progress through this Australian swing. Playing in front of the home crowd and dealing with all the pressure and expectation can’t be easy and she’s handled it impressively to make her first Slam quarter-final. Kvitova has looked in sensational form through much of the tournament. I just hope she can keep this form up.
Kvitova’s touching post-match interview
Osaka’s first AO semi-final
In a rather uninspiring quarter-final, Naomi Osaka enjoyed her first straight sets win since the second round with a 6-4 6-1 victory over Elina Svitolina. Osaka played a ropey game trying to serve out the first set at *5-3 with some big errors long but as she has done for much of the tournament, managed to reset and refocus quickly. Osaka won seven of the last eight games.
Svitolina took a medical time-out midway through the third set for the shoulder, which seemed to be an issue during her third round match too. Svitolina is now 0-4 in Slam quarter-finals. I think this one was a tough ask in the situation and up against an in-form opponent. I’ve really been taken aback by this start to the season for Osaka. I honestly thought she’d struggle this year but that has not been the case at all. To back up the Slam win in New York with a semi-final showing in Melbourne is very, very impressive and quite rare these days.
Pliskova saves 4 MPs, beats Serena in 🎢 QF
Wow. This was a shocker to wake up to! Karolina Pliskova rallied from 1-5 down in the third set and saved four match points to beat Serena Williams, 6-4 4-6 7-5 in a two hour-ten minute thriller.
I’ve just finished watching the match back. This is the type of match that I wish i’d watched live as you don’t feel the drama as much when you know the final result. I thought Pliskova was superb in the first set as she rarely looked overawed by Williams’s hitting. It was a continuation of the match against Muguruza where she so solid and moving very well. Williams mounted an impressive comeback to come from a set and a break down to force the decider. Hitting more aggressively and dominating the rallies against an increasingly passive Pliskova, Williams won nine games out of ten to go up 5-1 in the third set.
First serve on her first match point at *5-1 *40-30, Williams was called for a foot fault. On the second serve, Pliskova dominated the point and Williams seemed to tweak her ankle. It was clearly an unsettling moment and Williams went off her game. At the same time, Pliskova pounced. Williams didn’t win another point on her serve in the rest of the match! However, the American did have three more chances to win the match with Pliskova serving at *4-5. I thought Pliskova played the match points superbly, especially the last one with a groundstroke that barely found the line.
It was an unfortunate ending for Serena who had done all the hard work to turn the match around. The ankle tweak clearly shook her for a time but she did have her chances again to close. Credit to Pliskova who significantly raised her level and was clutch down match point.
Serena’s press conference
Serena gave all the credit to Karolina in her press conference. I was surprised how upbeat and talkative she was in her presser. It sounds like Indian Wells will be her next tournament.
First up at 2pm local time on Thursday is Petra Kvitova vs. Danielle Collins. I’m a bit worried for Petra as it will played in the heat of the day with the forecast projecting temperatures of up to 40C. I’m sure Kvitova won’t underestimate Collins after their gruelling match in Brisbane which Kvitova won, 6-7(6) 7-6(6) 6-3 in three hours and one minute. Collins has played some sensational tennis this week, seemingly unperturbed by the new situations she has been dealing with. I would guess the step up from QFs to SFs is pretty big so I am interested to see how she copes with the situation. Kvitova’s been in stunning form this tournament and I tend to think she will keep it up. I am a bit worried about the weather and the threat that Collins poses, but going for Petra.
Second up is Karolina Pliskova vs. Naomi Osaka. This is a 50-50 match for me. The pair split their 2018 meetings with each scoring a straight sets win and both have been excellent this tournament, toughing out two three setters with Pliskova saving match points against Williams and Osaka almost a game away from defeat against Hsieh. I think both will be OK with the heat but I always remember Osaka saying that she really likes the heat and is used to it. I’d probably go Osaka but I think it’s a close one.
Personally, i’m really, really, REALLY hoping for a Kvitova vs. Osaka final! 🤞