Australian Open 2020, Day 7 Review: Jabeur & Kenin’s best Slam result, Barty-Kvitova QF rematch

The first duo of quarter-finals is set at the 2020 Australian Open! Sunday’s batch of last 16 matches produced three three setters, two players who achieved their best ever Slam results in Ons Jabeur and Sofia Kenin, and a repeat quarter-final for Tuesday between Ash Barty and Petra Kvitova. Read on for a review of all four last 16 matches.

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1. Kenin ends Gauff’s run

Sofia Kenin reached her first Slam quarter-final with a come-from-behind victory over Coco Gauff, 6-7(5) 6-3 6-0. I really enjoyed this match and it was entertaining to watch. There wasn’t much to separate the pair in the first set with Gauff just a bit more aggressive and Kenin throwing in two double faults in the first set tiebreak.

From there on, Kenin really locked in as she landed 81% (!) of first serves in during the final two sets. She used the serve as a platform to build the points, moving the ball around very effectively on the first strike after the serve. In contrast, Gauff became increasingly erratic on serve in the second set. I thought the third set scoreline was harsh on Gauff who had her chances to win a couple of games. Kenin was just relentless.

There was a nice hug at the net and some emotion from Kenin after the match point. I’m high on Kenin this year (number two in my season-end rankings!) and i’m really pleased to see her snap up this opportunity after her draw opened up.

2. Jabeur makes history

Ons Jabeur became the first Arab woman to reach the quarter-finals of a Slam. Jabeur had never won a set before against Wang Qiang but came through in straight sets, 7-6(4) 6-1. I thought Wang Qiang was the better player in the first set but Jabeur was gritty, managing to fight back from 2-4* down and then save a set point, before hitting a trio of winners to win the first set tiebreak. From there, Jabeur cruised to a famous victory.

I’ve noticed how universally loved Jabeur seems to be on tour as she’s regularly hugging her opponents at the net! Her game has always been extremely flashy with moments of absolute brilliance over the past years. I’m happy to see Jabeur show some consistency. I remember her first round press conference where she said she wanted to be top 20 and qualify for Zhuhai – bold targets but admired the ambition.

3. Barty’s first win over Riske

Ash Barty scored her first win over Alison Riske, 6-3 1-6 6-4, to reach just her third Slam quarter-final. Barty started brilliantly and refocused after a small blip to win the first set. Barty’s point construction was stunning. Barty’s backhand slice was particularly impressive as she bided her time before attacking. There was one particular point which she finished with a classic backhand down-the-line. It was just GORGEOUS!

Barty lost her way in the second set as Riske, who has really come of age on tour, fought back. Barty began to dance again with her backhand slice to go up an early break in the decider but 4-1 soon became 4-4 as a characteristically plucky Riske leveled up the scoreline. Riske is such a great competitor. Barty found her forehand just in the nick of time as Riske faltered in the final game, double faulting on match point.

Barty’s consistency and mental toughness have been exceptional over the past 12 months. She has handled the world number one status better than most.

4. Kvitova finds a way

Petra Kvitova made it back-to-back Australian Open quarter-finals with a hard fought, 6-7(4) 6-3 6-2 victory over Maria Sakkari. This was a bit of a messy match and I just couldn’t get into it as many of the points were decided on forced or unforced errors. I don’t mean this in a bad way but Sakkari is really good at making her opponents play badly!

Sakkari twice failed to serve out the opener but won it on the tiebreak with a Kvitova double fault pretty much the difference. Sakkari’s serve became increasingly vulnerable in the second set as her first serve percentage dipped under 50%. I felt this caused the sea change as Kvitova got more looks on return, won the second set, and then seemed to find her rhythm better in the third set.

A great win for Kvitova because she was not playing her best and I think this makes her more dangerous in the draw with the confidence that the victory will bring her.

Super stat ๐Ÿ”ข

Barty and Kvitova will meet for the eighth time on Tuesday. This will also be a rematch from last year as they played in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open last year. Since Kvitova’s win over Barty in Melbourne last year, Barty has won their last three meetings.

Best pointย  ๐ŸŽพ

I wish I could share the Barty-Riske point mentioned above but the Australian Open are rubbish at sharing points. I find a lot of videos on their Twitter page are geo-restricted – I just don’t understand why because surely they want to sell their tournament and get as much exposure as possible?!

H&H ๐Ÿค—

This was a nice moment between Sonya and Coco after an intense match.

Favourite snap ๐Ÿ“ธ

From yesterday, I love this picture of Elise Mertens!

Press highlight ๐Ÿ“ฐ

Loved this from the WTA Insider Twitter account.

Recommended reading ๐Ÿ“š

Another piece with Kiki Bertens on BBC Sport where she talks about her dislike of playing on big courts. Interesting to hear her thoughts on her next opponent, Muguruza as you could tell in her post-match interview after beating Diyas that she did not know they were going to play each other in the fourth round.

R4 previews ๐Ÿค”

Intrigued by all four of these matches!

Simona Halep vs. Elise Mertens: Halep leads the H2H, 2-1, but Mertens did win their most recent match in the final of Doha where she came from a set and a break down to triumph. Mertens is low-key one of the most reliable Slam players with this being her sixth second week Slam appearance in the last nine. Not seen enough of their matches this tournament to give a confident assessment of this one. I’m leaning towards Halep though.

Kiki Bertens vs. Garbine Muguruza: My favourite match-up of the day. Muguruza has been superb through the last two rounds. Bertens has handled a pretty straightforward draw but convincingly. Kiki admitted after her third round win over Zarina Diyas that she needs to be more aggressive which I agree with! Muguruza has won their two hard court meetings, the most recent in Indian Wells last year. I’m on the fence with this. Perhaps slightly edging towards Muguruza in the match-up but I like that Bertens is going under-the-radar and I want to stay loyal to my predicted finalist!

Angelique Kerber vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: These two know each other’s games inside out having played 13 times before! Pavs leads Kerber, 7-6 in the H2H. I am going for Pavs in this one. She’s got a good record against Kerber and has looked in fine form this tournament. Kerber has battled valiantly into the fourth round but i’m not sold on her current form. I feel like if Pavs can execute, she will force Kerber on the defensive. I’m feeling surprisingly confident with this choice which immediately makes me wary!

Anett Kontaveit vs. Iga Swiatek: The winner of this match will be a first time Slam quarter-finalist! Kontaveit was sensational against Belinda Bencic in the last round but it doesn’t automatically mean she’ll produce the same level in the next round. Swiatek is a star and has had a great tournament. She’s a future top 5 player IMO. She did say in her last presser that she’s feeling tired and Kontaveit won their only previous encounter on tour. I can understand Kontaveit as the favourite and i’m actually rooting for her in this match, but she does make me nervous and goes in with a bit more pressure/expectation on her shoulders.

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10 thoughts on “Australian Open 2020, Day 7 Review: Jabeur & Kenin’s best Slam result, Barty-Kvitova QF rematch

  1. Barty – Riske : now THAT was tennis ! The way Riske tried to crack the backhand of Barty, and Barty slowing down the game with her razor sharp slice ! And then these incredible forehands in the corner of Riske. Net points, too, so this was very complete tennis. About Mertens : unlike Halep she hasnโ€™t been tested this year by a top 20 player (Halep lost clearly to Sabalenka in Adelaide) – but she lost two quarter final matches in relatively small tournaments. Halep, however, was already been told to be at risk to Mertens in Madrid, 2018, but then Mertens had the flu. In the final of Doha Halep was overtired, after energy consuming Fed Cup against Pliskova and no time to recuperate. This is not going to be a piece of cake for Halep, I expect a three setter, and it will be a serious test for Halep if she can take and hold the momentum in a match, and not get frustrated. The same goes for Bertens in my opinion.
    I didnโ€™t get to see any of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova nor Angelique Kerber this year, but this will surely be a battle between an attacker and a counter puncher.

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  2. l’m interested to know if anyone really finds this set of semi-finalists that surprising, Ash Barty v Sofia Kenin and Muguruza v Halep. Seems to me like a reasonably well deserved competitive group.

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  3. Well All these girls are playing at their best, Muguruza def two top 10 players. Ash being number player in the world showing how to lead it like a champ. Halep is having quite some result winning all in straight sets, And Sofia kenin showing the world what she is made of and being a fearless competitor. Any possible final combination would be just amazing . Although i am rooting for Halep vs Ash and wishing halep to win it all ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Yes, I think Simona deserves this one after coming heartbreakingly close in 2018 (the year she lost to Caroline in the final after the hardest run I’ve ever seen in a slam) and ending up in hospital with heat exhaustion as a result.

      All four semi-finalists are playing very well though and it’s hard to pick a winner. I was rooting for Pavs to make the semis but Garbine unquestionably was the better player.

      Nastia to me is one of the “nearly girls” of tennis – she seems to have all the tools to win but somehow never quite gets over the line in big tournaments. Maybe she’s just a casualty of the amount of depth in the women’s game at the moment.

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      • Halep making all these Slam finals is a surprise to me, honestly! She’s a super competitor and I love her fight, but usually this type of player struggles make deep runs in the biggest events. If she beats Muguruza this will be her *sixth* final!

        I’m happy with any of the four semi finalists winning the title, although I think I would slightly prefer Ash to win, with it being her home Slam and her being world #1.

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    • Did you ever watch her play? The drive in her eyes and motivation to be the best separates her from all the rest. If she had a good rivalry with any player she would have won even more. But she is the only consistent player since 2013 to perform at her pinnacle each year.

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      • I agree with Micjy. I think I saw it on Tennis Forum last year that someone had gone to see players practicing at Wimbledon and the one player who was out there practicing every day, rain or shine, was Simona. She constantly pushes and pushes herself to be the best she can be at her sport and is very hard on herself; she beats herself up for mistakes that other players would let go.

        Apart from that, she’s very fit and chases down nearly everything her opponents can throw at her, and is almost metronomically accurate with her shots. Her match against Anett Kontaveit yesterday was a case in point; Anett didn’t really do a lot wrong, but Simona nearly always managed to get to her shots and was usually the one to get the last ball back in every rally.

        Having said all that; I have to say that she doesn’t have Aga Radwanska’s immense repertoire of shots, which I miss on the tour now, but maybe she doesn’t really need it as she usually manages to get the job done with the range of shots she does have. I think she still has a problem too with coming into the net and I think she could be beaten by a really good drop shotter (like Andreescu) who wouldn’t let her stay back in the rallies.

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      • Of course I’ve watched her play. Was there any need to be rude? I was perfectly respectful in what I said. I did say I loved her fight and spirit. Why are some of you die-hard Halep fans so combative?

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  4. Letsplay, your prediction just came true ! I am amazed by the way Halep improves herself in many ways and worked her way into the semi finals. A very solid performance from the agressive baseliner ! She once described herself as a tennis player who has many bumps, this is getting to be another very positive bump and it seems that her preparation in Dubai is paying off in Melbourne. But what about tomorrow, with temperatures above 35C ?? I am very curious what you all think of the semi final matches tomorrow. My predictions are a win for Barty and a win for Muguruza … Barty can play around with any opponent and has a lot of patience, Muguruza’s service is just too good to get a solid return to.

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