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 🔢
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 point 🎾
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?!
This was a nice moment between Sonya and Coco after an intense match.
Favourite snap 📸
From yesterday, I love this picture of Elise Mertens!
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Loved this from the WTA Insider Twitter account.
Recommended reading 📚
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 🤔
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.