The semi-finals of the 2020 Australian Open are all set for Thursday! This post reviews Tuesday and Wednesday’s quarter-finals. It was a shame I didn’t have time to write a post on Monday as I thought the tennis was brilliant. Pavs-Kerber was a sensational match, Kontaveit-Swiatek was gripping and Halep-Mertens was fun too! Read on for a review of the quarter-finals…
Top stories 📚
1. Barty continues recent dominance over Kvitova
Ash Barty reversed her quarter-final loss at last year’s Australian Open to Petra Kvitova with a 7-6(6) 6-2 victory. It was Barty’s fourth consecutive win over Kvitova since that Melbourne meeting. The first set could have gone either way and Kvitova had plenty of opportunities. The Czech player scored the first break of the match with a blistering return game but couldn’t consolidate. Kvitova then missed five break points at 3-3 and had a set point in the ensuing tiebreak.
Barty did such a great job at handling the Kvitova barrage. Barty’s slice has been very effective this tournament and while she didn’t implement it as much in this match, when she did, it helped her win some key points. After edging the tight opener, Barty came through the second set reasonably comfortably, helped by a higher percentage (70%) of first serves in.
Barty has handled the hometown expectation remarkably well at this tournament. She’s so grounded and measured in press, and has played a great tournament up till now. I have so much respect for Ash.
2. Kenin reaches first Slam SF
In a battle of first time Slam quarter-finalists, Sofia Kenin beat Ons Jabeur, 6-4 6-4. Since the exits of Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams, Kenin has been the highest seed remaining in this second quarter and the strong favourite to prevail. She snapped up the opportunity after playing another solid, professsional match.
Kenin kept her unforced error count low and continued her good serving from the Gauff match as she landed 72% of first serves in. Kenin was redirecting the ball and doing it particularly well after the first serve. Jabeur made reference to it in her press conference that she had to do a lot of running. Jabeur had her chances, particularly in the second set with three break points at 3-2, but couldn’t execute in the key moments. Still, a huge result for Ons and one of the memorable storylines of this tournament.
Kenin is knocking on the door of the top 10 and could do it next week. When she does, I think she’ll stay there for a long time, following in the footsteps of Wozniacki, Kerber and Svitolina. I feel like her game sits somewhere in the middle between a counter-puncher and aggressive player. Kenin can go after her shots, but she’s also a great mover and can track lots of ball down, and has variety with the drop shots. As mentioned hundreds of times before, it’s her mentality that really sets her apart from the rest.
3. Halep in sensational form
Simona Halep needed just 53 minutes to get past first time Slam quarter-finalist, Anett Kontaveit, 6-1 6-1. When I saw the scoreline I thought, oh Anett! Actually watching back, I thought Kontaveit played an OK match. She tried to be aggressive, even showing some willingness to come forward and close points, but she was up against it.
This was an awesome display from Halep who was focused, aggressive and utterly relentless. Halep served superbly with great placement and her groundstrokes were deep and heavy, not allowing Kontaveit to dictate. Halep wasn’t really talked about much pre-tournament as she had some dangerous early match-ups on the cards against Brady and Danielle Collins, the latter which never materialised. Halep is the only player remaining not to have lost a set.
4. Muguruza’s first hard court Slam SF
Garbiñe Muguruza’s resurgence continued as she reached her first Australian Open semi-final with a 7-5 6-3 victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. I didn’t enjoy this match to be honest. I could feel from the beginning that Pavs was a bit tight (understandably) and she was not the free-flowing player from the past few rounds. Still, it was Pavs who was twice up a break in the first set. Her serve let her down when she most needed it as she produced three double faults at *5-6.
Pavs has been the aggressor in all of her matches but I thought Muguruza had the upper hand in this clash. The serve was a key factor in this match and Muguruza became stronger behind it as the match wore on. Muguruza going deep at a Slam will never surprise me because of her history. I guess considering how she started the tournament, under-the-weather and getting bageled by Shelby Rogers, it’s been quite a turnaround!
Super stat 🔢
Interesting how five of the eight Slam semi newbies at the Australian Open have been American!
Hot shot 🔥
Monday’s quarter-finals produced two wonderful exchanges of sportswomanship at the net.
Favourite snap 📸
Great shot of Kenin by Jimmie48 Tennis.
Press highlight 📰
That coma question second up was appalling 😱. Muguruza holds back a lot more in press these days. I’d love to hear more about her Kilimanjaro experience.
Recommended media 📺
Loved Barty’s post-match interview with Casey Dellacqua and Jim Courier.
SF previews 🤔
Ash Barty vs. Sofia Kenin: This will be Barty and Kenin’s sixth meeting in the last two years. Barty leads Kenin, 4-1 in their H2H. Kenin’s lone win came in Canada last year, 6-7(5) 6-3 6-4. It is worth noting that was Barty’s first match post-Wimbledon. I think Barty’s slice and point construction has generally unsettled Kenin.
Barty has a bit more Slam experience but equally more expectation. She’s handled it brilliantly up to now but she will be fully aware that she’s the clear favourite and expected to win. I really like Kenin and she’s achieved above and beyond this tournament so hopefully can go out swinging. Barty for the win. I think Kenin will get a set.
Simona Halep vs. Garbiñe Muguruza: We haven’t seen much of this match-up recently but it is one that fascinates me. Their recent meetings have all been at the latter stages of tournaments with Halep beating Muguruza most recently in the French Open semi-finals, 6-1 6-4, en route to the title.
Halep has been fantastic in the last two rounds. Muguruza has beaten an impressive list of names although I felt Svitolina, Bertens and Pavs were all below par. I was most impressed by Muguruza’s victory over Tomljanovic which remains one of my favourite matches of the tournament. Halep the clear favourite IMO but wondering how she reacts to the challenge as surely Muguruza will be her toughest match yet?