Monday, January 21, 2019

Australian Open quarterfinals set

The 2019 Australian Open quarterfinals will commence today when two surprise (and unseeded) quarterfinalists compete in Rod Laver Arena. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Danielle Collins very likely not the names we had listed as "possible quarterfinalists," but here they are. Pavlyuchenkova has chosen this tournament to show off the potential we've always known she has, while Collins has emerged more like a tennis bat out of hell (and I mean that in a good way), with her hard, flat hitting and her aggressive attitude.

I don't expect Collins to fade away because of the occasion, and at this point, I'm not even sure that Pavlyuchenkova will fade away. If they both bring their best games, it should be interesting. Collins bossed Angie Kerber around by not letting her in at all. Her Russian opponent, however, is likely to go for making Collins uncomfortable by not getting into rocket exchanges with her.

The night match (which, very sadly, I won't be able to watch) has the potential to be the match of the tournament. 8th seed Petra Kvitova will have her hands full with Ash Barty, who is showing herself to be something of a wonder, with her thoughtful tactics, impressive variety and superb serving. Kvitova can't "go off" in this one--at least, not for long. So far, the two-time Wimbledon champion has been deadly, but we all know that there is more than one Petra. Having a night match will help her because of the drop in temperature.

Tomorrow, the quarterfinals will feature 16th seed and seven-time champion Serena Williams taking on 7th seed Karolina Pliskova. The Long Tall One (or perhaps, the Tall Cool One) was deadly in her round of 16 match against Garbine Muguruza. She will have to bring that same deadliness against Williams, who defeated world number 1 Simona Halep yesterday. I think it's safe to say that this will be a match worth watching.

Finally, 4th seed Naomi Osaka will face off against 6th seed Elina Svitolina. Osaka now plays like a champion, finding ways to get back in when she's down, and doing it with finesse. Svitolina, on the other hand, is a woman on a mission, which makes her a bit scary. Again, this has the potential to be an excellent quarterfinal.

In doubles, top seeds and world number 1 doubles team Barbora Krcjcikova and Katerina Siniakova will play former doubles world number 1 Sam Stosur and Zhang Shuai in today's action. In today's other quarterfinal, Barbora Strycova and Marketa Vondrousova compete against 5th seeds Andreja Klepac and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.

Tomorrow, 7th seeds Chan Hao-Ching and Latisha Chan will play Jennifer Brady and Alison Riske, and Raquel Atawo and Katarina Srebotnik take on 2nd seeds Timea Babos and Kiki Mladenovic.

There are a lot of Czechs in the quarterfinals!

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