Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Semifinals set in Australian Open singles play

Top seed Ash Barty, who has been broken only once and has yet to drop a set, easily advanced to the semifinals on day 9 of the Australian Open when she defeated Jessica Pegula 6-2, 6-0. Also that day, Madison Keys defeated Barbora Krejcikova 6-3, 6-2 in a match that I expected to go three sets. It didn't, presumably because Krejcikova (like others before her) became ill from the intense heat and had trouble doing just about everything.

A commentator made the point that the Czech star, instead of doing some advance training in a very hot climate, chose to remain in the Czech Republic to be with her family and friends, and she paid for it when she was overcome by the heat. I think that this is probably true--but only to a certain extent. There are some human bodies (I know--I have one of them and I live in an intensely hot summer climate) that just can't handle that kind of heat.

This isn't to take anything away from Keys, who has been on fire since she set foot in Melbourne. But it would have been nice to have seen both players in top form.

Yesterday, Danielle Collins advances to the semifinals (for the second time) when she defeated Alize Cornet in straight sets. Cornet made the first set quite competitive, but the second set was all Collins. Cornet, who had made it to the quarterfinals for the first time in 63 tries, said after the match:

"I have eternal respect for the Grand Slam winner because it's such a long way. My God, I have the feeling I'm playing this tournament for a year. I'm so exhausted mentally, physically. When you go all the way and win these freaking seven matches, it's just huge."

And then there was Iga Swiatek, who had to deal with famed giant-killer Kaia Kanepi, who has put on quite a show in Melbourne. Kanepi took the first set 6-4, and Swiatek had to use every trick she had to squeak out a victory in a second set tiebreak. The 2020 French Open champion settled down a bit after that, and committed only two double faults, giving her a total of twelve for the match. The Polish star won the third set 6-3 and advanced to the semifinals, but it took her three hours to do it. And her match point was one of the best I've seen in a while.

Kanepi received huge applause when she left the court. It was deserved. the Estonian player, who is 36 years old, is the only player in history to reach the quarterfinals of every major while being unseeded. Even the Bulgarian Woman of Mystery has yet to achieve that distinction, though--when she returned to the tour in 2020 after a lengthy injury (and then pregnancy) leave--she reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open. That gives her three major quarterfinals as an unseeded player, so stay tuned.

Here is the semifinal draw:

Ash Barty (1) vs. Madison Keys
Danielle Collins (27) vs. Iga Swiatek (7)

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