2021 Australian Open: Review Of The Pre-Quarterfinals

Last year’s beaten finalist and the reigning U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem of Austria has been bundled out of the tournament by the 29 year old Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov. Only two days after winning the most entertaining match of the tournament against the Australian Nick Kyrgios, Thiem looked drained and surprisingly lost 4-6,4-6,0-6 to the 2017 semi finalist Dimitrov, seeded 18th. Novak Djokovic once again dropped a set against Milos Raonic of Canada before coming through 7-6(4),4-6,6-1,6-4 in his quest for a record extending ninth title in Melbourne.

The third seeded Thiem, who had dropped the first two sets to Nick Kyrgios on Friday in front of a raucous crowd before rallying to beat the local hope in five sets, succumbed miserably in a lop sided third set which Dimitrov won in only 21 minutes without dropping a game. Thiem had breaks of serve in both the opening two sets but Dimitrov fought back and now goes on to play the Russian Qualifier Aslan Karatsev who rallied after dropping the first two sets to the 20th seeded Felix Auger-Alliasime of Canada, 3-6,1-6,6-3,6-3,6-4.

Also advancing on Sunday was the sixth seeded German Alexander Zverev, the beaten finalist last year in New York, who took out the 23rd seeded Dusan Lajovic of Serbia 6-4,7-6(5),6-3. The fourth seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev easily outlasted the American Mackenzie McDonald who is playing on protected ranking. Medvedev who was taken to five sets by Fillip Krajinovic of Serbia in the previous round, won 6-4,6-2,6-3. He next plays seventh seeded Russian Andrey Rublev who advanced after Casper Ruud of Norway retired after losing the first two sets. Rublev led 6-2,7-6(3).

Both Medvedev and Rublev are unbeaten in 2021 and the duo led Russia to a win at the ATP Cup just 10 days ago. The two had also clashed in the quarter final in New York where Medvedev improved his career head to head against Rublev 3-0. This ensures atleast one Russian reaches the last four at the opening Grand Slam of the year. They have been joined by the 114th ranked Russian Aslan Karatsev who faces Dimitrov next.

Rafael Nadal looks in imperious form after yet another straight sets win, his fourth in as many matches at this year’s Open after routing the fiery sixteenth seeded Italian Fabio Fognini 6-3,6-4,6-2 to keep alive his hopes of becoming the only player in Open Era to win all four majors at least twice. He next faces Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece who advances after the Italian Matteo Berrettini conceded a walkover due to a rib injury.

Following is the quarter final line up with my pick mentioned first:-

Novak Djokovic (1) v. Alexander Zverev (6) ; Djokovic leads 5-2.
Grigor Dimitrov (18) v. Aslan Karatsev (Q).
Daniil Medvedev (4) v. Andrey Rublev (7); Medvedev leads 3-0
Rafael Nadal (2) v. Stefanos Tsitsipas (5); Nadal leads 6-1

The line up for the women’s singles too has been set as Ashley Barty of Australia ended the hopes of the American Shelby Rogers with a 6-3,6-4 win and next takes on Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic beat the Belgian Elise Mertens 7-6(5),7-5 on Monday. In an all American match up Jennifer Brady takes on Jessica Pegula on Wednesday. Brady beat the Serb Donna Vekic 6-1,7-5, while the unheralded Pegula upset the fifth seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 6-4,3-6,6-3.

In the top half of the draw the second seeded Simona Halep of Romania beat the French Open champion Iga Swiatek 3-6,6-1,6-4 and now faces the American Serena Williams who continues her quest for an elusive record equaling 24th major title with a 6-4,2-6,6-4 win against Arnya Sabalenka of Belarus. The 2019 champion Naomi Osaka best the former Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza in a tightly contested 4-6,6-4,7-5 win. She plays Su-Wei Hsieh of Chinese Taipei who Marketa Vondrouskova of the Czech Republic 6-4,6-2.

– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: sportzcosmos@gmail.com]

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