Thursday, February 9, 2023

Djokovic romps on towards 10th Australian title, Linette stuns Pliskova

Novak Djokovic continued making his quest for a record-extending 10th Australian Open title look like a walk in the park by demolishing Andrey Rublev to reach the last four on Wednesday.
The Serb, still wearing a thigh strapping but looking supreme, raced to a 6-1 6-2 6-4 victory with a performance that would have been uncomfortable viewing for American Tommy Paul.
Unseeded Paul won 7-6(6) 6-3 5-7 6-4 in an All-American quarter-final clash against 20-year-old Ben Shelton to advance to the semi-finals of a major for the first time.
A disbelieving Magda Linette continued her dream Australian Open run by stunning former world number one Karolina Pliskova to set up a semi-final against Aryna Sabalenka.
Fifth seed Sabalenka, the only top-10 seed left in the women’s draw, earned her spot in the semi-finals by outmuscling Donna Vekic 6-3 6-2 in a ferocious battle of big hitters on a baking Rod Laver Arena.
Djokovic is making a mockery of the theory that the second week of Grand Slam tournaments get tougher.
In the last 16 he dropped five games against home hope Alex de Minaur and he was just as ruthless against Rublev as he made it 25 successive wins in succession at the Australian Open. Fifth seed Rublev has now lost all seven Grand Slam quarter-finals which he contested.
Paul is only the third active American man to reach a Grand Slam semi-final, joining John Isner (2018 Wimbledon) and Frances Tiafoe (2022 U.S. Open) but will have to register a seismic shock if he is to go any further.
Paul, the first American man to reach the semi-finals in Melbourne since Andy Roddick in 2009, withstood some ferocious serving from Shelton who banged down 24 aces.
Paul is not the only unseeded player in to the semis.
The unheralded Linette, ranked 45th in the world, played wonderfully controlled tennis to wrap up a thoroughly deserved 6-3 7-5 victory over powerful Czech Pliskova.
Linette, who had never been beyond the third round at a Grand Slam and had been expected to play second fiddle to fellow Pole Iga Swiatek at Melbourne Park, will now face Sabalenka on Thursday to decide who meets either Victoria Azarenka or Elena Rybakina in the final.

Sania-Rohan pair sails into mixed doubles final

Indian ace Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna on Tuesday soared into the final of the Australian Open 2023 mixed doubles event on Wednesday, beating third seed American-British pair Desirae Krawczyk and Neal Skupski in the semifinals.
Sania and Bopanna registered a 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 10-6 upset win over two-time Wimbledon champion pair Desirae-Skupski.
The Indian duo will face the winner of the match between Australia’s Olivia Gadecki and Marc Polmans and the Brazilian pair of Luisa Stefani and Rafael Matos.
This will be the first time in five years that a Grand Slam final will have Indian representation. Bopanna had made the Australian Open mixed doubles final with Hungary’s Timea Babos in 2018 but ended up on the losing side.
Sania is playing her last major as the six-time Grand Slam champion and earlier this month announced that she will retire from professional tennis at Dubai Tennis Championships, a WTA 1000 event, which begins on February 19.
She has six major titles in doubles discipline — three in women’s doubles and as many as in mixed doubles — with her maiden triumph coming in 2009 when she partnered Mahesh Bhupathi to clinch the Australian Open mixed doubles title.

Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna
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