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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Tuesday January 25, 2022

 
Auger-Aliassime

Quarterfinal action winds down in Melbourne on Day 10 - here's what we'll be watching.

Photo Source: Getty

Quarterfinal action winds down on Wednesday in Melbourne as the bottom half of both the men’s and women’s singles draws will take to Rod Laver Arena.

Tennis Express

Here’s a glance at the matchups.

Danielle Collins v Alizé Cornet | First Meeting

First up on Rod Laver Arena it’s a battle of two of the most demonstrative firecrackers on the WTA Tour – for a spot in the semis! Collins and Cornet have earned the respect of the fans with their work in Melbourne, as both have had to win back-to-back three-setters to reach the quarterfinals.

Cornet, playing in her 60th straight major, and 63rd overall, smashed the record for most women’s singles main draws played at the majors before reaching a maiden quarterfinal. It used to be 45, but now Cornet, one of the WTA’s legendary iron women, is also the picture of perseverance.

“I have only nice words about her, because I like her on court, how she's fighting,” Halep said after falling to Cornet in the balmy heat on Day 8. “She deserves what is happening to her now. She work hard all the time, and, yeah, I wish her good luck. I really want her to make this dream coming true. Yeah, I will support her.”

Many feel similarly about Collins, the No.27 seed who topped Elise Mertens in her last match to reach the last eight.

Even Cornet, for example.

“That could be somewhat drama, this match for sure,” Cornet predicted. “I mean, I see how she is on the court. She's like a lion. Oh, my God, she impresses me a little bit because she's like so intense, I'm intense too but I think she's next-level intense. She's hitting so hard. I mean, this is going to be a good match. I'm really happy to play against this kind of player.”

Yes, this should be a fiery contest with emotional swings. Get your popcorn ready.

Iga Swiatek v Kaia Kanepi | First Meeting

A classic generational battle between the oldest player left in the draw, Kanepi, at 36, and the youngest, Swiatek, at 20. The Pole will be favored, and deservedly so, as she has been in the business end of the last six majors and on Day 8 overcome a serious hurdle as she fought past hard-hitting Sorana Cirstea.

But Kanepi is playing with nothing to lose after rocking up and knocking off No.2 seed Aryna Sabalenka on Monday night. The Estonian has never been to a Grand Slam semifinal before, nor has she ever faced Swiatek. But she plans to give it her best shot.

“I haven't watched her, I never played her, and I don't know how her ball feels, so we'll see when I play her,” she said. “What I expect is to play good.”

Swiatek is particularly pleased about her level of comfort on hard courts. She feels much more experienced on the surface than she did last year, and that feeling could help her get past Kanepi.

“It means a lot, because, you know, like two years ago I felt like on hard court I'm not able to play my game, and I was always adjusting to what my opponents were doing,” she said. “Right now is different, because I feel like I really developed and I can play more on hard court and I can be more free. Yeah, I'm pretty proud of that.

Jannik Sinner v Stefanos Tsitsipas | Tsitsipas Leads 2-1

It hasn’t taken very long for Italy’s Jannik Sinner to emerge as an elite player and this year it feels like he is already on the cusp of being considered a candidate not just to make it deep at a major, but to win one.

But there are many hurdles in front of him if he wants to do it this week, starting with Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, his opponent in the quarterfinals.

At the start of the tournament it would have been easy to write Tsitsipas off given that he underwent elbow surgery in November and was still experiencing pain when he played at the ATP Cup a few weeks ago. But Tsitsipas, a semifinalist here last year, is in very good form in Melbourne and is also looking like a title contender.

"My recovery was faster than anyone would have thought it would have been. My recovery was very surprising to my doctor,” he said after winning in five sets against Taylor Fritz on Monday. “So far I have been doing what I do best, fight in every single match and give my soul out there.”

Tsitsipas may need to go five sets again against Sinner, and if he’s truly fit, he’ll likely have the edge based on his experience.

Daniil Medvedev v Felix Auger-Aliassime | Medvedev Leads 3-0

Daniil Medvedev really put the screws to Felix Auger-Aliassime when they met at ATP Cup earlier in January, so it will be interesting to see how the Canadian, who should be full of confidence after a great run to the quarterfinals, will turn up against a player who may be in his head a bit.

It was also Medvedev who cruised past Auger-Aliassime at the US Open last year, taking him out in straight sets in the semifinals before he won his first major title.

What can the Canadian do to disrupt the dynamic between the two? And even if he does come up with a game plan, will it be good enough to get him three sets?

At the moment Medvedev is the clear favorite to hoist the trophy, and it’s up to the field to come up with ways to throw him off of his game – easier said than done.

 

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