Monday, January 23, 2017

AO 2017 (R4): Bottom half quarter-finals set at Melbourne Park

In the 8th day of the tournament were set the bottom half quarter-finals matches:

Serena Williams overcame the intriguing Barbora Zahlavova Strycova to complete a dramatic 7-5 6-4 win in one hour and 46 minutes. 

The American started really well the tournament by passing the first two tests in the early rounds and looked to keep her form. The Czech proved to be another tough one and she had to work much harder to get the win. It was a battle, where the players struggled with their rhythm and made an overall of 60 unforced errors. 

The inaugural set featured 7 breaks and Serena was the player who took the decisive one and got a one set lead on the scoreboard. In the second, Williams looked more confident and went more for her shots breaking the serve and from there Strycova couldn´t escape of the defeat.  

"I feel like it was really good for me to win on probably not my best day, which is always good. Because sometimes you rely on one shot and if it goes off, and then, like, what happens now? It was really good for me to almost lose that so I know my other game is going pretty good, too."  

Quarter-final: Serena Williams (2) vs Johanna Konta (9)

Johanna Konta cruised easily Ekaterina Makarova 6-1 6-4 to advance to the quarter-finals of the tournament. For the Russian, Australian Open is her most successful Grand Slam, where she made the semifinals back in 2015. 

Despite not being in her best form, she managed again to get to the 4th round, but this time against the on fire Brit the court lines haven´t been in her favor. With her deep and strong strokes, Konta found the lines and the corners to secure the first set of the contest. 

In the second, Makarova started to play much better, proving why the Aussie Open is her favorite Slam and took a 4-1 lead. But she couldn´t keep the rhythm more and the 9th seed came back immediately winning the next 5 games to take the win in one hour and 9 minutes.

"I don't think I did too much wrong there. It was just a slight shift in momentum and she started playing better. I'm happy I was able to then hang in there in that set. I trusted in the system that I was bringing to the court and what I was trying to achieve out there against her. I trusted in that, and so, I'm happy to have come through."        

⭅⭅⭅⭅⭅⭅⭅⭅⭅⭅⭅⭅⭅          ⭆⭆⭆⭆⭆⭆⭆⭆⭆⭆⭆⭆⭆

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni keeps her dream alive and continues her stellar route by dispatching Jennifer Brady 6-4 6-2 in one hour and 11 minutes. Coming into this tournament, Lucic has won only one match in 19 appearances and now she has four in a row. 

Being known for knocking out big tennis names on big stages, she did once again in the second round by sending home the world nº3 Aga Radwanska. Today she faced a totally unexperienced player, the qualifier Brady that can be tricky for this round of the competition. 

The experience was the key to the contest, as the 34-year-old took the only break in the first set to grab it. In the second, Baroni delivered her powerful game from the baseline and closed the match with an overall of 35 winners. 

"It feel so much better now to reach the quarterfinals. It's incredible now. I mean, back when I was a teenager it was kind of expected of me and it was normal. I won a lot as a junior. Then I won a lot as soon as I started playing pro. It was kind of normal. It was normal to win tournaments, normal to win big matches and go far. I mean, it was incredible, of course, but it was more normal. But now it's been so long, it's extra fun, it's extra special, for sure."

Quarter-final: Mirjana Lucic-Baroni vs Karolina Pliskova (5)

Karolina Pliskova dismissed the home favorite Daria Gavrilova 6-3 6-3 to make her first quarter-finals on Australian soil. After the tough win in the previous round, the Czech recovered in time for the battle against one of the most tenacious players on tour. 

Playing much better than in the early rounds, Pliskova was in control during the whole match, blasting 27 winners. Also helped by her gun nº1, her powerful serve, she hit 12 aces and won 81% of the points on her first one. 

The local favorite gave her best but, against this stats, she couldn't do much more and accepted the defeat after one hour and 13 minutes under the closed roof on Rod Laver Arena.

"I'm definitely happy about this because the match I played against Ostapenko took up a lot of my energy. I felt a little bit tired yesterday, even today too. Definitely happy to be through this one. I have a day off tomorrow, and that's definitely a good thing. With the roof closed, everything was like little bit different, I felt. Even though I didn't feel my game that good, I still think was like solid. I served well when I needed to, but not as the last match. It's a win, so I'm happy about it."

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