Danil Medvedev faces off against Felix Auger Aliassime and Stefanos Tsitsipas plays against Jannik SInner in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. Damien Kayat previews.
2022 ATP Tour
Grand Slam Tennis
Selected Quarterfinals- 26th January
Danil Medvedev 1/7 | Felix Auger Aliassime 46/10
Danil Medvedev has extended his Grand Slam winning streak to eleven matches, continuing the form that brought him victory at last year’s US Open. Medvedev would have been one of the favourites to win this week even prior to Djokovic’s withdrawal.
The Serbian’s melodramatic departure has only reinforced the notion that the Russian is the one to beat. Lest we forget, Medvedev was also a beaten finalist in last year’s Aussie Open.
Medvedev has been excellent in this year’s event, negotiating an extremely tricky 2nd round encounter against Aussie firebrand Nick Kyrgios. He had some issues against Maxime Cressey last time out, occasionally struggling with the American’s antiquated serve-and-volley approach.
He actually had to apologize to the American after accusing him of being ‘so boring’. But all in all, Medvedev has looked quite composed in the face of his favourite status this week.
Felix Auger Aliassime is something of an enigma. He has all the talent in the world but none of the self-belief. But there have been some really encouraging signs for the Canadian of late.
I actually picked him as one of my pre-tournament dark horses. I felt that his integral role in Canada’s ATP Cup success will have given him a taste of the winning culture he craves.
Beyond that, he has grown immeasurably as a Grand Slam player since Toni Nadal joined his coaching staff. This is his 3rd consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal (he reached the semi-finals of last year’s US Open).
Prior to last year’s Wimbledon Championships, he had never gone beyond the 4th round of a Slam. The Canadian has been fairly erratic this year, mixing in straightforward victories with nail-biting slugfests.
But I was extremely impressed when he came through the Marin Cilic test last time out. He won an incredible 86% of his first serves, serving 22 aces in the process. He also managed to make breakthroughs on Cilic’s powerful serve. This should come in handy against the big-serving Russian.
Verdict: Medvedev to win in straight sets at 88/100
I know I have been hyping up Aliassime’s chances this week. But Medvedev is really a nightmare opponent for the Canadian. The Russian leads the head-to-head 3-0. That includes a real spanking at this year’s ATP Cup. Medvedev just has a knack of using player’s power against them. His defensive abilities allow him to frustrate aggressive players into going for too much. I expect Aliassime to rack up plenty of unforced errors.
Stefanos Tsitsipas 12/10 | Jannik Sinner 13/20
I have to admit, I never really fancied either of these players coming into this year’s Aussie Open. Tsitsipas has looked a shadow of himself over the past six months.
His French Open final capitulation against Djokovic left some considerable mental scarring (he failed to go beyond the 3rd round of Wimbledon and the US Open last year).
But he has looked supremely motivated this week, likely emboldened by the withdrawal of Djokovic and later the defeat of Alex Zverev. But it all looked like it was about to fall apart as he ran into the power-hitting of Taylor Fritz.
Honestly, he seemed to wilt somewhat against Fritz’s devastating forehand. But the two-time Aussie Open semi-finalist figured him out, using his high tennis IQ to outmanoeuvre the American.
The Greek will have a huge physical hurdle to overcome against a man who has spent far less time on court.
Jannik Sinner has absolutely breezed through this year’s draw, benefitting from some fairly soft matches along the way. He is undefeated this year after winning his three singles matches at the ATP Cup.
Granted, all three of those victories came against unfancied opponents. But winning is still winning. The only seeded player he has faced thus far is 31st seed Aussie Alex de Minaur.
Sinner enjoyed a fantastic 2021 campaign, winning four titles along the way. But this will be just his 2nd Grand Slam quarterfinal since the 2020 French Open. He has largely underwhelmed on the biggest stage, often appearing to physically falter in the more gruelling events.
But a run to last year’s Indian Wells final does indicate that he can compete at an elevated level.
Verdict: Tsitsipas to win in four at 33/10
Tsitsipas leads the head-to-head with Sinner 2-1. However, they have never met on any other surface than clay. I know there is a temptation to lean towards Sinner in the wake of Tsitsipas’ marathon five-set match with Fritz. But I just feel like Sinner is the Diet Coke version of Tsitsipas. The Greek just does everything a little bit better. I can’t see him blowing this chance at a 4th Grand Slam semi-final.