Tsitsipas, Collins, Swiatek into Australian Open semis – Daily Breeze


By JOHN PYE AP Sports Writer

MELBOURNE, Australia — Stefanos Tsitsipas maintained his perfect record in Grand Slam quarterfinals, beating 11th-seeded Jannik Sinner, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2, on Wednesday (Tuesday night PT) to reach the last four of the Australian Open.

The 23-year-old, fourth-ranked Tsitsipas improved to 5-0 at this stage of a major. It’s the semifinals he’s yet to master, winning just one – at Roland Garros last year – from four so far.

He’ll next player either Daniil Medvedev, who made his Grand Slam breakthrough when he won last year’s U.S. Open title, or No. 9 Felix Auger-Aliassime. No. 2 Medvedev and Auger-Aliassime were meeting later Wednesday in a night match and Auger-Aliassime won the first two sets, 7-6 (4), 6-3.

Tsitsipas never faced a break point and converted all four he got on Sinner’s serve in the match that lasted just over two hours, considerably less than his five-set fourth-round win over American Taylor Fritz.

The only real delay came from a weather disruption, when a late afternoon storm meant the roof over Rod Laver Arena had to be closed when the Greek star was already up a set and a break.

“I knew I was heading toward the right direction,” Tsitsipas said. “The conditions might have changed a little bit after the roof was closed – slightly faster, not as bouncy as before. I tried to adapt to the new conditions, and it just worked.”

Dozens of ball kids and staff used towels to soak up water on the court during the 15-minute break.

The temperature dropped from the highs of the afternoon, when Iga Swiatek took three hours in the afternoon heat to beat 36-year-old Kaia Kanepi, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3, with the payoff being a spot in the semifinals against American Danielle Collins.

“This match was crazy,” the 20-year-old, 2020 French Open winner said. “First set I think my mistake was I had so many break points, I felt like I missed my chances. In the second set … I felt like she’s playing so fast that I can’t be tight. I had to finish my forehands.”

The temperature reached 97 degrees on Day 10, continuing a week of hot weather.

Collins won the opening match before the heat peaked, swinging it in her favor with a key service break in the final game of the opening set on her way to a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Alize Cornet.

No. 115-ranked Kanepi was coming off a three-set upset victory over second-ranked Aryna Sabalenka and took the match to Swiatek, who saved nine set points before losing the first set.

Swiatek rallied in the second, exchanging service breaks twice before winning it in a tiebreaker.

After getting on top in the third set, Swiatek was broken in the eighth game when she was serving for the match. She eventually clinched on Kanepi’s serve, scrambling to stay in the last point until the Estonian player sent a forehand wide.

After the first three quarterfinals were decided in straight sets – Ash Barty beat American Jessica Pegula and American Madison Keys beat French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova on Tuesday – the last one went all the way.

As she left the court, Swiatek wrote on the TV camera lens: “Thank you for the support. # Tired.”

Collins’ win means there are two Americans in the last four. Keys, the 2017 U.S. Open runner-up, will play reigning Wimbledon and 2019 French Open winner Barty.

Swiatek is the only one of the four players in the Australian Open semis for the first time. Collins lost to Petra Kvitova in the semifinals here in 2019, which remains her best run to date. Keys lost to Serena Williams in 2015 and Barty lost a semifinal final in 2020 to eventual champion Sofia Kenin.

Collins underwent surgery last year to treat endometriosis, a condition that had caused her severe pain during tournaments in 2021.

“It feels incredible, especially after some of the health challenges I’ve had,” Collins said. “To be able to get back to this level and be able to compete like the way I have been … is so rewarding.

“I’ve had some great matches along the way at this tournament … really happy about how I’m feeling physically and mentally.”

For Cornet, the loss ended a career-best run. The quarterfinal was her first in 63 Grand Slam main-draw appearances. The WTA predicts that the 32-year-old Cornet should return to the top 50.

Cornet had anticipated an aggressive game strategy from Collins, but the power in the ground strokes was “even more than what I expected.”

“I felt out of breath all the time. I couldn’t, like, play my game,” Cornet said. “She just never let me do it, never gave me the time.”

In the late men’s quarterfinal played Tuesday (overnight PT), Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini became the first Italian man to reach the Australian Open semifinals when he held on to beat No. 17 Gael Monfils, 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 3-6, 6-2. Berrettini next faces 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal.

CENTER OF ATTENTION

Medvedev was granted his wish for his quarterfinal against young Canadian Auger-Aliassime when it was scheduled as the marquee night match at Rod Laver Arena (the main show court) on Wednesday.

Medvedev wasn’t happy that he had to play successive rounds on the adjoining and lower-profile Margaret Court Arena, particularly the fourth round against serve-and-volley specialist Maxime Cressy (UCLA).

“What should I do to play on center courts in Grand Slams, because I won the last Grand Slam? I mean, I’m highest seed here and to play against Maxime would be easier on Rod Laver, more space,” he said. “Same in Wimbledon, I haven’t even played on Centre because I don’t count the fifth set which I played after the rain after being put on Court 2.”

Medvedev is the highest seed after defending champion Novak Djokovic was deported for failing to meet Australia’s strict COVID-19 vaccination requirements. He said he resisted the temptation to request matches on Rod Laver.

“Yeah, I usually don’t do it, because I don’t want to put pressure or anything on anybody,” he said. “I rarely ask for the time or the court.

“I don’t really want to be the guy who asks every time, ‘Put me on Rod Laver or I’m gonna be unhappy.’”

DOUBLE Ks ADVANCE WITH STYLE

Nick Kyrgios handed over a racket as a sympathetic gift for accidentally hitting a young fan and the umpire left her chair to check on the boy’s condition.

And that was all in the opening few games of the latest version of tennis played in a prized-fight atmosphere in the men’s doubles competition.

Roared on by a capacity 5,000 spectators, Kyrgios and fellow Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis – the team dubbed the Special Ks – beat another seeded pair to advance to the semifinals.

After entering on a wild card, the pair have made Melbourne Park’s new stadium their own cauldron. On Tuesday, they fired a combined 25 aces to beat the sixth-seeded team of Tim Puetz and Michael Venus, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.

“I’m not finished. I want to win this,” Kyrgios told the crowd. “Unreal scenes. When we were young growing up, this (Melbourne Park) is where we started.”

It was the third consecutive victory against seeded teams, and Kokkinakis suggested to tournament director Craig Tiley that their next match be scheduled on the same court where spectators can watch matches for the cost of a ground pass rather than a stadium ticket.

“When we walk through the tunnel (onto court), there’s no feeling like it. We don’t want to be anywhere else, this is perfect,” he said. “Hopefully, Craig is watching and puts us out on this court.”

With Kokkinakis serving in the fourth game, Kyrgios swatted a loose ball into the court surface and the ball bounced four rows into the stand and struck a young boy in the chest.

As the momentarily shocked young fan was comforted by his mother, experienced umpire Eva Asderaki-Moore left her chair to check that he was not injured. Kyrgios trotted to his bag, grabbed a spare racket and handed it up to the boy.

The Special Ks are attracting a lot of attention. So much that the host TV broadcaster regularly crossed from coverage of the Rafael Nadal vs. Denis Shapovalov quarterfinal in the main stadium to check on the progress of this doubles match.

To reach the final, Kyrgios and Kokkinakis must get past third-seeded Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos.



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