Half the semi-final field is set – and so far, so good for the favourites. Now it’s time to lock-in the other side of the draw, and, well… this one might be a little harder to figure out.

At least in three of the four matches, you could make a compelling case for any of the six players. Big names and big games abound, and even for the quarterfinal stage of a major, that makes this crop particularly exciting.

Read on for a look at all the quarterfinal action on Wednesday in Melbourne:

(All matches on Rod Laver Arena)

From 11:00am AEDT:

Anett Kontaveit (LAT) [28] v Simona Halep (ROU) [4]

For Anett Kontaveit, it has to be exciting to be in her first major quarterfinal, although that excitement is likely to subside when she sees Simona Halep across the net from her. A 2018 AO finalist, Halep is yet to drop a set against the Estonian in two meetings, and that’s unlikely to change here. The harsh truth is that Halep just does what Kontaveit does better – putting balls in play, chasing everything down, making things awkward for her opponents – while also having the ability to play bigger when necessary. If there’s any saving grace for Kontaveit, it’s that Halep can go off-kilter, and if the former is her solid self, maybe she takes advantage of a very off day. I wouldn’t bet on it, though.

Not before 12:30pm:

Garbine Muguruza (ESP) v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) [30]

Two women who have reached and fallen at the AO quarterfinal stage before, one of Garbine Muguruza and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is about to finally make a breakthrough in 2020. A rivalry Muguruza leads 4-1, with her only loss coming by way of second set retirement, the Spaniard is the clear favourite here, although it’s fair to suggest this is Pavlyuchenkova at her most dangerous, given her more impressive collection of scalps so far this tournament. If the Russian is to add another here, she’ll need to negate Muguruza’s power advantage by playing ambitious angles and following them in with approaches to net, stopping the Spaniard from getting her feet set at the baseline. If Pavlyuchenkova fails to do that consistently, Muguruza will simply break her down, but at least for the neutral, it should be a fun match with plenty of offensive tennis regardless.

Not before 2:30pm:

Stan Wawrinka (SUI) [15] v Alexander Zverev (GER) [7]

Proving once again that tennis has some of the best scriptwriters in the business, Sascha Zverev plays for a spot in his first major semi-final against the man he beat for his first career title, Stan Wawrinka. A very hard match to forecast, Zverev comes in the bookies favourite due to both his 2-0 lead in the head-to-head, and his newfound confidence on serve, but with both those wins coming in three-setters, it’s hard to put too much stock in them – as we all know, Stan at the majors is a different, well… stanimal. With that in mind, I’d give the slight edge towards Wawrinka, but in any case, watching these two take turns trying to batter the other off the baseline should make for a thoroughly entertaining five sets.

From 7:30pm:

Rafael Nadal (ESP) [1] v Dominic Thiem (AUT) [5]

If you like your tennis with a healthy dose of blunt-force trauma, boy, is Rafa Nadal v Dominic Thiem the match for you. Two guys who can’t help but wallop the ball, they treated us to one of the all-time great grand slam matches at the 2018 US Open, which Nadal won 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7, 7-6, and the hope is that we get something similar here. That said, if Thiem is to change the end result, he can’t just rely on redlining it for five sets, and will have to do a better job pinning Nadal back with consistent depth and counterattacking the Spaniard’s tried-and-true tactic of looping balls to the one-handed backhand. Anything less and Nadal should eke it out – just probably not before we get a match of the tournament contender.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here