In the second round of the Australian Open, Denis Istomin, a Wild Card ranked #117, defeatead #2 Novak Djokovic, possibly one of the biggest upsets in the history of Grand Slams.
Andy Murray, #1 in the world, became then the real favorite to win his first Melbourne Slam, with the player who beat him in the Doha’s final already out.
What’s more, Murray’s first three rounds showed consistency, outlasting opponents without losing a single set. The Brit started his journey against Ilia Marchenko, then overcame youngster Andrey Rublev, then faced Sam Querrey in the third round #31 seed.
His 4th round match-up was set against an unseeded player, Mischa Zverev, the elder brother of rising star Sascha – who lost in a tight five-setter to Rafael Nadal in the third round. The German outlasted American #19 seed John Isner in the second round in a tremendous battle of aces and winners that ended 9-7 in the final set, with three of the previous four sets ending with a tiebreak.
It’s hard to believe, though after the #2 seed, even the #1 seed fell under the spell of an unseeded player. Mischa Zverev managed to beat Andy Murray 75 57 62 64, securing a spot is his first ever Slam quarterfinal, where he is going to face Roger Federer, who outlasted Kei Nishikori in five sets. In three and a half hours, Murray and Zverev produced an amazing match, with the Brit hitting 71 winners, and the German hitting 52. Displaying a beautiful game, Zverev managed 118 net approaches during the match!
Mischa Zverev’s previous best performance in a Slam was in 2008, at Wimbledon, which is not surprising, given grass perfectly suits his serve and volley game. He thus reached the quarterfinals in two Masters 1000, in Rome in 2009 – which is his only appearance in the main draw of the tournament – and last year, in Shanghai, where he scared Djokovic, losing a close three-setter after wasting some real opportunities.
After a promising junior career, where Zverev rose to #3 in the world, eventually reaching the semis at the Australian Open, he showed talent and capability with good results in the pro tour, too – aside from the quarterfinals in Rome, he won the doubles in Halle in 2008 and won two sets against #11 Tommy Robredo at the Australian Open in the same year – that pitched him into the Top 100 at the age of 20.
However, bad and chronic injuries stopped his run into the top, and between 2012 and 2015 he was forced to play Challengers and Futures, far from the big stages of the ATP World Tour.
He eventually fell out of the top 1000, and he started to be considered as a former tennis player, and he seemed to be nothing more than a good sparring partner for real top players.
Not surrendering, actually, was the key of his success: 2016 was indeed a turning point for the German. Starting ranked #171, he won a Challenger title in Sarasota early in the season, but – what’s more surprising! – he reached the quarterfinals in Shanghai (as mentioned before) and upset Stan Wawrinka in Basel shortly thereafter, eventually ending the year ranked #51, near to his career-best of #45, reached eight years ago, in June 2009.
Clearly, all of his previous achievements fade away compared to what he did just now. Zverev’s tennis is delicious for serve and volley lovers, a pleasure to watch; his mental strength has shown to be good enough to upset the #1 in the world, and of course he is playing confident, aware that this is the best moment of his entire career, and that he owns some real chances to set his name among the best in the world. Is this enough, for him, to make a Slam semifinal – or even more?
Kerber Thrashed by Coco
As far as the women’s draw is concerned, while Serena Williams, #2 seed, has been overcoming tough opponent such as Belinda Bencic and Lucia Safarova without dropping a single set, Angelique Kerber struggled to reach the 4th round. In the opening math, she wasted a match point in the second set against Lesia Tsurenko and ended up winning a tight three-setter. In the second round, she lost a set to fellow Carina Witthoeft, to whom she had never lost a set before. In 2015, Kerber had actually double bageled Witthoeft in Wimbledon.
Therefore, as I already said http://lastwordontennis.com/2017/01/21/unseeded-women-australian-open/, Coco Vandeweghe had more than a small chance against the No. 1 in the world.
And indeed, the American lit up the last survivors of the Rod Laver Arena – the match ended nearly at midnight – with a flawless and explosive game, made of baseline winners and superb volleys. Kerber couldn’t face the power of her opponent, who wasbroken just once throughout the whole match and who hit 30 winners to 20 unforced errors, whereas the German ended with just seven winners to 15 unforced errors.
Furthermore, the serve played an important role in the match, with the American hitting six aces, and winning her last two points of the match – from 5-3 30-30 – with an ace and a service winner!
It is not easy to appreciate Vandeweghe’s personality. Racquet smashes, swear words, an on-court attitude which is awful more than once in a while–ask Roberta Vinci, who nearly denied her the handshake after her terrible behaviour during the first round.
However, she seems not to care that much about it, and her entertaining game manages to earn her a lot of fans.
A tough quarterfinal awaits her. Her opponent is going to be Garbine Muguruza, whose performance has been very consistent so far. It’s going to be a battle of power, lots of winners are expected, and the match is certainly going to be worth watching.
Vandeweghe’s confidence, after beating the number #1 in the world, has clearly risen to the sun. Muguruza, though, has come here to fight for her second Grand Slam title, and her game seems to be suitable for the achievement.
The winner of the match gets her first-ever spot in the semifinals of the Australian Open. It’s going to be fun!