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Quarterfinal preview: What to watch on Day 10

  • Gillian Tan

The sun will be shining brightly on the remaining quarterfinal clashes as we get to the business end of Australian Open 2021. Here is our preview of the all four big matches.

Ash Barty [1] v Karolina Muchova [25]

Australia’s sweetheart enters this intriguing showdown with confidence: Barty won 6-3 6-4 in the pair’s only prior meeting at the 2018 US Open, where the talented Czech had reached the third round as a qualifier. Two and a half years later, Muchova presents a greater challenge. Like Barty, she’s undefeated this year and also yet to drop a set during Australian Open 2021. Still, the Queenslander is fighting fit, having dropped only 10 points against Danka Kovinic in her opening round match, where she became the first Australian since Wendy Turnbull in 1985 to win an Australian Open match 6-0 6-0. She remains the favourite to clinch her second major this weekend, which would make her the first Australian to lift the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup since Chris O’Neil in 1978. “It will be a brilliant match,” Barty said, describing her opponent – also 24 years old - as a “hell of a player”. “I know she's got the ability to manoeuvre the ball all around the court, play with variety [and] play with shape.”

MORE: Full schedule for day 10

Jennifer Brady [22] v Jessica Pegula

In this bout between friends and Fed Cup teammates, the Americans will set aside their camaraderie in pursuit of a maiden Australian Open semifinal berth. The duo are both in scintillating form - Brady has been broken just twice in her first four matches and conceded only 17 games, the fewest of any women’s quarterfinalist. 26 year-old Pegula got the better of Brady, 25, in three sets when the duo clashed at the Western & Southern Open last year ahead of the younger American’s breakout run to the US Open semifinals where she pushed the eventual champion in a three-setter that many consider last season’s best women’s match. The self-described “laid-back” Brady is hoping her experience in New York will equip her to better handle key moments. “Especially in big tournaments, the more experience you gain, and then the more confidence you gain … it helps you in those moments to believe in yourself and to close out matches,” she said.

Andrey Rublev [7] v Daniil Medvedev [4]

Stakes are high as the compatriots face-off to join countryman Aslan Karatsev as the second Russian to reach the men’s singles semifinals, a feat not achieved since the 2006 US Open. It’s a rematch of their final eight clash at Flushing Meadows just five months ago, which Medvedev clinched in straight sets without facing a break point. The duo, who had played before they turned 10 have learned more about each other as the years have progressed, in part because they’ve competed against each other regularly. Medvedev “read[s] the game really well and it's amazing the patience he [has] to stay so long in rallies,” said 23 year-old Rublev, who has lost his three tour-level encounters against Medvedev, two years his senior. The higher-ranked Russian’s confidence will be soaring, thanks to a streak of ten straight top-10 victories that saw him storm to titles including the year-ending ATP Finals with wins over Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem. Medvedev also has the advantage of being unbeaten in his two prior major quarterfinals, compared to Rublev’s 0-3 effort.

Can Andrey Rublev stay calm and topple his compatriot?

Rafael Nadal [2] v Stefanos Tsitsipas [5]

The 2009 champion meets the flashy Greek with a 6-1 head-to-head advantage that sits at 4-0 on hard courts, including a Nadal win at Australian Open 2019 where Tsitsipas picked up just six games. In that encounter, Tsitsipas manufactured just one break point which he wasn’t able to convert. But two years on, the youngster – who captured a set in each of his matches against 34 year-old Nadal at the ATP Finals in November - will hope to deny the Spaniard access to a 7th AO semifinal and 35th major semifinal. To do so, he’ll need to produce his first top 10 win at a Grand Slam since the memorable upset of Roger Federer at AO2019. Notably, Nadal hasn’t defeated a top 10 player in Melbourne since 2017, falling to Marin Cilic, Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem in 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. Pushed to a marathon five sets by Australian wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round, Tsitsipas has spent just 20 minutes less on court during AO2021 than Nadal due to the withdrawal of Matteo Berrettini in the round of 16.