Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev head into tomorrow’s Australian Open quarter-final with defeats to the other fresh in the memory.
Alcaraz won their last grand slam clash, at the 2023 US Open, in straight sets while their previous meeting ended in a win for the German at the ATP Finals.
Second seed Alcaraz said: “The last time we faced each other I lost, so I have to focus on that.
“I have to improve my level from that match. I love playing against him. It’s always a tough battle and I have to play my best level as he pushed me to play my 100 per cent every time.
“I’m going to enjoy playing the quarter-finals against him and hopefully take the victory.”
Their match in New York saw Alcaraz come in the fresher having breezed into the last eight while Zverev had to spend considerably more time on court. The same has happened in Melbourne with the Spaniard dropping just a solitary set, in contrast to his opponent who has been taken to a fifth-set match tie-break twice, including in the last round against Cameron Norrie.
Zverev dismissed the comparisons and insisted he is in good physical shape.
He said: “For sure if you play less you are fresher, but I feel okay.
“[It’s] not like the US Open, where I was completely dead and where I feel like I’m physically exhausted.
“I’m tired, for sure, because I played 7-6 in the fifth set again two times out of the last three matches. But I’m not dead.”
Carlos Alcaraz continues to rise 🇪🇸
Can the young superstar progress to his first AO semifinal? 👇https://t.co/EQGbKzUOwA
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 23, 2024
The other men’s quarter-final tomorrow pits third seed Daniil Medvedev against Hubert Hurkacz. The big-serving Pole has won three of their previous five meetings and Medvedev knows he will have to be at his best to advance.
He said: “Tough opponent for me for sure. In my opinion, he serves bigger than many guys. I would compare it to something like Nick Kyrgios, very precise and at the same time strong.
“He’s top two or three serves on tour. It’s hard to return him. I’m going to have my eyes prepared and try to catch everything I can on Wednesday.”
On the women’s side, it’s a day when opportunity knocks.
Linda Noskova, who beat world number one Iga Swiatek on her way to the quarters, meets qualifier Dayana Yastremska while Qinwen Zheng, the only seed remaining in the top half, takes on world number 75 Anna Kalinskaya.
One of those four ladies will reach the final – and it may be a case of who can keep their nerves in check.
AO crown is getting closer 👑 👀 pic.twitter.com/R4LZStPPEA
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 22, 2024
Order of Play – selected matches
Day session (from 01:00 UK time)
Linda Noskova v Dayana Yastremska
Daniil Medvedev v Hubert Hurkacz
Night session (from 08:00 UK time)
Anna Kalinskaya v Qinwen Zheng
Carlos Alcaraz v Alexander Zverev
When and how to watch
The Australian Open is available to watch live on Discovery+ and Eurosport in the United Kingdom, with the day’s singles action getting under way from 01:00 UK time on Wednesday morning. The night session is scheduled to take place from 08:00.
Alcaraz ought to have too much for Zverev, and that’s before you take into account the German’s punishing run to this stage. Hurkacz could trouble Medvedev but, again, it’s hard to see the Russian not prevailing.
I’d take Noskova to edge out Yastremska, mainly because she proved against Swiatek she can handle the big occasion but also the fact she has an excellent record on Australian hard courts. Kalinskaya is a bit of an unknown quantity but her win against Jasmine Paolini last time out was impressive and I am tipping her to stun Zheng.