Carlos Alcaraz excels to reach star-studded last eight at Australian Open

By Sports Desk January 22, 2024

A blockbuster set of men’s quarter-finals awaits at the Australian Open after Carlos Alcaraz led the favourites into the last eight on Monday.

In complete contrast to the women’s draw, all of the top six seeds have made it through, while Taylor Fritz, at 12, is the lowest-ranked player still left in the tournament.

Alcaraz rated his performance against Miomir Kecmanovic as almost perfect, the second seed hitting 43 winners in a 6-4 6-4 6-0 victory on Rod Laver Arena.

If he can maintain the same level through the next six days, he will fancy his chances of possibly beating another Serbian on the same court on Sunday.

Alcaraz missed last year’s tournament with a leg injury but has dropped only one set so far on his way through to a first quarter-final in Melbourne.

Asked what worked well, the second seed said with a grin: “I think everything. I did everything almost perfectly.

“I pushed him to the limit in every ball, in every point. Obviously he has played a lot of matches in five sets, a lot of tough matches, so probably physically he was not at his 100 per cent.

“I’m feeling better and better every day. Every match I’ve played here in Rod Laver I’ve been feeling more comfortable.”

Alcaraz will next take on sixth seed Alexander Zverev, who survived a deciding fifth-set tie-break for the second time in four rounds to make it past Cameron Norrie.

Third seed Daniil Medvedev and ninth seed Hubert Hurkacz were up against the only real surprise packages of the fourth round in Nuno Borges and Arthur Cazaux, respectively.

Medvedev had a wobble against 69th-ranked Borges, the first Portuguese player to make the fourth round here, in the third set, losing five games in a row from 5-2.

But he regrouped in the fourth to claim a 6-3 7-6 (4) 5-7 6-1 victory and reach the last eight for the third time in the last four years.

Former US Open champion Medvedev has not been talked about as much as Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner as a potential challenger to Novak Djokovic, but the Russian, who lost in the final here in 2021 and 2022 and won in New York last year, is happy to blow his own trumpet.

“I know what I’m worth,” he said. “I know how good I can play. I proved it in the US Open, especially for myself, playing some tough opponents, in my opinion, game style-wise. I managed to beat them.

“I’m ready. Hopefully I can show it on the tennis court. We can talk forever who is ready, who is favourite. You need to win.”

Hurkacz ended the run of French wild card Cazaux, coming from a break down in the opening set to win 7-6 (6) 7-6 (3) 6-4 and reach the last eight at a slam for just the second time, while he is the first Polish man to make the quarter-finals here.

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