After an exhilarating Day 9 at the Australian Open, it’s time to find out what that semifinal line up looks like.
Simona Halep never lost to Anett Kontaveit on the tour and she was not going to lose this time. She absolutely dominated the match right from the word go and made it to the semis in 53 minutes. Garbine Muguruza followed suit with a straight sets win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. It’s rather difficult to predict the semifinals winners, given the nature of women’s tennis, but Simona Halep and Ash Barty seem to be on course for the final showdown.
On the men’s side, Stanislas Wawrinka came charging out of the blocks to take the first set 6-1 against Alexander Zverev. It looked as if it was going to be another humiliating day for the promising German on the big stage but he found his groove in the second and started serving better while Wawrinka suffered a dip in his service quality. In the end, Zverev won comfortably in four sets with his overall first serve percentage at 80. He is into unchartered territory now by making his first grand slam semi finals. To his credit, he looked down and out during the ATP cup, but fought his way back to regain the confidence he desperately needed.
The big match of the day was the repeat of the 2018 US open quarterfinals between Dominic Thiem and Rafael Nadal. Thiem came very close to beating Nadal in New York and many at that point believed that such experiences will only help the Austrian in future. He got a chance to prove that he learned from his mistakes. He ran the Spaniard ragged with his thumping ground strokes in the first two sets and was able to gain a 2 set advantage by winning both tiebreaks. He looked all set to close the match in straight sets, but Nadal, as he so often does, broke in the last game of the third set to win it 6-4. Thiem seemed to have lost the momentum but redeemed himself at the start of the fourth. He broke Nadal early and held his serve to move within one game of winning the match. Serving at 5-4, nerves seeped in and the Austrian froze. His shot selection came into question with a couple of ill-timed drop shots that Nadal was able to take advantage of. Nadal was at his adrenaline pumping best now and the match seemed to be going into the decider. Thiem calmed himself down in the tiebreak and had two match points to close out the match. The Spaniard kept fighting and saved both but could not hold his serve and finally surrendered with an unforced error. Thiem was more relived than ecstatic as he was able to win it in 4. Who knows what would have happened had it gone to the deciding set?