Tetchy title favorite Daniil Medvedev was pushed to the limit before reaching the last eight of the Australian Open on Monday, but women’s world number two Aryna Sabalenka crashed out after a streak that ended at the stroke of midnight.
Men’s fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas survived an overnight scare to reach his third Australian Open quarter-final after a thrilling day of marathon matches, frayed moods and scorching heat at Melbourne Park.
Tsitsipas was watching the loss, trailing two sets to one before recovering to beat 20th seed Taylor Fritz 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in 3h 23min of punch and punch. Classic tennis counter kick on the Rod Laver Arena.
“It was an epic match. I gave it my all on the pitch today, I’m very proud of myself with the way I fought,” said Tsitsipas, 23, who will now face Italian Jannik Sinner, who beat Australia’s Alex de Mineur 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-4.
Sabalenka lost a thriller that resulted in a 10-point tiebreaker as veteran Kaia Kanepi ended the Belarusian’s hopes of a maiden Grand Slam title.
Second-seeded Sabalenka saved four match points before losing 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (10/7), sending 15 double faults as her yelps on serve that plagued her throughout long Australian summer have come back to haunt her.
Unseeded Kanepi, 36, reached the last eight in Melbourne for the first time, a stage she has reached at every other major tournament during a Grand Slam career dating back to 2006.
“It was a really tough match,” said Kanepi, who beat three-time Major champion Angelique Kerber in the first round.
The Estonian’s reward is a quarter-final on Wednesday against seventh seed Iga Swiatek of Poland who battled from a set down to beat Sorana Cirstea of Romania 5-7, 6-3, 6-3.
Previously, it had taken 3h30 for the bubbly Russian men’s world number two Medvedev to overpower the American volley of service specialist Maxime Cressy 6-2, 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (4/7), 7- 5 for hosted a quarter-final against Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.
“It was long and it wasn’t easy, the score apart from the first set was all tough sets,” said Medvedev, who clashed with the referee, complained of bad luck and shouted “That’s boring!” to Cressy’s tactics.
In the end, the US Open champion was immensely relieved to endure the toughest scrutiny of his championship titles yet.
“If I hadn’t won the fourth set, I would have been in tough mental shape,” he admitted.
French veteran Alize Cornet reached the quarter-finals of a Slam for the first time in her long career.
Cornet ended her last 16 hoodoos at her 63rd Slam and will now face Danielle Collins for a spot in the women’s singles semifinals after upsetting former world number one Simona Halep of Romania 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in energy – crushing daytime heat.
“It’s amazing. This battle I had with Simona today and the heat,” said Cornet, who knocked out world number three Garbine Muguruza in the second round.
“After 30 minutes we were both dying and we went on for two and a half hours.”
Collins had an even longer battle, with the American beating Belgium’s Elise Mertens 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in 2h 51min of deadly action.
“It was really tough for me,” said Collins, who reached the semi-finals at Melbourne Park in 2019.
Men’s ninth seed Auger-Aliassime defeated Australian Open 2018 finalist Marin Cilic 2-6, 7-6 (9/7), 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) in 3:35 on the John Cain Arena.
He joins Denis Shapovalov in the last eight to make it the first time two Canadian men have reached this stage at the Australian Open, and will now face Medvedev.
“It’s unbelievable. It makes my belief even higher, I’ve lost to Marin three times in the past, this is my first win against him,” said the Canadian.
Sinner, the 11th seed, proved too strong for De Minaur to end Australia’s last remaining men’s singles hope with a 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6- win. 4 in 2h35.
“It’s very difficult to play against Alex, especially in Australia,” said Sinner, who joins compatriot Matteo Berrettini in the quarter-finals.
Results compiled at the end of day eight of the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament at Melbourne Park on Monday:
Jannik Sinner (ITA x11) vs Alex De Minaur (AUS x32) 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-4
Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x4) vs Taylor Fritz (USA x20) 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
Félix Auger-Aliassime (CAN x9) against Marin Cilic (CRO x27) 2-6, 7-6 (9/7), 6-2, 7-6 (7/4)
Daniil Medvedev (RUS x2) against Maxime Cressy (USA) 6-2, 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (4/7), 7-5
Danielle Collins (USA x27) v Elise Mertens (BEL x19) 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
Alize Cornet (FRA) against Simona Halep (ROM x14) 6-4, 3-6, 6-4
Iga Swiatek (POL x7) vs Sorana Cirstea (ROM) 5-7, 6-3, 6-3
Kaia Kanepi (EST) vs Aryna Sabalenka (BLR x2) 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (10/7)