The story of Day Nine Down Under is the contrast in career resumes of the four players who booked semifinal spots, as Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and Aslan Karatsev advanced on Tuesday.
Between the first three players, there are 43 Grand Slam singles titles, while Karatsev is competing in the first Grand Slam main draw of his career.
Karatsev, a Russian qualifier, continued his run in Melbourne as he came back from a set down to defeat 18th seed Grigor Dimitrov, who was vying for his second appereance in the Australian Open semifinals. The 114th ranked Karatsev won 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling. Of course it’s my first time playing a Grand Slam main draw, first time in the semis,” he said. “It was really tough from the beginning for me to hold my nerves. It was really tricky. I tried to find a way how to play and then in the third he felt the back.”
Dimitrov was stricken with back spasms from the middle of the match on, and was therefore outplayed by Karatsev late in the match, but said that Karatsev “absolutely deserved” the win.
Awaiting the Russian in the semifinals is defending champion Novak Djokovic, who overcame Alexander Zverev on Tuesday to win 6-7(6), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(6) and secure his spot in the final four.
“Down to the very last shot, it was anybody’s game, anybody’s match,” said Djokovic. “A lot of nerves out there, a lot of pressure. Emotionally, [I] feel a little drained, honestly. It was a great battle. Congratulations to Sascha for a great tournament and a great battle today. Tough luck today, but we pushed each other to the limit.”
In the night’s first quarterfinal, third-seed and former champion Naomi Osaka defeated Su-Wei Hsieh 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and six minutes.
“Definitely really happy with how I played today. Every time I play her it’s always such a battle,” said Osaka. “Even though the score was like this, it was actually another battle for me. She’s able to hit winners off both sides. You never know when she’s about to go for it.”
Osaka draws Serena Williams next after the American rolled past second-seed Simona Halep 6-3, 6-3, hitting 24 winners and converting on six of her 13 break point chances.
“I definitely think this is the best match I’ve played this tournament for sure,” she said. “Obviously I had to, going up against the No. 2 in the world. I knew I had to do better and that’s what I did.”
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for New York Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org