WILL EVANS’ daily preview serves up Australian Open tips as the women’s quarter-final schedule wraps up with a clash between wunderkind Iga Swiatek and WTA stalwart Kaia Kanepi.
19:00 (AEDT), Wed 26th Jan @ Melbourne Park
History: First meeting
Final Thoughts: Iga Swiatek is on course to deliver on the potential she displayed in such stunning style by winning the 2020 French Open as a 19-year-old. But her Australian Open quarter-final opponent, veteran Estonia Kaia Kanepi, is on a giant-killing run and chasing her maiden Grand Slam semi-final appearance.
Polish powerhouse Swiatek breezed through the early rounds, despatching Heather Dart (6-3 6-0), Rebecca Peterson (6-2 6-2) and 25th seed Daria Kasatkina (6-2 6-3) in straight sets. She dropped just one service game in each victory.
But the seventh seed dropped the first set against Sorana Cirstea, before rallying to win the fourth-round encounter 5-7 6-3 6-3. This is Swiatek’s third Grand Slam quarter-final, making the last eight in her French Open title defence last year.
Kanepi is lining up for her seventh Grand Slam quarter-final – but her first since the 2017 US Open. She played her first major more than 15 years ago.
In a memorable week, the 36-year-old upset 16th seed and former champ Angelique Kerber (6-4 6-3) in the first round, eliminated Marie Bouzkova (6-2 7-6) and Aussie bolter Maddison Inglis (2-6 6-2 6-0) and stunned second seed Aryna Sabalenka (5-7 6-2 7-6).
World No.63 Kanepi regrouped after failing to convert four match points, coolly taking out the third-set tiebreak.
Kanepi’s trademark power has been a standout feature of her best-ever Australian Open campaign. She will push Swiatek, but the 20-year-old has already proved herself as an aggressive, ruthless competitor and her superior movement will be a key advantage on Wednesday night.
Nevertheless, Kanepi shapes as good value with a healthy games handicap and it would not surprise to see her take a set.