Carlos Alcaraz excels to reach star-studded men’s quarter-finals

Australian Open: Elina Svitolina forced to retire with a back injury three games into match with Linda Noskova

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 Britain’s 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.

In the women’s fourth round, a tearful Elina Svitolina was forced to retire with a back injury only three games into her clash with Linda Noskova.

The former world number three, who has made a very impressive return following the birth of daughter Skai last year, appeared the favourite to make the final from a wide open top half of the draw.

But her back locked up in the first game of the match and she sobbed as she called it a day trailing 3-0.

She said: “This one I think I never had that before, the shooting pain like this. I had some injuries to my back before where it just was tiredness the next day of the match, but this one was really out of nowhere. I felt like someone shot me in the back.”

Svitolina, who reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon last summer, did not want to think about what might have been, saying: “I cannot say that this was an open draw in a way.

“If you take other players, they are meant to be there. You have also in the other side of the draw very strong players who won Slams and played really consistent throughout the year last year.

“So I don’t want to look at this as a missed opportunity, especially right now when it was not about my tennis today.”

Having beaten Iga Świątek in the third round, 19-year-old Noskova is now through to her first Grand Slam quarter-final, where she will take on another Ukrainian in Dayana Yastremska.

She saved two set points in the opening set and then came from 3-0 down in the second to beat two-time former champion Victoria Azarenka 7-6 (6) 6-4, powering 38 winners.

Yastremska was ranked as high as 21 in 2020 but had not won a Slam match since serving a provisional doping suspension the following year and had to come through qualifying here.

The 23-year-old tested positive for the synthetic testosterone mesterolone and missed nearly six months of competition before it was decided she bore no fault or negligence and was therefore free to compete again.

Yastremska is the second Ukrainian through to the last eight after Marta Kostyuk, and Svitolina will be cheering on her countrywomen.

“Of course I’ve been following that we all have been playing really well,” she said. “At the beginning of the tournament, seven Ukrainians in the main draw, and going that far so many of us, it’s nice in the second week as well.

“It’s great for Ukrainian tennis. Of course, now I feel very old because of my health, but I’m happy that they are doing great. It’s great for Ukrainian tennis. It’s great for the upcoming generation as well, especially now these days when Ukraine is in such a tough time.”

Yastremska, who fled Ukraine at the start of the war after spending two days in an underground car park, did not acknowledge Belarusian Azarenka at the end of the match.

“The last three years, a lot of things happened, but I’m not going to talk about it right now,” she said.

“A lot of things affected me, and because of that I couldn’t really play like I wanted. Plus I put a lot of pressure on myself, as well.

“The war, of course, it’s affected us a lot, because you cannot go home like you wanted, when you wanted like it was before. You always read the news. You always see the videos.

“As I said before, for example, when I was in Brisbane, the rocket arrived on my grandmother’s house. It’s tough emotionally to play, but the worst thing is you feel like you were already accepting this, what is happening. And people are starting to forget about what is going on.”

Russian Anna Kalinskaya, who had won just four matches in 13 previous Grand Slam appearances, is another player having a superb tournament, and she saw off 26th seed Jasmine Paolini 6-4 6-2.

Twelfth seed Zheng Qinwen restored some order, though, in the final match of the round, defeating France’s Oceane Dodin 6-0 6-3 to make it back-to-back Slam quarter-finals.