It’s the Day 13 of the Australian Open and it has been a whirlwind week with a bucket load of surprises in one way, shape or form. Most recently across Day 12 the match between Gauff and Sabalenka took centre stage. Herein we’ll share the other matches that were equally as exciting with their own respective key takeaways to be addressed. One of those matches was Zheng v Yastremska and it really needs to be noted how close this match up was, but at the same time, perhaps the best tennis Zheng has played all tournament. Unfortunately for Yastremska it was Zheng who lifted her game on the points that really mattered despite the progressions that Yastremska has made this Australian Open and without a doubt has ascended back to her prior ranking high and is flagged to progressively ascend inside the Top 20 if she is able to uphold this level of play throughout the 2024 season.
On the other hand, it is Zheng who has not only made her maiden Grand Slam final but has become a barrier breaker by landing a Top 10 tennis ranking. It goes without saying that if Zheng is able to maintain her level of play exhibited in the semi-finals and to continue with this level of maintenance, she is primed to make an additional semi-final appearance this season and potentially another Grand Slam final awaits and in due course her very own Grand Slam title.
It is incredibly important to note that it is not automatic that Zheng will claim a Grand Slam title this season due to her relatively streamlined run this Australian Open in contrast to coming up against seeded players and/or former Grand Slam Champions throughout the draw in contrast to other players who were dealt a significantly harder draw than others this Australian Open.
There are two other matches that were played out on Day 12 but did not have the chance to be discussed due to the repeat of the more recent US Open final between Gauff and Sabalenka that garnered the spotlight for good reason. These two distinct quarter-final lineups between Zverev and Alcaraz, and Medvedev v Hurkacz did not disappoint and delivered their blockbuster status on multiple fronts. Both of these matches comprised of stellar performances and whilst many would have been surprised with the result of Zverev trudging away with the Win against Alcaraz despite the third set being incredibly close, Zverev’s metrics did not disappoint and they had flagged him with the potential to deliver this result irrespective of Alcaraz’s current form. This may appear rather conflicting in particular when Alcaraz is the player at the other end, however, Zverev is not only a current Top 10 player, his rate of success and his patterns of play have afforded him a place inside this ranking range over a much lengthier period in comparison to Alcaraz. This is not only due to Zverev being privy to the 7 Keys alike Alcaraz, by his integration of the 8th Key is absolutely paramount. In contrast, it really needs to be highlighted that this Australian Open Alcaraz was not able to keep all 8 Keys in check which can also be attributed to his primary Coach not being able to make the trip with Alcaraz this Australian Summer. And that is an incredibly significant indicator when reviewing key patterns of play to progressions of players at the elite echelon of play.
This now brings us to the incredible trade-off between Medvedev and Hurkacz as they went one set a piece before two, until the fifth set was an incredible decider. It has to be said that this match was breathtaking in various ways from not merely the standard of play, but also the quality delivered by both players. Insofar as Hurkacz performed, this has to be one of his highest quality matches in recent seasons and really solidified his place inside the Top 10. As a player who has regressed outside this ranking range and ascended back into the Top 10, the level of play Hurkacz was able to deliver and maintain throughout this match really signals an important change in the player’s game. And that is the readiness to preparedness by Hurkacz to progress to the semi-final stage or greater at least once this season at the Grand Slam level if he is able to maintain his current level of play.
Perhaps just as exciting, if Hurkacz can hold onto this level of play and establish a new baseline he will become even more problematic for other Top 10 players and position himself for his very own Grand Slam title in the next season if this calibre can more frequently deliver in three, in contrast to five, and to do so more consistently.
On the other hand, Medvedev was absolutely solid and despite going down in two of the five sets, he was the player who was more steadfast and able to maintain his baseline, even if the separation between the two was evident in the micro-discrepancies as discussed in the “What is Your Game Missing Series” and “The 7 Keys to Optimise Your Life”. These micro-discrepancies remain as the differential between these players at the absolute elite level of play. And this is where The Power of the 8th Key really comes into its own. When considering the baseline and quality of play delivered by Medvedev, there is no surprise in the player progressing to the semi-final stage as not only a Grand Slam Champion in his own right, but also a finalist at the Grand Slam level on multiple occasions. Without a doubt, Medvedev is one of only a handful of current players who has the capacity and active baseline that aligns with their level of maintenance and distinctive patterns of play that place him in a unique position of progressing to the semi-final stage and ultimately be one of the final two competing for the Championship title throughout a given season. That said, if Medvedev’s current baseline begins to fluctuate, so will his capacity to reach this stage of a Grand Slam and the likelihood of him claiming another Grand Slam title will not be as streamlined, and/or as increasingly likely, as is his current level of play throughout the most reason three seasons has carried over once again into the 2024 season.
On that merit alone it cannot be understated how accomplished Medvedev is along with his level of play that he would undoubtedly have a number of additional Grand Slams to his name if it were not for the arrival of Alcaraz and the continued dominance of Djokovic and most recently Sinner the past season. All in all, there is a reason why Medvedev has maintained his place not simply inside the Top 10 for a number of seasons, but his place primarily inside the Top 3 with his active baseline primed for more with slight technical variance that will allow Medvedev to more rapidly Win against his primary rivals — Djokovic, Alcaraz and Sinner.
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