“Since like 14 years old the coaches have been telling us ‘we need new Americans, we need new Americans’. It’s kind of engraved in my head. It’s important to me. I think we all want it pretty bad for ourselves, but we want it for US tennis too.”
Emma Kemp on Tommy Paul’s surprising run to the men’s singles semi-finals, flying the flag for the USA:
“Do you know what happened 10 years ago?” says Victoria Azarenka. It is hard to read her emotions because of the sunglasses she wears at her press conference, but her voice is laced with long-held contempt. Assumptions were made about what occurred at Melbourne Park in 2013 when the 23-year-old Azarenka, having just squandered five match points in her semi-final against Sloane Stephens, took a lengthy, controversial medical timeout before winning the match and then defending her 2012 title.
They still can’t land on a nickname, but Australia’s newest men’s doubles pairing is one match away from keeping the Australian Open title in local hands.
Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler have been “winging it” through the doubles draw and on Thursday stormed into the final after smoking the far more experienced combination of Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos.
“Srdjan Djokovic, the father of Novak Djokovic, has been pictured posing for photos with Vladimir Putin supporters at the Australian Open on Wednesday night.
Four men had been evicted from Melbourne Park by Victoria police on Wednesday night after chanting pro-Russian and pro-Vladimir Putin slogans on the steps of Rod Laver Arena while brandishing numerous Russian flags, including one with the face of Putin on it.”
Tumaini Carayol and Nino Bucci report:
In a few hours’ time there will be two players left standing in the women’s singles at the Australian Open. Victoria Azarenka has been here before, although not since 2013, the year she won the second of two consecutive titles.
Azarenka’s opponent in today’s first semi-final, Elena Rybakina, has never previously been beyond the third round at Melbourne Park. She is of course a grand-slam champion, having prevailed at Wimbledon last summer, so has proved eminently capable of getting it done in these high-stakes matches.
Following that match, billed as the tournament’s best server against its best returner, another potentially captivating semi-final awaits. Magda Linette of Poland has never previously been beyond the third round of any grand slam event, and she has played in 30. Standing in the way of the 30-year-old Linette is Aryna Sabalenka, the 24-year-old Belarussian who has raised her service game to devastating effect over the past couple of weeks.
This is going to be good. Rybakina v Azarenka is due to start at 8.30 UK time. Let’s go!