Storm Hunter’s doubles win comes with an extra couple of scoops of intrigue, while busted courts and Nick Kyrgios’s mixed messages cause confusion.
Here are five quick hits from day 11 at Melbourne Park.
1. Double, double toil and trouble: Sun will burn, and court will bubble?
With the singles quarterfinals getting underway at 12pm AEDT, there was a period of an hour when the outside courts were in the full spotlight, including Australian Matthew Ebden, who is second seed along with Rohan Bopanna.
They were playing Argentinian sixth seeds Máximo González and Andrés Molteni and, at first, everything seemed normal.
The match was on serve, with the Argentines leading 2-1 until the change of ends, at which point Ebden’s thumbs started pricking — or perhaps more accurately, his feet.
In the service box, the Aussie noticed the court was starting to blister and bubble.
As Ebden said: “If the serve hits this it’s a problem,” with Bopanna illustrating the point by dropping the ball on the offending area, and the ball not bouncing.
The thing is, it wasn’t a particularly hot start to the day, around 27 degrees Celsius, although there was a storm early in the morning and perhaps some rain got under the covers to create the issue.
Nevertheless, it was a bit of an issue and led to the match being suspended for about an hour while officials fixed the court, with the contest resuming on Margaret Court Arena.
2. Mixed messages from Nick
“The reality is, there is a part of me that knows my time in the sport may be over. And I’m OK with that.”
Those were the words from the pen (keyboard, whatever) of Nick Kyrgios in Nine’s newspapers on Wednesday morning.
Of course, that’s what people focused on when analysing his comments, so it might be confusing to some that he then said via an Instagram story that any discussion about him retiring was “absolute nonsense”.
“So I’ve woken up today and realised about some articles going around saying that I’m retired and I’m not gunna play any more and I just want to clear it up,” he said on Instagram.
“It’s absolute nonsense.
“Yes, the last year has been tough with injury … but I’m hungry as ever, constantly rehabbing, in the gym.
“I just wanna let everyone know, my fans, I’m coming back. Stay tuned, but there’s plenty left in the tank. Don’t stress.”
3. Hunter’s revenge
There were storylines everywhere you looked on Margaret Court Arena on Wednesday afternoon as Storm Hunter and Kateřina Siniaková took on Barbora Krejčíková and Laura Siegemund in their women’s doubles quarterfinal.
Hunter upset Siegemund in the second round of the singles before Krejčíková took out the Aussie in the third, but perhaps more intriguing is the relationship between Krejčíková and Siniaková.
The Czech stars linked up as teenagers and won three girls’ slams in 2013, before reuniting as professionals to win seven majors and an Olympic gold medal from 2018 to 2023.
But the pair, one of just five pairs to win at least seven slams in the Open era, went their separate ways last year in a move sparked by Siniaková, although the exact reasons are still the subject of some speculation.
When asked on court after the quarterfinal win and a less than warm handshake, Siniaková said it was “tough” to play against her former partner but did her best to not fuel any rift rumours.
“I’d say the biggest difference is [Hunter’s] leftie and I will stick with that because I don’t really want to go deeper,” she said.
“It was really tough. It’s not really nice to play against each other after [playing together for] so long, but it’s tennis.
“I’m just really happy that we won and we stuck together this game. It was really tough. I think we really support each other and that helps and maybe that’s why we got the win.”
4. A 46-year first for qualifier Yastremska
Dayana Yastremska made some history by beating Linda Nosková in the quarterfinals, becoming the first women’s qualifier to reach the semifinals at the Australian Open since 1978.
That year, Australian Christine Matison achieved her best ever result in a grand slam singles tournament by reaching the semifinals as a qualifier aged 27, only to be beaten by American eight seed Betsy Nagelsen in the semifinal 7-5, 6-4.
“I think it’s nice to make a history because, at that time, I still wasn’t born because that was 2000. It’s next generation. It’s nice to make a history,” Yastremska said on court.
The next woman to reach the semifinals of a grand slam after Matison was American Alexandra Stevenson at Wimbledon in 1999, after she beat fellow qualifier Jelena Dokic in three sets in the quarterfinal before falling to eventual champion Lindsay Davenport.
Overall, 10 qualifiers have reached the semifinals of grand slams in the open era, five men and five women.
Only one of those ever reached a grand slam final though, Emma Raducanu, at the 2021 US Open — which she actually won.
On the men’s side of the draw, Aslan Karatsev made the semis as a qualifier in 2021, losing to eventual champion Novak Djokovic.
5. Who’s playing at the Australian Open today?
It’s women’s semifinal day at the Australian Open.
The first semi from 7:30pm AEDT pits defending champion Aryna Sabalenka against reigning US Open winner Coco Gauff and serves as a rematch of that New York final.
Then, the second semi pits two relative strangers against one another, with 12th seed Qinwen Zheng meeting Ukrainian qualifier Dayana Yastremska for the first time.
Earlier, Australia’s Ebden and Hunter will play in the men’s and women’s doubles semifinals from 1pm and 3pm respectively.
Heath Davidson is also in action in the men’s quad doubles semis from 3:30pm, with brother-sister duo Hayden and Emerson Jones playing their boys’ and girls’ singles quarterfinals on Court 3.
There’s also some hit and giggle in the legends doubles, including Li Na on the 10th anniversary of her Australian Open title.
Sports content to make you think… or allow you not to. A newsletter delivered each Friday.