In what has been a fascinating Australian Open that has seen top seeds fall and new young powerhouses emerge, we now reach the quarter-final stages.
Seven of the eight women still in the draw have now recorded career best performances at the Australian Open, with reigning Champion Aryna Sabalenka the only one yet to improve on previous results in Australia.
With the way the draw has lined up, we are also guaranteed a first time Grand Slam finalist for one of the players in the first half of the draw.
But who will triumph and reach the semi-finals?
Marta Kostyuk vs Coco Gauff (4)
In her first Grand Slam appearance since her launch into superstardom following victory at the US Open, Coco Gauff has made excellent progress in Melbourne, failing to drop a set in the tournament.
Gauff seems to have made serious improvements to her serve and forehand, both of which have given her serious problems in the past.
With these two areas of her game apparently on the mend, Gauff has been on devastating form down under.
Her opponent for the quarter-finals will be the world number 37 Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine. This has been Kostyuk’s best performance at a Grand Slam, and at only 21 years of age, she is definitely a player for the future.
Kostyuk’s speed and court coverage may well be her biggest asset, but the way Gauff is playing, it is hard to look past a routine victory for the US Open Champion.
Gauff in two.
Barbora Krejcikova (9) vs Aryna Sabalenka (2)
2023 must have felt a strange year for Aryna Sabalenka. After capturing the Australian Open against Rybakina, Sabalenka made at least the semi-finals in each of the remaining Grand Slams, but failed to win any of them.
Her consistency has been utterly remarkable and if she is victorious in this year’s Australian Open quarter-final, she will have made the last six Grand Slam semi-finals.
Sabalenka has looked terrifyingly good so far in defence of her title, much like Gauff failing to drop a set in the tournament. She looks to be on a mission to try and regain the world number one spot from Swiatek and will need to retain the Australian Open title to do so.
Her opponent will be the 2021 French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, who came from a set down to narrowly beat sixteen-year-old sensation Mirra Andreeva.
Krejcikova is a solid player with strong ground strokes off both sides, but in the end, I see no other outcomes than a decisive Sabalenka victory.
Sabalenka in two.
Linda Noskova vs Dayan Yastremska
Very little was known about Linda Noskova before she took to the court against world number one Iga Swiatek. But by the time she left the court, plenty of people knew the 19-year-old’s name.
What was so impressive about Noskova’s victory over Swiatek was that the world number one was hardly out of sorts. Swiatek had been playing some of the best tennis of her career at the back end of 2023, but Noskova managed to match Swiatek’s power and accuracy, hitting through Swiatek in the last two sets.
The talented teenager takes on another surprise package from this year’s tournament Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine, who defeated two-time Australian Open Champion Victoria Azarenka in round 4.
Yastremska came from behind in both sets against Azarenka and showed great promise behind her serve and ground strokes.
However, Noskova may well have too much power for Yastremska, and although I expect it to be closer than the first two quarter-finals, Noskova will likely triumph.
Noskova in three.
Anna Kalinskaya vs Qinwen Zheng (12)
One of the players to watch in 2024 was always going to be Qinwen Zheng. The Chinese sensation has shown remarkable promise throughout the early stages of her career and has looked to be in excellent form at the Australian Open.
Despite a wobble against fellow countrywomen Yafan Wang, that saw Zheng win a third set tie break, the promising 21-year-old has looked excellent so far.
Zheng’s opponent Anna Kalinskaya has had little success at Grand Slam level in her career, but has racked up impressive wins over Sloane Stephens and Jasmine Paolini in Australia, proving she is capable of competing with some top players.
That said, I believe that Zhang’s all-round game will be too much for Kalinskaya. If Zhang can cut out her large number of double faults, then there are very few weaknesses to her game; I see her competing for many more Grand Slams in the future.
Zheng in two.
Predicted semi-final clashes
Gauff vs Sabalenka
Noskova vs Zheng