MELBOURNE AUSTRALIA— The magic that Linda Noskova (CZE) summoned just two days ago in her victory over World No. 1 Iga Swiatek (POL) is still hovering over Rod Laver Arena. It’s not unlike the dust that Dayana Yastremska (UKR) has used to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinals, taking out two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka to do so.
As Yastremska was blasting 38 winners to beat Azarenka in two tight sets, Noskova received nearly a free pass to the last eight after Ellina Svitolina's (UKR) retirement due to a back injury.
In the men's draw, ninth-seeded Hubert Hurkacz (POL) has also earned a berth in the quarterfinals, rounding out the trio of Yonex stars looking to advance to their first Australian Open semifinals.
The Australian Open junior event is also underway. A total of 40 players -- 18 boys and 22 girls -- are competing with Yonex racquets in their hands. This is the largest number of players of any racquet manufacturer in the juniors, with a 31% share of total participation.
The ‘fighter’ Yastremska overcomes adversity to stun Azarenka
"My heart is going to jump out of my body!"
Those were the first words that came to Yastremska following her tight two-setter over Azarenka, who let leads slip in both the first and the second.
"I thought about that I lost this match, like, 25 times," a smiling Yastremska said about her advantages disappearing. “But sometimes in tennis, if you accept a situation, then you start striking back.
"I played pretty aggressive," she said, winning 12 of the 13 points at net. In the 12th game of the first set, after five deuces, she nailed two consecutive forehand winners to send it into a tiebreak.
In the breaker, it was Azarenka who took the lead, but the 23-year-old Ukrainian kept attacking, hitting an inside-out backhand winner to catch up, then two consecutive forehand winners to close out the set.
The second set played out similar to the first, with Yastremska giving up a break first to fall behind 0-3 in the early goings. However, Yastremska was able to turn things around by winning five consecutive games. Azarenka would rally again, but at 5-4 serving, Yastremska would stay aggressive. She hit a forehand winner to clinch the victory, then thanked the crowd by making a heart shape with both hands in appreciation.
Coming from the qualifying draw, Yastremska has now won seven matches this AO and has reached the elite eight of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career.
Who will she play next for a spot in the semis? Yes, fellow Yonex star Noskova.
As Poland watches, Hurkacz breaks new ground in Melbourne
After Swiatek was knocked out of this AO, the hopes of the many Polish fans packed into Melbourne Park are now on the man who is seeded ninth and had previously only been this far at Wimbledon (2021 semifinals).
With red and white Polish flags fluttering around John Cain Arena, Hurkacz found himself 0-3 down in the first set against France's Arthur Cazaux, as the 21-year-old wildcard had nothing to lose.
Hurkacz knew little about Cazaux going into the match, the higher-ranked Pole needing time to analyze his opponent. As the match progressed he did just that, pulling back even and winning the first and second sets in tiebreaks.
With the world No. 122 beginning to make more and more unforced errors, Hurkacz broke out of the gates in the third and then calmly made his way to a straight-set triumph, 7-6(6) 7-6(3) 6-4 in two hours and 28 minutes.
It’s only the second Grand Slam quarterfinals in Hurkacz’s career, and with the victory, he becomes the first Polish man to reach the last eight at the Australian Open.
"Definitely really, really exciting... I want more kids hopefully to play tennis, enjoy that sport,” Hurkacz said about the future of tennis in Poland.
“Making it to the quarterfinals, it's nice, but obviously we're hungry for more. [I’m] definitely proud of my performance and the team’s performance today. Looking forward to next one.”
The man who is writing new history for Poland is looking to add new chapters to his book. Next up? No.3 seed Daniil Medvedev.