Medvedev the copycat?

There is so much to unpack from Daniil Medvedev’s four-hour 42-minute comeback victory over Felix Auger-Aliassime in Wednesday’s quarter-final, but perhaps one of the oddest parts of that encounter was the Russian mimicking his opponent’s grunt for the majority of the match.
It wasn’t clear if Medvedev was trolling Auger-Aliassime, or was trying to get into his head, but the world No. 2 later explained he has a habit of subconsciously mimicking those around him.
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“To be honest, in life, I think that's my character, like when I talk to a person a lot, so when I have a best friend or wife, they get nervous because I start to be like them in many things and I do it not on purpose,” said Medvedev.
“That's just how I am. If I have a new friend and I'll talk to him a lot, I'll start to do some phrases like him. I'll start to sometimes act like him and he's going to be like, ‘What the hell, man? Why you doing that?’
“I think definitely I didn't do this on purpose, like not zero percent. I think it's just, yeah, he was putting a lot of intensity in his grunt, and when I started to like really fight for my life, I was, like, ‘I'm going to grunt also’. I didn't think about this, but now when I rethink, it's true that some points I was like after the point, ‘Did I just grunt kind of like him?’”
He never fails to amuse!

Fearless Collins ready for semis

Danielle Collins has been a cult favourite for years thanks to her competitive nature and fiery attitude on court.
The American No. 27 seed is back in the Australian Open semi-finals – for the second time in four appearances – just nine months after undergoing surgery for endometriosis. A cyst the size of a tennis ball was removed from her ovary last April and it’s remarkable how Collins has overcome her health issues to get back to her best on court in less than a year.
Speaking to the press after her straight-sets win over Alize Cornet on Wednesday, Collins shared a fun anecdote that explains just how bold she is, on and off the court.
“I used to be really scared of heights. I still am scared of heights. I don't like being up in tall buildings or being close to a balcony. I went on a girl's trip with Bethanie (Mattek-Sands). One day I woke up and said, ‘What's on the agenda today?’ She said, ‘We're going rock climbing’,” recounted Collins.
She told Mattek-Sands she was scared of heights but still agreed to go on the adventure.
“I was terrified. It was one of the most scary experiences for me relying on equipment, the what ifs,” she recalls.
“It was a nerve-wracking experience for me.
“Had to be at least a four-hour experience, halfway through it I realised every time I step out on the court, it's not life or death. For people in rock climbing, it can be.
“That was a really big realisation for me and something I think helped me grow to kind of step out of my comfort zone and try something I had never done before, something that I was really scared of doing. That was a huge moment of growth for me.”

From partners to rivals in 24 hours

They won Paralympic gold together in Tokyo last year and clinched the Australian Open wheelchair doubles title on Wednesday but Aniek van Koot and Diede de Groot must quickly switch their mindset as they Dutch pair get set to square off in the singles final on Thursday.
“I think the thing for us is we're also sort of used to this situation where we play with each other and also against each other. It's not really something new. Yeah, we're good afterwards mostly,” joked De Groot, who last year claimed the Golden Slam by clinching all four majors as well as Olympic gold in singles. “Always, always,” she added.
Van Koot will be seeking her second Australian Open singles crown, and first since 2013, while De Groot is targeting a fourth singles title at Melbourne Park.

Netherlands' Diede de Groot (L) and Netherlands' Aniek van Koot pose with the trophy after winning against Japan's Yui Kamiji and Britain's Lucy Shuker during their women's wheelchair doubles final match on day ten of the Australian Open tennis tournament

Image credit: Getty Images

Okutoyi sends inspirational message to Africa, and the world

With a historic third-round showing in the girls’ singles tournament, shout-outs received from the likes of Kenyan-Mexican actress Lupita Nyong'o and tennis legend Billie Jean King, and added belief in her own capabilities, Angella Okutoyi walked away from Melbourne Park on Wednesday as a hero in the making.
The 17-year-old Kenyan made history at the Australian Open this week as she became the first woman from her country to reach the third round of any event at a Grand Slam.
Okutoyi’s campaign came to an end at the hands of Serbia’s Lola Radivojevic but the African junior champion can only take positives from her time Down Under.
“To make history here at Melbourne is very special. I am happy that people in Kenya have been able to see that and they, together with African players more generally, realise they have a chance to do the same,” said Okutoyi after the match.
While she arrived in Melbourne earlier this month with the main goal to enjoy the experience, the Kenyan teen assures that “next time I’m coming to win it; I believe I can actually do it.”
Okutoyi’s exploits at the Australian Open have made a splash worldwide and she admits she did not expect the massive reaction she received over the past few days.
“First I would say is Lupita Nyong'o, the actor. Second is Madison Keys the tennis player, I didn’t know she would post about me. Also Australian Open, ITF, WTA, and also musicians from Kenya, I was just happy,” she said when asked to name some of the people who have congratulated her online.
“This makes me feel like that whatever I’ve been working on, hard work and determination is really paying off and I’m happy about it.”
Okutoyi is aware of the impact she can have on tennis in Kenya, and in Africa at large, and had a strong message for aspiring players looking to follow in her footsteps.
“In Kenya, most people who play tennis, their families don’t have much, just like me. So I just want to encourage them, like, with that situation doesn’t mean you can’t reach here. That doesn’t define you but that actually give you a drive and the motivation to actually do good,” she said.
“The biggest lesson (from my Australian Open) I would say is that it doesn’t matter where you come from, you just have to believe.”
We can’t wait to see what she does next!

Young and wise

Auger-Aliassime and Jannik Sinner showed great character and poise after their respective quarter-final defeats on Wednesday.
Despite blowing a two-set lead, the 21-year-old Auger-Aliassime was able to view this disappointment with great perspective.
“I wish I could go back and change it, but I can't. So I have accepted it already,” said the world No. 9.
“I look at it in a very positive way. So far I played two tournaments this year. I showed some good level again today. It's unfortunate I couldn't win, but it was a good match. I showed good things.
“I’m going to leave Australia with my head held high, and I'm going to go into the rest of the season knowing that I can play well against the best players in the world.”
Meanwhile, the 20-year-old Sinner was already looking towards what’s next after being handed a tough straight-sets loss by Stefanos Tsitsipas.
“My goal is to play many matches like this, important matches against the best guys in the world, and then we see and then I grow,” said the Italian world No. 10.
“I think it was, especially for me here in Australia, was good. I played matches, and I made experience. Let's see next year what I do here.
“I know what I have to improve many, many things, and this, for me today, it was a lesson.”
It’s great to see young players act so wise in such difficult moments.

Point of the day

Iga Swiatek’s unreal match point that sealed her three-hour victory over Kaia Kanepi on Wednesday will likely take point of the tournament honours by the end of this Australian Open.
You won’t be able to stop yourself from replaying this multiple times. The hustle was real!

Quote of the day

“The first thought that comes to my mind right now is that I have eternal respect for the Grand Slam winner because it's such a long way. My God, I have the feeling I'm playing this tournament for a year. I'm so exhausted mentally, physically. When you go all the way and win these freaking seven matches, it's just huge.
“I respected the Grand Slam winner before, but now even more because I only did half of the way, a little bit more than half. It seemed to me like, oh my God, you need to be so strong on every aspect to go to the end. That was a great experience for me to learn that. Even though I'm 32, I'm still learning, apparently.
“It showed me when I reflect on this that I'm maybe tougher than what I thought.”
-- Cornet reflects on what turned out to be her career-best Grand Slam experience at this Australian Open

Stats of the day

- For the first time in the history of the Australian Open, three men’s quarter-final matches have gone to a fifth set (via Enrico Maria Riva).
- Stefanos Tsitsipas’ straight-sets triumph over Jannik Sinner on Wednesday means the Greek has now won all five Grand Slam quarter-finals he has contested so far in his young career. Impressive!
- Tsitsipas hit 30 winners against Sinner, converted 4/4 break points and won 79 percent of the points on his first serve and 60 percent on his second.
- With Sinner's elimination, this Australian Open becomes the first Grand Slam event without a first-time Slam men's or women's singles semi-finalist since the 2013 French Open (via Ben Rothenberg).
- Medvedev has come back from two sets to love down for just the second time in his career.
- Swiatek hit a total of seven double faults through her opening four matches at Melbourne Park but struck a whopping 12 in her three-hour quarter-final victory over Kanepi on Wednesday.
- Swiatek improves to 30-2 against players ranked outside the top 30 at Slams.
- Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova have reached their third consecutive Australian Open doubles semi-final together with victory over Caroline Dolehide and Storm Sanders on Wednesday.
- With her title victory alongside her compatriot De Groot on Wednesday, Van Koot now owns 20 wheelchair doubles Grand Slam titles.
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