Novak Djokovic’s reign at Melbourne Park could be over tonight if he’s not able to recover in time.

But first, in the day session, a veteran giant-killer will try to slay the women’s Australian Open favourite.

Follow day nine of the Australian Open in our live blog, including live scores and the order of play at the bottom of this article.

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Djoker cagey on mystery injury

3:19

OSAKA ON SONG EARLY

World No.3 Naomi Osaka has made an impressive start to her quarter-final against danger opponent Hsieh Su-Wei, taking the first set 6-2.

The Japanese superstar is looking to extend her remarkable winning streak to 19 matches and make a second Australian Open semi-final.

Osaka entered the match holding a 4-1 win-loss record over the unorthodox Hsieh, but four of those matches have gone to a deciding set.

The 35-year-old Hsieh is contesting her first ever grand slam singles quarter-final and is coming off wins over seeds Bianca Andreescu and Marketa Vondrousova.

WORLD 200 LOSES IT AT COMMENTATOR OVER TWEET

World number 200 Sergiy Stakhovsky, who exited the Australian Open in the first round this year at Melbourne Park, has taken aim at a tennis commentator over a tweet posted about another player.

Nick McCarvel, who is a commentator and producer at the Olympic Channel, asked his followers on social media to like his post if they, like he, hadn’t ever heard of quarter-finalist Aslan Karatsev.

Stakhovsky took exception to this and accused him of being part of the reason why tennis is suffering on a global sporting stage and claimed he should know more about the Russian “if he was fit to do his job”.

As other tennis pundits joined the debate, Ukrainian Stakhovsky suggested that all these people do is nothing more than love the ‘big three’.

“This is exactly why our sport is suffering… and he is supposed to be a commentator…” Stakhovsky wrote.

He added on Instagram: “Last year there were not tournaments to follow, and he (Aslan) rocked those few.. guess you guys are comfortable with glorifying the top 4.

“Of course great run in GS is a ton of help.. But when a tennis commentator tells that he never heard of a player who is ranked 114 in the world I guess he is not really fit for the job.. the problem of tennis that only the big 3 get all the love..lots of talent loveless…

“Look there is no hate in my words. Just disappointment. It takes a very very long time to become a tennis pro… it takes enormous amount of effort, sacrifice, disappointment, failure to go through… yet once you make it to be looked upon like nobody or ‘tennis journeyman’.”

This is exactly why our sport is suffering…and he is supposed to be a commentator….??‍♂️??‍♂️??‍♂️ https://t.co/tPdiBiuGpF

— Sergiy Stakhovsky (@Stako_tennis) February 14, 2021

Sorry @DavidLawTennis but I can’t go without retweet on this one..
Is it the GLOrious Ben? The one who would sell his shoes for a story which he can twist his way?? I didn’t actually know that our sport consist of Slams only.. I guess football ? is only #superbowl right? https://t.co/KaFFxsKvzF

— Sergiy Stakhovsky (@Stako_tennis) February 15, 2021

ALCOTT, DAVIDSON COMPLETE FOUR-PEAT

Dylan Alcott and Heath Davidson have taken out their fourth straight Australian Open doubles title, prevailing 10-7 in a gripping match tiebreak to defeat second seeds Andy Lapthorne and David Wagner.

The quad wheelchair doubles title could serve as the perfect buildup for Alcott, who is looking to take home a seventh straight Australian Open title when he takes on Sam Schroder in the quad wheelchair singles final.

Alcott and Davidson’s partnership continues to pay dividends – the pair came from behind to take home gold in the quad doubles at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

NADALS BECOME LATEST TO QUESTION DJOKOVIC

Rafael Nadal has cast further doubt on Novak Djokovic’s mystery injury by declaring it would be “impossible” for him to win the Australian Open if he “really, really” had an injury.

Djokovic has refused to divulge any information on the injury he has suffered to his abdomen as the tennis world has questioned the severity of it after the Serb claimed he would have pulled out of any other tournament if it wasn’t a grand slam.

Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou, former British No.1 Tim Henman and Nick Kyrgios have all publicly suggested Djokovic was playing up to his injury.

He managed to dominate Milos Raonic in the previous round before facing dangerous youngster Alexander Zverev in the quarter final on Tuesday night.

And Nadal, who himself played through the pain barrier at the 2009 US Open and was left ruing the consequences, has questioned whether or not Djokovic really is going through the same thing.

“You do make mistakes because it’s impossible to know exactly what’s going on when you are competing,” he said. “For example, I remember in the 2009 US Open I started with a strain here in the abdominal.

“I started with six millimetres or so of strain and I finished the tournament, which I lost in the semi-finals, with 26 millimetres. Of course it wasn’t a smart decision.

“You need to find a balance, but of course at this point of my career, if there is a big chance to increase something very important, probably I will not play.

“For me the happiness is much more important than give me a chance to win. And at the same time, if you are bad, you will not win. That’s clear. If you really have physical problems, you will not win.

“If you have some pain and it’s not putting you in a situation that limits you, the movements, maybe you can find a way.

“But when you really, really have an injury, it’s impossible to win a tournament like this.”

Nadal’s uncle Toni, who coached him for most of his career, was a little more blunt about Djokovic’s situation in his column for El Pais.

“Who also seems to have overcome his physical problems is Novak Djokovic, who has managed to qualify for the quarter-final round after defeating Canadian Milos Raonic,” Toni Nadal wrote.

“In the case of the Serbian, it is surprising that so repeatedly annoyances come over him, to the point of sowing doubts about his permanence in the tournament, and then disappear overnight.”

DJOKER INJURY STILL HANGS OVER OPEN

Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open fate will rely on his ability to fight through an injury that would’ve seen him withdraw from most tournaments; and the skill of Alexander Zverev.

The Serbian eight-time champion sustained a “muscle tear” during a thrilling five-setter against Taylor Fritz on Friday.

He didn’t train the following day but took to Rod Laver Arena Sunday evening dosed up on painkillers to see off the threat posed by big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic over four sets and make the quarter-finals.

Djokovic said the pain was “bearable” and he “somehow managed to find a way and win”; but he didn’t train on Monday, instead working on his recovery ahead of his last-eight clash with sixth seed Zverev.

“I mean, it’s kind of a gamble, that’s what the medical team told me. It’s really unpredictable, you can’t know what’s going to happen with you once you’re on the court,” Djokovic said.

“You’re not gonna save yourself or think about going for that point or this shot or that shot. It just pulls you. It’s normal. Playing at this level, you just want to give it your all.

“It could cause much more damage than it is at the moment, but also could go in a good direction.”

The 33-year-old refused to say what exactly the problem was, although his abdomen was strapped against Raonic and he said after the Fritz clash that was it “a tear of the muscle”.

Zverev took Djokovic to the brink just a fortnight ago in the ATP Cup – when the Serb was at full fitness.

– with AFP

Clinical Nadal breezes past Fognini

1:06

THE GIANT-KILLING ‘FREE SPIRIT’ WHO CAN STUN OPEN FAVOURITE

In an era of regimented game plans, strict training regimes, nutritionists and pre-match routines, one player is refreshingly going her own way — Hsieh Su-wei.

“She’s a free spirit,” said long-time coach Paul McNamee after Taiwan’s Hsieh became the oldest woman in the Open era to debut in the quarter-finals of a Slam.

“That’s the same with her tennis. She kind of acts on a whim sometimes, doesn’t like to plan too far ahead.”

Australian Open wins over Tsvetana Pironkova, eighth seed Bianca Andreescu, Sara Errani and Marketa Vondrousova mean that the maverick will face Naomi Osaka, 12 years her junior, on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday for a place in the semi-finals.

“To think she’s 35 years of age, in her first Grand Slam quarter-final,” McNamee said.

“I always believed she had a Grand Slam quarter at least in her, quarter or a semis. She’s achieved that now. She ticked that box.”

McNamee, who has coached Hsieh since 2011, said he never knows what will happen next.

“She was playing a match in Eastbourne one day,” he recalled.

“She missed two balls in a row by three metres. I noticed she was playing with broken strings.

“She hadn’t broken a string for three years. She didn’t know what it was like. Players change racquets on the change of balls, right? She’ll go years with the same racquet.”

Eccentric or not, Hsieh’s natural talent was clear to see when she made her professional debut at the age of 16 in 2001.

Double-handed on both forehand and backhand sides, Hsieh went unbeaten in her first 33 matches on the ITF circuit and won five consecutive titles as a qualifier.

Lone spectator’s bizarre interruption

0:41

But it wasn’t until Hsieh linked up with McNamee in 2011 that she began to handle life on tour — and her career flourished.

“Before I worked with him, I have a lot of time alone,” said Hsieh about Australian McNamee, a former ATP Tour player.

“That was why it was not easy to improve or to find a way out. Sometimes, I had no one to warm up with.”

Hsieh broke through at the highest level when she won the Wimbledon doubles in 2014 with China’s Peng Shuai.

The pair won the French Open the following year. Then with Barbora Strycova she won a second Wimbledon in 2019 and ended 2020 ranked world number one in doubles.

McNamee was quick to credit Hsieh’s French boyfriend, Frederic Aniere, who has helped with coaching over the past few years, as the ageless Taiwanese reached new heights.

“It’s nice of her to give me some credit, but really Fred has been the one that’s helped her actually be more professional, if I can say that,” McNamee said.

“They live together in Paris. She likes Paris. Fred has been an amazing influence on Su-wei the last few years. It’s a team effort absolutely.”

World number 71 Hsieh, as befitting her laid-back attitude, is unflustered in exalted company.

She beat then world number one Simona Halep at Wimbledon in 2018 and now has 16 wins over top-20 players, 10 of them coming in the past two seasons.

She will be looking for another against Osaka, having knocked her out of the Miami event in 2019 — a second victory for Hsieh over a reigning world number one.

McNamee says his job is often simple, dispensing with the highly detailed analysis that some coaches employ, and just allowing the freestyling Hsieh to be herself.

“Sometimes you just have to back off and say nothing,” said McNamee. “I’ve learnt the joy of silence a lot working with Su-wei.

“You don’t want to put that talent in a box. You’ve got to let it rise and be free.

“There’s only one Su-wei.”

– AFP

Medvedev crushes McDonald to advance

1:06

AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2021 – DAY 9 – ORDER OF PLAY

Rod Laver Arena

From 12:30pm

Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE) v Naomi Osaka (JPN) [3]

Not before 3pm

Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) [18] v Aslan Karatsev (RUS)

From 7pm

Serena Williams (USA) [10] v Simona Halep (ROU) [2]

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] v Alexander Zverev (GER) [6]

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