Around the Tours – Jan 5: Qualifiers surprise in Adelaide
QUARTER finalists have been determined in Auckland, Adelaide and Pune, with one semi-final also already set to take place in the latter’s ATP250 event. While we have provided daily coverage on the United Cup the past week, the other four majors events – including the Adelaide ATP and WTA events – have been running concurrently with the major international team cup.
ADELAIDE INTERNATIONAL – WTA 500
The only 500 event in either the WTA or ATP Tours is down to the final eight, with the field largely missing key players due to the United Cup. In the absence of many top 10 talents, world number two Ons Jabeur headlines the field. Though four of the top six are missing from Adelaide, Belarusian power player Aryna Sabalenka, and Russian duo Daria Kasatkina and Veronika Kudermetova were other Top 10 players rounding out the four main seeds.
While Jabeur, Sabalenka and Kudermetova remain, the event has not been short on upsets, with the other five quarter finalists all unseeded, with two of them qualifiers. Marta Kostyuk has had quite the start to her WTA season with the Ukrainian world number 69 defeating Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in the Round of 16. That came after the Kazakh knocked off fifth seed Danielle Collins who had a less than ideal preparation to try and go one better than her Australian Open runner-up effort last year.
A surprise packet has been Czech qualifier Linda Noskova who showed sizzling form by stunning third seed Kasatkina in the opening round, then knocking off Claire Liu to now take on Grand Slam winner Victoria Azarenka. The winner from that clash will meet either Jabeur or Kostyuk in the semi-finals. Another player who has shown promising signs is Czech Marketa Vondrousova, with the 2019 Roland Garros runner-up facing Sabalenka in the second round, coming off a 6-0 6-4 domination of Kaia Kanepi.
In the fourth quarter final, Kudermetova – who destroyed US Open winner Bianca Andreescu in a similar 6-4 6-0 fashion which included winning 12 straight games – will meet Romanian surprise packet Irina-Camelia Begu. She easily took care of seventh seed Latvian Jelena Ostapenko in the quarter finals after taking down Shelby Rogers in the first round.
 Ons Jabeur (TUN) vs. [Q] Marta Kostyuk (UKR)
[Q] Linda Noskova (CZE) vs. Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) vs.  Veronika Kudermetova (RUS)
Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) vs.  Aryna Sabalenka (BLR)
ADELAIDE INTERNATIONAL – ATP 250
Home nation hero Alexei Popyrin remains a chance for a surprise title, coming through qualifying to reach the final eight of the Adelaide International. Stunning second seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in the opening round and then American Marcos Giron in the Round of 16, he takes on Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka for a spot in the semi-finals. There he will meet either Italian Jannik Sinner – who knocked off another Australian in Thanasi Kokkinakis – or United States’ Sebastian Korda.
Unlike the bottom half of the draw, the top half went exactly to plan, with all four seeded players reaching the last eight. After trailing throughout the first set, top seed and world number five Novak Djokovic overcame Quentin Halys to set up a huge quarter final with Canadian Denis Shapovalov. The remaining quarter final is an all-Russian affair with third seed Daniil Medvedev coming up against eighth seed Karen Khachanov.
 Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs.  Denis Shapovalov (CAN)
 Daniil Medvedev (RUS) vs.  Karen Khachanov (RUS)
 Jannik Sinner (ITA) vs. Sebastian Korda (USA)
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) vs. [Q] Alexei Popyrin (AUS)
ASB CLASSIC (AUCKLAND) – WTA 250
Just three seeds remain in the significantly weakened WTA 250 event in Auckland, with top seed Coco Gauff not only the sole Top 10 player, but also the only player inside the Top 35. Second seed Sloane Stephens (37th in the world) bowed out in the opening round to Spanish qualifier, Rebeka Masarova. She also took the scalp of Anna Blinkova and faces Karolina Muchova in the quarter finals. Third seed Leylah Fernandez is looking as strong as ever with a crushing 6-0 6-1 Round of 16 victory over Austrian Julia Grabher which followed a 6-1 6-1 demolition of talented Czech teenager Brenda Fruhvirtova in the Round of 32.
Fernandez will face Belgian qualifier Ysaline Bonaventure in the quarter final, with top seed Gauff meeting Lin Zhu. Lin took down Venus Williams who earned a wildcard to the event, with Gauff defeating Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin in the Round of 16. In the remaining quarter final, seventh seed Danka Kovinic clashes with Slovakian qualifier Viktoria Kuzmova who defeated British US Open winner Emma Raducanu after the latter retired hurt at a set all in the match.
 Coco Gauff (USA) vs. Lin Zhu (CHN)
[Q] Viktoria Kuzmova (SVK) vs.  Danka Kovinic (MON)
[Q] Ysaline Bonaventure (BEL) vs.  Leylah Fernandez (CAN)
Karolina Muchova (CZE) vs. [Q] Rebeka Masarova (ESP)
TATA OPEN (PUNE) – ATP 250
Top seed Marin Cilic was forced to withdraw from the quarter finals clash with Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor, with the latter likely to be one of two from the Netherlands in the last four. Second seed Botic Van de Zandschulp takes on lower ranked German and qualifier Maximilian Marterer for a spot in the final four, with the pair up opposite ends of the draw. Sixth seed Filip Krajinovic faces dangerous Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi who is fresh off a great win over third seed Finn, Emil Ruusuvuori.
The other man through to the semi-finals to take on Griekspoor is Russian eighth seed Aslan Karatsev. The world number 59 dismantled Spaniard Pedro Martinez in the quarter finals with a 6-1 6-2 victory. Surprisingly despite being seeded, Karatsev had a tough draw that he was able to manoeuvre with wins over Pablo Andujar and Dutchman Tim van Rijthoven.
Tallon Griekspoor (NED) vs.  Aslan Karatsev (RUS)
 Filip Krajinovic (SRB) vs. Benjamin Bonzi (FRA)
Maximilian Marterer (GER) vs.  Botic Van de Zandschulp (NED)