Carlos Alcaraz insisted he was happy with his Australian Open efforts despite falling to a quarter-final loss against Alexander Zverev.

The Wimbledon champion had been in excellent form in Melbourne and threatened a comeback after a slow start but it was Zverev who moved through to the last four thanks to a 6-1 6-3 6-7 (2) 6-4 victory clinched at 1.19am.

In his seventh grand slam semi-final, Zverev will take on third seed Daniil Medvedev, who earlier battled past Hubert Hurkacz in five sets.

Alcaraz was heavily fancied to make it an all top-four semi-final line-up but he looked very tight at the start and Zverev took full advantage, barely missing a first serve and striking his groundstrokes with power and precision.

The German has faced a lot of off-court scrutiny regarding his forthcoming domestic abuse trial – he denies the allegations – but his ability as a tennis player is unquestionable.

Alcaraz briefly rallied in the second set but he was staring at defeat inside two hours when Zverev served for victory at 5-3 in the third.

The Spaniard was not done yet, finally breaking the Zverev serve and then playing a sublime tie-break, but ultimately there were too many errors from his racket.

This was Alcaraz’s best run in Melbourne, and he said: “It has been a good tournament for me, making quarter-finals, playing good tennis.

“I’m sad with my level today, because I have been playing good tennis, the round before this one with a lot of confidence. Serving pretty well.

“But in general I leave the tournament happy. Forgetting about today’s level. Obviously quarter-final of a grand slam is good. It’s not what I’m looking for, but it’s not bad.

“It’s a shame that I started the match like the way that I did and ending the way that I did. But it’s tennis.”

Alcaraz played down the impact of being without his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero, who is back in Spain recovering from knee surgery.

“It didn’t affect (me) at all,” said the 20-year-old. “As I said, I was playing great tennis without him. I had Samuel (Lopez), that is a pretty good coach as well. I trust him 100 per cent.”

Zverev, who lost his only grand slam final to Dominic Thiem at the US Open in 2020, received treatment for blisters on his foot at the end of the third set but rallied well, helped by a phenomenal serving display.

“When you’re up 6-1 6-3 5-2, you start thinking,” said the sixth seed, for whom this was a first win over a top-five opponent at a grand slam.

“It’s not always helpful but I’m happy I got there in the end. I fought back quite well in the fourth set.”

Earlier, Medvedev struggled in the heat of the day against ninth seed Hurkacz, who was looking to make the last four at a grand slam for only the second time.

The Pole twice fought back from a set down but Medvedev came out on top 7-6 (4) 2-6 6-3 5-7 6-4 after three hours and 59 minutes.

The Russian finished it off with a drop shot before blowing kisses towards his box.

Medvedev will now try to reach the final for the third time in four years, and he said: “I’m so destroyed right now. I was feeling very tired physically at the end of the second set already.

“In the fourth set, he played good, I wasn’t beating myself up. I had no more concentration, I thought, ‘I just have to try my best to do whatever I can. If I lose, I lose and I go home. It’s OK’.

“I’m happy that like this I managed to win and I really liked the match point.”

Carlos Alcaraz became the biggest casualty of the men’s draw so far at the Australian Open.

The second seed was beaten in four sets by Alexander Zverev, who will take on Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals following his five-set victory over Hubert Hurkacz.

Qualifier Dayana Yastremska made it through to the last four in the women’s draw, where she will play another first-timer in 12th seed Zheng Qinwen.

Picture of the dayPoint of the dayLongevityHewitt honoured

Former world number one Lleyton Hewitt was inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame.

Fallen seeds

Women: None
Men: Carlos Alcaraz (2), Hubert Hurkacz (9)

Who’s up next?

It is women’s semi-finals day on Thursday, with both matches taking place in the night session.

First up is a rematch of the US Open final, with defending champion Aryna Sabalenka hoping to turn the tables on Coco Gauff, before Yastremska plays Zheng.

British wheelchair stars Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid are in singles and doubles semi-final action, while Mingge Xu plays her girls’ singles quarter-final against Iva Ivanova.

Carlos Alcaraz’s hopes of a first Australian Open title ended in a quarter-final defeat by sixth seed Alexander Zverev.

The Wimbledon champion had been in excellent form in Melbourne and threatened a comeback after a slow start but it was Zverev moving through to the last four thanks to a 6-1 6-3 6-7 (2) 6-4 victory clinched at 1.19am.

In his seventh grand slam semi-final, Zverev will take on third seed Daniil Medvedev, who earlier battled past Hubert Hurkacz in five sets.

Alcaraz was heavily fancied to make it an all top-four semi-final line-up but he looked very tight at the start and Zverev took full advantage, barely missing a first serve and striking his groundstrokes with power and precision.

The German had faced a lot of off-court scrutiny regarding his forthcoming domestic abuse trial – he denies the allegations – but his ability as a tennis player was unquestionable.

Alcaraz improved at the start of the second set, finding some of the dynamic, all-court play that has made him such a fan favourite, but he could not take either of two break points in the sixth game.

He then found himself under more pressure in the following game and, after being given a time violation, he netted a forehand to drop serve again.

Alcaraz, who had comfortably beaten Zverev at the same stage of the US Open last summer, looked furious with himself but he could not conjure up any response as errors continued to flow from his racket.

The end seemed nigh when Zverev, who lost his only grand slam final to Dominic Thiem at the US Open in 2020, broke serve again to lead 3-1 in the third set.

But Alcaraz roused himself just in time to break the Zverev serve for the first time at 5-3 and then reeled off a string of seven absurd points to win the tie-break and take it to a fourth set.

The German received treatment for blisters on his foot and Alcaraz seemed to have the momentum but more errors helped Zverev break to lead 5-4 and this time he managed to serve it out, securing his first victory over a top-five opponent at a slam.

“When you’re up 6-1 6-3 5-2, you start thinking,” said Zverev. “It’s not always helpful but I’m happy I got there in the end. I fought back quite well in the fourth set.”

Earlier, Medvedev struggled in the heat of the day against ninth seed Hurkacz, who was looking to make the last four at a grand slam for only the second time.

The Pole twice fought back from a set down but Medvedev came out on top 7-6 (4) 2-6 6-3 5-7 6-4 after three hours and 59 minutes.

The Russian finished it off with a drop shot before blowing kisses towards his box.

Medvedev will now try to reach the final for the third time in four years, and he said: “I’m so destroyed right now. I was feeling very tired physically at the end of the second set already.

“In the fourth set, he played good, I wasn’t beating myself up. I had no more concentration, I thought, ‘I just have to try my best to do whatever I can. If I lose, I lose and I go home. It’s OK’. I’m happy that like this I managed to win and I really liked the match point.”

It was a back-and-forth contest throughout between the two big servers, who both move tremendously well for such tall men.

Medvedev edged the first set on a tie-break and looked to be in full control when, having dropped the second, he took the third and moved a break ahead in the fourth.

But Hurkacz, who had won his last two matches against the Russian and their only previous grand slam meeting at Wimbledon in 2021, did not allow his head to drop and levelled at 4-4.

It was now Medvedev under real pressure on serve, and Hurkacz clinched his opportunity to force a decider when his opponent sent a forehand long.

Medvedev had survived a five-setter in the second round, coming from two sets down to defeat Emil Ruusuvuori at nearly 4am.

And the third seed was not to be denied, a break in the seventh game proving the difference.

A drained Daniil Medvedev scrapped his way into a third Australian Open semi-final with a five-set victory over Hubert Hurkacz.

Ninth seed Hurkacz, who was looking to make the last four at a grand slam for only the second time, twice fought back from a set down but Medvedev came out on top 7-6 (4) 2-6 6-3 5-7 6-4 after three hours and 59 minutes.

The Russian finished it off with a drop shot before blowing kisses towards his box.

Medvedev will now try to reach the final for the third time in four years, and he said: “I’m so destroyed right now. I was feeling very tired physically at the end of the second set already.

“In the fourth set, he played good, I wasn’t beating myself up. I had no more concentration, I thought, ‘I just have to try my best to do whatever I can. If I lose, I lose and I go home. It’s OK’. I’m happy that like this I managed to win and I really liked the match point.”

It was a back-and-forth contest throughout between the two big servers, who both move tremendously well for such tall men.

Medvedev edged the first set on a tie-break and looked to be in full control when, having dropped the second, he took the third and moved a break ahead in the fourth.

But Hurkacz, who had won his last two matches against the Russian and their only previous grand slam meeting at Wimbledon in 2021, did not allow his head to drop and levelled at 4-4.

It was now Medvedev under real pressure on serve, and Hurkacz clinched his opportunity to force a decider when his opponent sent a forehand long.

Medvedev had survived a five-setter in the second round, coming from two sets down to defeat Emil Ruusuvuori at nearly 4am.

And the third seed was not to be denied, a break in the seventh game proving the difference.

Nick Kyrgios says the prospect of life after tennis now “excites” him as he takes to the commentator’s box for the Australian Open.

The Australian former world number 11 has taken time off from the professional circuit due to injury, filling in his time by working at the grand slam for Eurosport.

He wrote on Wednesday in Australian newspaper The Age that he is now seriously considering retirement.

“I’m at a crossroads in my career and have reached a point where life after tennis is a prospect that excites me,” he wrote.

His words come hours after he conducted his first on-court interview of the Australian Open on Tuesday night, speaking to 24-time grand slam winner Novak Djokovic.

But, despite enjoying his time in the commentator’s box, the 28-year-old says he still feels the urge to play.

“Over the past week being at Melbourne Park for the Australian Open, I’ve been happy,” he said.

“Of course, there’s a part of me watching on that would love nothing more than to be out there.

“I know I can be one of the best in the world and win major tournaments – if my body lets me.

“The fire still burns, but it’s not my everything.”

Kyrgios attempted a comeback in June. However, his return only lasted one match thanks to continuing knee and wrist injuries.

Kyrgios said a return to the professional circuit has not been totally ruled out, but he stressed he will not put his name forward to represent Australia at the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Dayana Yastremska is two wins away from emulating Emma Raducanu after beating Linda Noskova to reach the Australian Open semi-finals.

Raducanu is the only qualifier ever to win a grand slam title but Yastremska increased her tally of wins in Melbourne to eight with a 6-3 6-4 victory on Rod Laver Arena.

The stories are not exactly comparable, given Yastremska was ranked 21 in the world as a 19-year-old before serving a six-month provisional suspension for a failed doping test, for which she was later deemed to bear no fault.

But it is nevertheless a very impressive run from the Ukrainian, now 23, who is set to soar back into the top 30 from her current ranking of 93.

She is the second qualifier in the open era to reach the last four here in the women’s singles after Australian Christine Dorey in 1978.

Yastremska said: “I think it’s nice to make history because at that time I still wasn’t born. I’m super happy, and tired. I arrived here on January 3. On the days when I have a match, they do go very fast. When I have a day off, it feels like I’ve been here for six months already.”

This was a contest of first-strike tennis, with both women looking to seize the initiative in rallies as early as possible.

But it was the extra power of Yastremska that made the difference, with the Ukrainian hitting 19 winners compared to only six for 19-year-old Noskova.

“I don’t really feel like I’m playing really good,” said Yastremska, who has beaten Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova and two-time winner Victoria Azarenka during her run.

“I just try to play like I can and take the maximum from myself. Everything I have left is just fighting.”

Novak Djokovic suffered in the heat at the Australian Open but made it past Taylor Fritz and into the semi-finals.

There he will face Jannik Sinner, who finished his straight-sets victory over Andrey Rublev at 1.22am after long matches in the day session.

There will be a rematch of the US Open final in the women’s semi-finals, where defending champion Aryna Sabalenka will face Coco Gauff.

Picture of the dayStat of the dayBromanceMum’s the word

Gauff was not too impressed with mum Candi’s moment in the spotlight, saying: “I saw the video of her celebrating. I was, like, ‘it wasn’t that hard of a ball to catch. You know, celebrate your little wins’.

Fallen seeds

Women: Barbora Krejcikova (9)

Men: Andrey Rublev (5), Taylor Fritz (12)

Who’s up next?

The quarter-finals conclude on Wednesday, when Carlos Alcaraz’s battle with Alexander Zverev takes centre stage in the night session.

The winner will face either third seed Daniil Medvedev or ninth seed Hubert Hurkacz, while China’s Zheng Qinwen is the only seed left in the top half of the women’s draw and plays Anna Kalinskaya.

Czech teenager Linda Noskova, who beat Iga Swiatek in the third round, faces qualifier Dayana Yastremska in the opening match of the day.

Australian Open organisers faced criticism over scheduling after a long quarter-final between Novak Djokovic and Taylor Fritz delayed the night session by more than two hours.

Djokovic battled past his American opponent 7-6 (3) 4-6 6-2 6-3 after three hours and 45 minutes, with the match starting later than expected because of Coco Gauff’s lengthy clash with Marta Kostyuk in the opening match of the day on Rod Laver Arena.

Extending the tournament to 15 days this year and scheduling only two matches in each day session was meant to avoid the sort of early-morning finishes that have become increasingly common.

But there have only been two days out of 10 so far where play has finished by midnight, and Daniil Medvedev and Emil Ruusuvuori played until 3.39am in their second-round clash.

Tuesday’s delay meant women’s defending champion Aryna Sabalenka did not start her match, which had been due to begin at 7pm, until 9.10pm, and Jannik Sinner and Andrey Rublev were not hitting their first balls until after 10.40pm.

Discussions took place about potentially moving one of the night session matches to a different court, but that ultimately did not happen.

Fritz said: “It just screws up your whole clock. I pray for those guys. I get it, matches go long some days. Like, today in particular, my match was long, the match before us was really long.

“But there’s got to be something they can do where people aren’t playing until 2, 3am, because I don’t think people really fully understand how much time we actually have to spend doing stuff after we finish playing. If you finish at 2am, there is no chance I’m going to sleep until 5, 6am.”

Wimbledon is unique in having an 11pm curfew, but play at the other grand slams has no cut-off point, and, with the average length of matches increasing markedly in recent years, what was rare in now commonplace.

Djokovic said: “We’ve seen in the past some late finishes. And I know for the crowds and for the tournament in a way it’s kind of exciting to see a 4am finish, a 3am finish. I was part of some of those. But it’s definitely not fun for us.

“The good thing about the quarter-finalist on the men’s section is we have two days. So I think that’s plenty of time to get a good sleep and recover.”

Djokovic will also need time to recover after battling past Fritz and into the semi-finals in Melbourne for the 11th time.

The world number one has never lost here once he has made it beyond the last eight, and there is no doubt how much he wants a 25th grand slam title.

Djokovic had beaten American Fritz in all eight of their previous meetings but this was certainly not straightforward. The first game alone lasted 16 minutes and the first set 84 minutes as they toiled in the heat.

Fritz, looking to reach a slam semi-final for the first time at the third attempt, remarkably saved all 15 break points he faced in the opening two sets, and he impressively levelled the contest.

It was just the third set he had won against the Serbian, with the other two both coming in a third-round clash here in 2021, when Djokovic suffered an abdominal injury but still managed to win in five.

But Djokovic began to turn the screw in the third set as Fritz started to feel his left foot, and successive breaks in the fourth set him on the way to a record-extending 48th slam semi-final.

Speaking to Nick Kyrgios on court, Djokovic said: “I suffered a lot in the first couple of sets. Also due to his high quality tennis. He was really kind of suffocating me from the back of the court.

“It was really difficult to find the right timing, it was really hot while the sun was still out. We all know Taylor has got one of the best serves in the world. I knew the kind of a threat he poses when he serves on such a high quality.

“Conversion of the break points was really poor but I managed to break him when it mattered. I think I upped my game midway through the third set all the way through to the end.”

Fritz was left with mixed feelings, saying: “I played a really high level for the first two sets, and they were a physical, tough two sets. It was like two and a half hours by the time we finished the two sets. I need to get to the point where I can do that for five hours.”

Australian Open organisers faced criticism over scheduling after a long quarter-final between Novak Djokovic and Taylor Fritz delayed the night session by more than two hours.

Djokovic battled past his American opponent 7-6 (3) 4-6 6-2 6-3 after three hours and 45 minutes, with the match starting later than expected because of Coco Gauff’s lengthy clash with Marta Kostyuk in the opening match of the day on Rod Laver Arena.

Extending the tournament to 15 days this year and scheduling only two matches in each day session was meant to avoid the sort of early-morning finishes that have become increasingly common.

But there have only been two days out of 10 so far where play has finished by midnight, and Daniil Medvedev and Emil Ruusuvuori played until 3.39am in their second-round clash.

Tuesday’s delay meant women’s defending champion Aryna Sabalenka did not start her match, which had been due to begin at 7pm, until 9.10pm, and Jannik Sinner and Andrey Rublev were not hitting their first balls until after 10.40pm.

Discussions took place about potentially moving one of the night session matches to a different court, but that ultimately did not happen.

Fritz said: “It just screws up your whole clock. I pray for those guys. I get it, matches go long some days. Like, today in particular, my match was long, the match before us was really long.

“But there’s got to be something they can do where people aren’t playing until 2, 3am, because I don’t think people really fully understand how much time we actually have to spend doing stuff after we finish playing. If you finish at 2am, there is no chance I’m going to sleep until 5, 6am.”

Wimbledon is unique in having an 11pm curfew, but play at the other grand slams has no cut-off point, and, with the average length of matches increasing markedly in recent years, what was rare in now commonplace.

Djokovic said: “We’ve seen in the past some late finishes. And I know for the crowds and for the tournament in a way it’s kind of exciting to see a 4am finish, a 3am finish. I was part of some of those. But it’s definitely not fun for us.

“The good thing about the quarter-finalist on the men’s section is we have two days. So I think that’s plenty of time to get a good sleep and recover.”

Djokovic will also need time to recover after battling past Fritz and into the semi-finals in Melbourne for the 11th time.

The world number one has never lost here once he has made it beyond the last eight, and there is no doubt how much he wants a 25th grand slam title.

Djokovic had beaten American Fritz in all eight of their previous meetings but this was certainly not straightforward. The first game alone lasted 16 minutes and the first set 84 minutes as they toiled in the heat.

Fritz, looking to reach a slam semi-final for the first time at the third attempt, remarkably saved all 15 break points he faced in the opening two sets, and he impressively levelled the contest.

It was just the third set he had won against the Serbian, with the other two both coming in a third-round clash here in 2021, when Djokovic suffered an abdominal injury but still managed to win in five.

But Djokovic began to turn the screw in the third set as Fritz started to feel his left foot, and successive breaks in the fourth set him on the way to a record-extending 48th slam semi-final.

Speaking to Nick Kyrgios on court, Djokovic said: “I suffered a lot in the first couple of sets. Also due to his high quality tennis. He was really kind of suffocating me from the back of the court.

“It was really difficult to find the right timing, it was really hot while the sun was still out. We all know Taylor has got one of the best serves in the world. I knew the kind of a threat he poses when he serves on such a high quality.

“Conversion of the break points was really poor but I managed to break him when it mattered. I think I upped my game midway through the third set all the way through to the end.”

Fritz was left with mixed feelings, saying: “I played a really high level for the first two sets, and they were a physical, tough two sets. It was like two and a half hours by the time we finished the two sets. I need to get to the point where I can do that for five hours.”

Coco Gauff and Aryna Sabalenka will meet in a rematch of the US Open final on Thursday for a place in the Australian Open trophy decider.

While seeds have fallen around them, Gauff and Sabalenka have made it through to the last four for what feels like a de facto final.

Fourth seed Gauff survived her first test of the tournament, needing three hours and eight minutes to defeat unseeded Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk 7-6 (6) 6-7 (3) 6-2.

Defending champion Sabalenka, though, continued her record of not having dropped more than three games in a set with a swift 6-2 6-3 win against ninth seed Barbora Krejcikova.

The start of the night session was delayed by more than two hours because of long matches in the day, but that did not affect Sabalenka, who said: “I think it was really a great match today, I think I played really great tennis and I hope I can keep playing that way or even better.”

The Belarusian lifted her first slam trophy here last year and has been the most consistent female player on the big stage, reaching at least the semi-finals at every major since.

She was favourite to win another title in New York but Gauff turned the tables after losing the first set to claim a 2-6 6-3 6-2 triumph and lift her first slam trophy.

The 19-year-old American is through to the last four here for the first time, but it was a real struggle, with Gauff and Kostyuk committing 107 unforced errors between them.

Gauff trailed 5-1 in the opening set before fighting back to win it, saving two set points.

She served for the match at 5-3 in the second set but now it was Kostyuk’s turn to surge back, and it was not until the third set that Gauff took control of the match, opening up a 5-0 lead.

The teenager is the youngest American to reach the women’s semi-finals in Melbourne since Mary Joe Fernandez back in 1991, and she is two wins away from making it back-to-back slam titles.

“It was a fight,” said Gauff. “I think today was definitely a C game, so I didn’t play my best tennis, but I’m really proud that I was able to get through today’s match. Hopefully got the bad match out of the way and I can play even better.”

Kostyuk, 21, was immediately able to put the result into perspective, saying: “I think it’s just a tennis match. I’m here to grow, to learn, to be better.

“I’m very proud of myself. I won for myself today, and I think it’s the most important thing. It’s just the beginning of the season. I’m looking forward for what’s ahead.”

Kostyuk and countrywoman Dayana Yastremska both made the last eight – Yastremska may yet go further – while Elina Svitolina reached the fourth round, and all have used the opportunity to highlight the ongoing plight of Ukraine.

“I think the girls did really well,” said Kostyuk. “I hope we will be able to succeed in most of the tournaments, especially the big ones where there is a lot of media. I think people should be reminded.

“I was texting with some people from Kyiv. I said, ‘How is it? How are you guys?’ They said, ‘Well, we were looking between your score and where the missiles are flying’. So it’s still there. My parents are still there. My sister is still there.”

Novak Djokovic fought off a strong challenge from Taylor Fritz to reach the Australian Open semi-finals for the 11th time.

The world number one has never lost in Melbourne once he has made it beyond the last eight, and there is no doubt how much he wants a 25th grand-slam title.

Djokovic had beaten American Fritz in all eight of their previous meetings but this was certainly not straightforward, with the top seed finally securing a 7-6 (3) 4-6 6-2 6-3 victory after three hours and 45 minutes.

The first game alone lasted 16 minutes and the first set 84 minutes as they toiled in the heat on Rod Laver Arena.

Fritz, looking to reach a slam semi-final for the first time at the third attempt, remarkably saved all 15 break points he faced in the opening two sets, and he impressively levelled the contest.

It was just the third set he had won against the Serbian, with the other two both coming in a third-round clash here in 2021, when Djokovic suffered an abdominal injury but still managed to win in five.

But Djokovic began to turn the screw in the third set as Fritz started to feel his left foot, and successive breaks in the fourth set him on the way to a record-extending 48th slam semi-final.

Speaking to Nick Kyrgios on court, Djokovic said: “I suffered a lot in the first couple of sets. Also due to his high quality tennis. He was really kind of suffocating me from the back of the court.

“It was really difficult to find the right timing, it was really hot while the sun was still out. We all know Taylor has got one of the best serves in the world. I knew the kind of a threat he poses when he serves on such a high quality.

“Conversion of the break points was really poor but I managed to break him when it mattered. I think I upped my game midway through the third set all the way through to the end.”

Coco Gauff came through a three-hour battle with Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open for the first time.

The US Open champion had cruised through to the last eight but was pushed very hard by first-time grand slam quarter-finalist Kostyuk before clinching a 7-6 (6) 6-7 (3) 6-2 victory after three hours and eight minutes.

Gauff trailed 5-1 in the opening set before fighting back to win it, saving two set points.

She served for the match at 5-3 in the second set but now it was Kostyuk’s turn to surge back, and it was not until the third set that Gauff took control of the match, opening up a 5-0 lead.

The 19-year-old is the youngest American to reach the women’s semi-finals in Melbourne since Mary Joe Fernandez back in 1991, and she is now two wins away from making it back-to-back slam titles.

If she is to achieve that, she will surely need to play at a consistently higher level than here, with the pair making a combined 107 unforced errors.

“It was a fight,” said Gauff. “I think today was definitely a C game, so I didn’t play my best tennis, but I’m really proud that I was able to get through today’s match. Hopefully got the bad match out of the way and I can play even better.”

Kostyuk, 21, was immediately able to put the result into perspective, saying: “I think it’s just a tennis match. I’m here to grow, to learn, to be better.

“I’m very proud of myself. I won for myself today, and I think it’s the most important thing. It’s just the beginning of the season. I’m looking forward for what’s ahead.”

Kostyuk and countrywoman Dayana Yastremska both made the last eight – Yastremska may yet go further – while Elina Svitolina reached the fourth round, and all have used the opportunity to highlight the ongoing plight of Ukraine.

“I think the girls did really well,” said Kostyuk. “I hope we will be able to succeed in most of the tournaments, especially the big ones where there is a lot of media. I think people should be reminded.

“I was texting with some people from Kyiv. I said, ‘How is it? How are you guys?’ They said, ‘Well, we were looking between your score and where the missiles are flying. So it’s still there. My parents are still there. My sister is still there.”

Coco Gauff came through a three-hour battle with Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open for the first time.

The US Open champion had cruised through to the last eight but was pushed very hard by first-time grand slam quarter-finalist Kostyuk before clinching a 7-6 (6) 6-7 (3) 6-2 victory after three hours and eight minutes.

Gauff trailed 5-1 in the opening set before fighting back to win it, saving two set points.

She served for the match at 5-3 in the second set but now it was Kostyuk’s turn to surge back, and it was not until the third set that Gauff took control of the match, opening up a 5-0 lead.

The 19-year-old is the youngest American to reach the women’s semi-finals in Melbourne since Mary Joe Fernandez back in 1991, and she is now two wins away from making it back-to-back slam titles.

If she is to achieve that, she will surely need to play at a consistently higher level than here, with the pair making a combined 107 unforced errors.

British interest in the singles at the Australian Open ended with Cameron Norrie’s five-set defeat to Alexander Zverev in the fourth round.

The 19th seed came agonisingly close to another upset but lost out in a deciding tie-break.

Carlos Alcaraz eased into the last eight in Melbourne for the first time while Zheng Qinwen is the only seed left in the top half of the women’s draw.

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Unusually, no British players have made the quarter-finals of the men’s doubles. But there is guaranteed to be a British semi-finalist in the mixed doubles, where Joe Salisbury and Heather Watson play Neal Skupski and his American partner Desirae Krawczyk.

Fallen seeds

Women: Victoria Azarenka (18), Elina Svitolina (19), Jasmine Paolini (26)
Men: Cameron Norrie (19)

Who’s up next?

The quarter-finals get under way on Tuesday, with Novak Djokovic again given a day-session slot for his clash with American Taylor Fritz.

Coco Gauff is first up taking on unseeded Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk, while defending women’s champion Aryna Sabalenka plays Barbora Krejcikova at night.

The final match of the day pits fourth seed Jannik Sinner, who is yet to drop a set, against fifth seed Andrey Rublev.

Cameron Norrie leaves Australia convinced he can compete with the world’s best after suffering an agonising five-set loss to Alexander Zverev.

The British number one broke new ground with a brilliant attacking display to defeat Casper Ruud in the third round of the Australian Open on Saturday and again showed the new dimensions he has added to his game to push the sixth seed all the way to a deciding tie-break.

Norrie, who had not won a set in their four previous meetings, twice came from behind to force a decider but it is Zverev who moves through to the quarter-finals after a 7-5 3-6 6-3 4-6 7-6 (10/3) victory.

Norrie, the final British singles player standing, reached the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2022 but the draw opened up for him and he did not have to beat a top-30 player, which has certainly not been the same here.

The 28-year-old is still yet to beat a top-10 opponent at a grand slam, but he said: “I think Sascha (Zverev) is probably one of the best players in the world at the moment, and playing close with him and somewhat deep in a grand slam, losing in five sets, a few points in it, I think it’s exactly where I want to be.

“I can take a lot of confidence from that. It’s disappointing but I think it’s nice to know I’m just looking for ways to evolve my game. I was toe-to-toe with him. I got absolutely chopped by him in Vienna at the end of last year, and I managed to take a completely different approach.

“I think there’s still lots to come. I’m still 28 years old. I think you look at the longevity of the other players playing now, I think they’re getting better. I just want to keep learning and keep pushing and keep improving.

“I learned a lot last year and the years before. I know I’ve got the top-10 level in me. I want to just keep taking steps towards that. I’m having fun playing.”

The match was briefly interrupted in the third set by a protester, who threw ‘Free Palestine’ flyers onto the court from the front row of Margaret Court Arena before being forcibly escorted away by two spectators.

Zverev criticised the lack of a response from security personnel, saying: “They wouldn’t let me into the gym because I forgot my credential in the locker room.

“What are you doing? You’re protecting players from players. Something like this happens and it takes three, four minutes for somebody to show up. I think that should be the opposite. I think, when something like this happens, it shouldn’t be another fan dragging the other person out.”

Organisers defended the handling of the incident, saying: “As soon as the behaviour was identified and reported, venue security was deployed to detain the individual.

“The individual was subsequently evicted from the event. Two patrons were active in notifying security and stopping the protester, and we appreciate their actions.”

A coordinated protest also took placed on Kia Arena, with police saying two women were evicted from the tournament.

Norrie’s tactics against Ruud came as no surprise to Zverev, who spent the off-season practising with the British number one in Monte-Carlo.

A serve-dominated first set went the way of Zverev, who then broke to lead 3-2 in the second, but Norrie played what must be one of the best returning games of his career to hit straight back and took the set with a run of four games in a row, saving four break points.

The 19th seed was unable to come to the net as much as he did against Ruud because of the quality of Zverev’s passing shots but he kept the German on his toes with drop shots and short, angled slices.

Zverev responded to take the third set but Norrie upped the aggression again in the fourth, and, after an early exchange of breaks in the decider, he withstood pressure to keep his nose in front.

When Zverev opened the 10th game with a nervy double fault, Norrie must have scented blood, but the sixth seed did not allow him any more looks and the big disappointment for the British number one was that he could not maintain the same level in the tie-break.

Norrie blamed the balls, saying: “The balls were huge in the end, and he was able to get a better hit on the ball. I mis-executed a couple of balls, and he served really well. Nothing in it, and credit to him. I think he played a more complete match than me.”

Zverev was impressed by the level of his opponent, adding: “If he can play this way then for sure it’s going to make him improve.

“Incredibly aggressive, I thought. Taking the ball very early. He usually does that with his backhand, not so much with his forehand. For the first time since I’ve been playing him, I thought his forehand was better than his backhand.”

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