It was an afternoon of shocks in the Australian Open on Tuesday.
Two of the tournament fancies – women’s singles fourth seed Elina Svitolina and men’s singles third seed Grigor Dimitrov – crashed out at the quarter final stage.
A pair of up and comers – 22 year old Belgian Elise Mertens and 23 year old Brit Kyle Edmund – did the damage and made a name for themselves on the grand slam stage.
Mertens’ dismantling of Svitolina was particularly jaw dropping.
She was through to her first grand slam semi final in just 1 hour 13 minutes following a 6-4 6-0 drubbing of Ukrainian Svitolina at Rod Laver Arena.
Mertens’ previous best grand slam finish was the third round at Roland Garros, but now she is one step away from an unlikely final appearance.
“It’s amazing,” she said.
“I mean, not expected, especially today.
“I played against her last year, really tough match. But, yeah, I was in the zone today. It was a really great match. I played really well, so I’m really happy.”
Mertens was dominant in all facets.
Her own serve was only broken once, while she feasted on Svitolina’s troubles with five breaks.
She was particularly damaging on the backhand with half of her 26 winners coming from that side.
Mertens also had three less unforced errors.
Mertens is becoming more confident by the day, but she is still not looking beyond her next training session.
“Well, today was a really good day,” she said.
“Tried to still progress in a lot of things. Also tomorrow try to do that one more hour of practice just to try to be better.”
Mertens might be planning in small steps, but she has already taken one giant leap in her career at this Australian Open.
Edmund is another surprise packet of this tournament, suddenly just one step away from a grand slam final.
No one expected the 49th ranked South African-born Brit to be one of the last four men standing, but here he is and he is relishing his chance to go deep into the tournament.
“I am loving it right now, just the way that I’m playing,” Edmund said.
“I’m 23 years old, my first grand slam semi final. First time I played on one of the biggest courts in the world.”
Edmund has taken the added focus and pressure all in his stride.
He admitted to a case of the big stage nerves – but it did not show in a 6-4 3-6 6-3 6-4 win over Bulgarian Dimitrov in 2 hours 49 minutes.
“It’s totally normal to feel nervous,” Edmund said.
“I just accepted that and just had things in place to basically deal with it. It’s not like I walked on court being nervous first time in my life. You still go on there and play your game. Today I just did that really well.”
The day of shocks continued in the night session.
This time it was more so shock horror as the top seeded Spaniard Rafael Nadal succumbed to injury in the fifth set of his quarter final against Croatian Marin Cilic at Rod Laver Arena.
Nadal was clearly limping at the start of the fifth set and medical attention was not enough to see him continue in the match.
After 3 hours 47 minutes, Nadal retired from the match, sending Cilic to the semi finals.
Cilic held a two-game lead in the fifth with the score 3-6 6-3 6-7 6-2 2-0 at the time of the retirement.
In the late game, Danish second seed Caroline Wozniacki beat stubborn Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro 6-0 6-7 6-2 to move through to the women’s singles semi final.