Australian Open: Quarter-finals Preview Part 2
By Ros Satar
- Serena Williams v Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska v Carla Suarez Navarro
- Angelique Kerber v Victoria Azarenka, Johanna Konta v Zhang Shuai
- Novak Djokovic v Kei Nishikori, Roger Federer v Tomas Berdych
- Gael Monfils v Milos Raonic, Andy Murray v David Ferrer
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – The quarter-finals line-up of the Australian conclude as the bottom half play on Wednesday.
Angelique Kerber  v Victoria Azarenka  – H2H: Azarenka leads 6-0
We have two players, with increased belief but a head to head that is beginning to be as crippling as that of Serena Williams v Maria Sharapova.
Quite aside from the fact that Azarenka is a two-time Australian Open champion, the last time the pair met was at the start of this month in the season opener in Brisbane. Although Kerber had fought her way through some tough matches (as had Azarenka) the Belarusian is in her mind.
This time around though Kerber has had a few scares, facing match-point in her first match, and having to fight against fellow countrywoman Annika Beck, she must feel pretty battle hardened by now.
As a complete contrast, Azarenka has yet to drop a set and has been in commanding form, surrendering the most games throughout the tournament in the fourth round to Barbora Strycova.
Kerber is one of the nicest people on the tour, but it looks as though Azarenka is ready to resume the mantel of life at the top and it is hard to see anyone other than the Belarusian advancing to the semi-final.
Johanna Konta v Zhang Shuai – H2H: 1-1
If there were stories of the ‘journey’ of the tournament, that this pair epitomises all of that. Konta hit the headlines on the first day, putting out eighth seed Venus Williams in straight sets. Since then it has been a continuing journey of confidence for the British No. 1 eclipsing all kinds of records mainly held by Jo Durie, who is here in Melbourne and could not be happier that someone is around to take them all.
But even Konta is outdone by Zhang who won her first main draw match 15 attempts. The outpouring of emotions on court won the hearts of many as she too has continued to go from strength to strength.
She found a way to get past the injured Madison Keys who still pushed her to three sets despite struggling horribly on court. There is no doubt that Zhang has had to work for this, and with three additional qualification matches under her belt, she already has seven wins in Melbourne.
This is impossible to call, as the rankings need to be thrown out and let the fates decide which unseeded player will make it to the semi-finals.
Milos Raonic  v Gael Monfils  – H2H: Monfils leads 2-0
Raonic could not have started his season any better. After losing his coach Ivan Ljubicic to Roger Federer, he delivered the best statement of intent, beating Federer in Brisbane, before demolishing 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka in five sets, having had a two-set lead.
Monfils has (quite literally) flown under the radar, but that did not stop him from some acrobatic feats that must have his coaches just cringing when he finally lands, all legs arms and paws.
Raonic reached the Wimbledon 2014 semi-finals and is bidding to be the one to break the strangle-hold on the majors from the Big Four (or Five, if we include Wawrinka).
Monfils is also looking to match his Slam best, after making the semi-final of Roland Garros and has bettered his previous performances here where he had exited in the fourth round in 2009.
The odds lie with Raonic on form, but Monfils could still push him to the limit.
Andy Murray  v David Ferrer  – H2H: Murray leads 12-6
This has all the hallmarks of being an extremely gruelling affair. The pair are renowned for their counterpunching and if we strapped a fitness monitor on them both, they will probably run the London Marathon and back.
Ferrer has roared through the draw and has not dropped a set, yet has been completely unnoticed except for his second round match against Lleyton Hewitt, where he called time on the Aussie’s singles career.
Murray has had a tough time of it though, coincidentally dropping a set to Joao Sousa just as his father-in-law Nigel Sears, coach to Ana Ivanovic, was having a medical crisis in the next court.
He admitted to having felt emotionally drained but the news was sufficiently positive for him to carry on and play his fourth round match against Bernard Tomic, where he ended home hopes.
We give Murray the edge, but this will be a slug-fest.
The quarter-finals are all being played on Rod Laver Arena, and start at 11am (Midnight, GMT).
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