Australian Open: Quarter-finals set – Preview Part 1

By Britwatch Tennis

  • Serena Williams v Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska v Carla Suarez Navarro
  • Angelique Kerber v Victoria Azarenka, Johanna Konta v  Zheng 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 Open is set with the top half of the men and women’s draw on Tuesday, bottom half to play Wednesday.

Serena Williams [1] v Maria Sharapova [5] – H2H: Williams leads 18-2

This is the earliest the pair have met at the Australian Open, their first meeting hot on the heels of Williams losing to Sharapova at Wimbledon, and then again at the year end finals of that year.

In 2005 it was a taut three setter that ended 8-6 in Williams favour in the decider, but since then it has been straight sets all the way against Sharapova down under, in 2006 a veritable 6-1 6-2 drubbing in the final, and last year a closer affair. Had Sharapova just started that final with a little more intensity, we could have had a decent three set thriller on our hands.

After losing to Williams at Wimbledon in the semi-finals last year, Sharapova was resolute in that she was not looking to add anything different to her game, but she has been using a drop-shot more this tournament, and has loosened up her serve a little to get around that troublesome shoulder.

But Williams has played herself into solid form here and looks positively unbeatable, certainly by the Russian who just seems out of ideas now. Defending final points, it will be a continuing drop down the

 

Agnieszka Radwanska [4] v Carla Suárez Navarro [10] – H2H: Radwansksa leads 2-1

Neither had a straight forward fourth round encounter as they both came from a set down to book their place in the last eight of the Australian Open. Radwanska was aided and abetted by the unfortunate cramping and injury to her opponent Anna-Lena Friedsam but at the end of the day, it is all about who wins the last point.

Radwanska knew she had a very lucky escape and she knows that the Spaniard is no pushover. Suárez Navarro may lag behind on the head to head but she got the last win between them on the hard courts of Miami, on her way to the final there.

She has had some tough fights on her way through. Having to come from a set down twice. Her experience got her through a tough match with new Aussie sweetheart Daria Gavrilova. There battles are rarely quick, their last encounter taking over two hours, so this is far from ideal for whoever is likely to face Williams (or Sharapova).

 

Novak Djokovic [1] v Kei Nishikori [7] – H2H: Djokovic leads 5-2

We almost had the shock of the tournament as defending champion Djokovic was taken to five sets by the metronomical Gilles Simon. Clocking up a very (un)impressive 100 unforced errors, there was little for Djokovic to hang on to, other than the ‘W’.

So what do we learn from this (other than he can play as badly as the rest of us on a local court)? Not that he is simply unbeatable (although one could argue that), but more that he can be pushed to the limit.

He looked unbeatable the year that Nishikori ousted him after enduring a run of gruelling five setters, but this year has struggled at times with his wrist. That being said he has only dropped on set on his way to this point and Djokovic is two sets worse off.

OK, that probably means nothing in the scheme of things but Nishikori is another player who will run down all the balls, and will use uncanny angles to frustrate his opponents – if Djokovic allows him to play his game.

 

Roger Federer [3] v Tomas Berdych [6] – H2H: Federer leads 15-6

This could actually be the toughest of the quarter-finals on show. Roger Federer has been in pretty commanding form, dropping just one set to Grigor Dimitrov on his way here, and pretty much blowing David Goffin off the court.

Berdych as always has been quietly doing his thing. He kept his cool during the explosive match with Nick Kyrgios, where the Aussie was convinced he could hear music, and his antics may have gotten the better of him. He ended up dropping a set to the Aussie. But the Czech was to survive a bigger scare, being pushed to five sets by Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut.

It has been three years since Berdych has been on the winning side against the Swizz, and two years since he managed to take a set off him The clean-hitting Czech will have to step up his game considerably if he wants to make the semi-final once more.

 

The quarter-finals are all being played on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday and Wednesday, and start at 11am (Midnight, GMT).

 

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