By Ros Satar

  • Rafael Nadal [1] v Nick Kyrgios
  • Garbiñe Muguruza v Kiki Bertens [9]
  • Angelique Kerber [17] v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova [30]
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – The last of the fourth round matches will be played, and the quarter-finals will be set, and what a line up to start the second week of a Slam.

 

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Rafael Nadal [1] v Nick Kyrgios | Nadal leads H2H 4-3

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From the moment that the draw came out, this was the potential match-up everyone had their eyes on, outside of the obvious semi-final and final match-ups. Add to that Nick Kyrgios starting the ball rolling on the tennis players and tournaments donating to the Bushfire Relief efforts.

Being at the forefront of something bigger than him has always seemed to be the spark that Kyrgios needs – whether it was playing for his country at Davis Cup and ATP Cup or knowing that all his efforts will help others, his tennis has at times been sublime.

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal has breezed through his matches, taken to a tie-break once and yet to lose a set. As is often the way, in his early rounds if not troubled, Nadal breezes his way through and if he is to come unstuck, it will be when he faces far tougher resistance.

Kyrgios managed to keep his focus going despite being taken the distance by Karen Khachanov, and it has been a busy few months for him with Davis Cup and ATP Cup, and he looked absolutely shattered in his post-match press conference

There is also the fact that he will not be playing on his beloved Melbourne Arena, which accepts groundspass-holders in. This, of course, will be on Rod Laver Arena, so the dynamic of the crowd may be a little different, although you would hope that the Aussies will get behind their man.

Six years ago, Kyrgios burst on the scene when he knocked Nadal out of Wimbledon in the fourth round. Last year, Nadal made short work of him at Wimbledon in the second round, and has been very blunt about the aspects of Kyrgios’ behaviour that wind him up.

His serve needs to be firing, and his aggressive play will need to be challenged, as Nadal will want to pin him to the baseline, and keep him running. That is the danger point for Kyrgios after that exhaustive match against Khachanov.

Kyrgios will have to play the match of his life to take Nadal out. He certainly can test him, but the real question is whether his focus can stay throughout a long a brutal match.

Prediction: Nadal in five sets.

READ MORE | Tennis | Australian Open 2020 | Men’s Draw Preview

 

Garbiñe Muguruza v Kiki Bertens [9] | Bertens leads 3-2 (incl. ITF)

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Despite looking down and out suffering from a virus in her first round, Garbiñe Muguruza has looked to be a force to be reckoned with, especially looking at her demolition of the No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina in the last round. Teaming up with Conchita Martinez seems to be doing the trick already. Muguruza warmed up with a run to the Shenzhen semi-final and the Hobart quarter-final and is rounding nicely into form.

Kiki Bertens has pretty much flown completely under the radar throughout this tournament while brackets have imploded all around her. The Dutchwoman has yet to drop a set and has looked very sharp, although it is Muguruza who has the edge on hard courts.

Muguruza mixes defence and attack well, and generates a lot of power into a shots in a very ‘un-Spanish- way and in Bertens she will be up against a very solid all-rounder, who has really embraced that game on all surfaces instead of feeling show was a solid clay-courter, who could maybe play a bit on other surfaces.

This will be a fascinating battle, and likely to go the distance.

Prediction: Muguruza in three sets.

READ MORE | Tennis | Australian Open 2020 | Women’s Draw Preview

 

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Angelique Kerber [17] v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova [30] | H2H tied at 7-7

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Former champion Angelique Kerber is another player who has been largely going about her business unnoticed. She hit her first bump in the road with a tense three setter against Camila Giorgi. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova’s best performance was arguably her first win over the No. 2 seed Karolina Pliskova. It was a hard fought affair, with the momentum switching from side to side before the Russian won out in two tie-break sets.

Pavlyuchenkova has a solid serve and powerful ground-strokes as the base of her game, and now under the watchful eye of Sam Sumyk, she will be looking for more consistency. On that subject, it has been a little bit of a roller-coaster at times for Kerber, who appointed Dieter Kindlmann after splitting with Rainer Schuettler last July. He has worked with Pavlyuchenkova in the past, so Kerber will hope to get the inside track in a very close head-to-head.

Kerber will just run everything down, and can do so all day long, so she will be looking to make this as physical as possible, but the former champion just seems to have some momentum.

Prediction: Kerber in three sets.

READ MORE | Australian Open 2020 | Latest Tennis Schedules & Draws

Play starts on Day Eight at the Australian Open at 11am (Midnight GMT).

 

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