Australian Open 2013 Issue 8: 21 January

January 20, 2013 · Print This Article

by: Tom Cochrane

Top seed Novak Djokovic survived an almighty scare against Stanislas Wawrinka on Sunday night, the three-time Australian Open champion pushed to the brink of elimination before conjuring up a 12-10 victory in the fifth set.

Day 7 Recap

Trailing 1-6 2-5 amidst a barrage of powerful Wawrinka serves and backhands down the line, world number one Djokovic worked his way back into the second set, claiming 5 successive games to bag the set. It seemed as if the defending champion had weathered the storm when he took a 2 sets to 1 lead but the Swiss veteran Wawrinka pinched the fourth set in a tiebreaker and threw everything at the Serbian in the final set. With the clock having just ticked past the 5 hour mark, Djokovic triumphed on his third match point after an electrifying rally that seemed to sum up fittingly this most absorbing of duels.

Djokovic will be looking to rest his weary body before he fronts up against Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals, the Czech booking his spot with a straight sets win over Kevin Anderson that featured a spectacular 28 point third set tiebreaker. And despite Rafael Nadal’s absence from the tournament, a Spaniard is certain to feature in the men’s semi-finals after David Ferrer and Nicolas Almagro both progressed to the quarter-finals. The pair will play each other after Ferrer was too good for Kei Nishikori and Almagro benefitted from a mid-match retirement from Janko Tipsarevic, who struggled with a foot injury after playing successive 5-setters.

In the women’s tournament, Ekaterina Makarova upset fifth seed Angelique Kerber 7-5 6-4, whilst Agnieszka Radwanska scored her thirteenth consecutive win courtesy of a straight sets victory over Ana Ivanovic. Maria Sharapova continued her ruthless start to the tournament, coughing up just one game to Kirsten Flipkens, as former finalist Li Na returned to the quarter-finals with a win over Julia Goerges.

Matches of the Day – Day 8

1. Gilles Simon vs. Andy Murray

Gilles Simon plays a similar game to that employed by Andy Murray, the Frenchman possessing great court instincts and anticipation and able to effectively harness the power created by his opponents. I fear the Frenchman will be too fatigued from his epic win over countryman Gael Monfils to truly compete in this clash, given that both Frenchmen were totally out on their feet at the end of that 5-setter.

Murray wasn’t at his best against his occasional hitting partner Ricardas Berankis in the previous round and the Scot will be looking for a sharper performance in this clash. The third seed will be aiming to peak at the latter stages of this tournament and no doubt will hope to get through this match with a minimum of fuss. I think that’s a likely outcome. Murray in 3.

2. Milos Raonic vs. Roger Federer

Fresh from dumping one rising star out of the tournament in Bernard Tomic, Roger Federer now faces another young gun on the ATP Tour in Milos Raonic. The Canadian has looked good in the tournament so far and possesses a monster serve, but Federer knows the drill against such players: take care of your own service games, stay focused on the return games, and seize your break point opportunities when they arise, for they are likely to be few and far between.

Tomic tested Federer at different stages of their third round clash, especially in the second set, and I can see Raonic also causing a few problems for the second seed, particularly if the thirteenth seed can take a few of the sets to tiebreakers. I’ll back Raonic to claim a set but not the win. Federer in 4.

3. Serena Williams vs. Maria Kirilenko

Glamour girl Maria Kirilenko enjoyed a good win over Belgian seed Yanina Wickmayer in the previous round, but the Russian will need to take her game up a few notches if she is to bother Serena Williams in this clash. The American’s few issues in the tournament to date haven’t involved her opponent, but instead have revolved around an ankle injury concern and a self-inflicted fat lip.

Kirilenko has shown in the past that she has the abilities to upset the very best in the world, having dethroned compatriot Maria Sharapova at Melbourne Park a few years ago, but I think Williams will be too powerful and too aggressive in this match-up. Williams in 2.

4. Victoria Azarenka vs. Elena Vesnina

Top seed Victoria Azarenka survived a scare against American Jamie Hampton in the previous round, the defending champion temporarily losing her timing and her confidence before pulling herself together in the third set. I’m predicting a far more assured performance from the Belarusian in this match-up against Russia’s Elena Vesnina.

Vesnina is a competent singles player and an accomplished doubles player, having played in multiple Grand Slam doubles finals. This is Vesnina’s second appearance in the round of 16 at the Australian Open but I don’t think the Russian will improve on that feat. I sense Vesnina will struggle to combat Azarenka’s raw power in this one and that should make for a relatively easy day at the office for the top seed. Azarenka in 2.

5. Caroline Wozniacki vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova

This match pits a couple of players looking to re-establish themselves at the top of the women’s game against one another. Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki wasn’t entirely convincing in her third round win, and to my mind still needs to be more aggressive in order to truly challenge the world’s very best. That said, the Dane is a great counter-puncher and a consummate professional, making her very hard to beat.

Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova is a dual Grand Slam champion, having won a French Open and a US Open in years gone by. Kuznetsova is past her prime, to be sure, but like Wozniacki remains a true professional who loves to compete on the big stage. I favour Wozniacki as she is a better mover around the court than Kuznetsova is these days, but I think this could be a long one. Wozniacki in 3.

That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow.

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