Australian Open 2013 Issue 9: 22 January

January 21, 2013 · Print This Article

by: Tom Cocrane

Day 8 at Melbourne Park saw Roger Federer and Andy Murray inch closer to a blockbuster semi-final showdown, with both players impressing in straight sets win.

Day 8 Recap

Murray featured during the day session and showed no mercy on Frenchman Gilles Simon, who was clearly weary from the outset after taking 4 hours and 43 minutes to dispose of his compatriot Gael Monfils in the previous round. Murray coughed up just 5 games for the match as he marched into the quarter-finals with ease.

Murray will next face Simon’s compatriot Jeremy Chardy, who has managed to ignore my disparaging remarks about his game to first upset Juan Martin Del Potro and then, on Day 8, defeat Italian seed Andreas Seppi. Chardy came back from a set down against Seppi to triumph in 4 sets and earn his first ever Grand Slam quarter-final berth.

Before a possible match-up against Murray, Roger Federer will need to get past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals. Federer was sharp against the big-serving Milos Raonic, taking his chances to claim a straight sets win, while Tsonga accounted for countryman Richard Gasquet in 4 sets.

In the women’s tournament, Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka also moved towards a semi-final showdown, with each player losing just 2 games in the fourth round. Williams whipped Maria Kirilenko to set up a clash with her protegee, Sloane Stephens, who beat the Serbian Jovanovski in a tough 3-setter, as Azarenka hammered Russia’s Elena Vesnina 6-1 6-1. Next up for the top seed is Russian veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova, who turned back the clock with a gritty 3 set win over former world number one Caroline Wozniacki.

Matches of the Day – Day 9

1. David Ferrer vs. Nicolas Almagro

It’s often very difficult to play matches against a compatriot, but David Ferrer seems to have no such problem squaring off against fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro, Ferrer having beaten the tenth seed in all 12 of the matches they have contested on the ATP Tour.

A winner, for the fourth successive year, in Auckland prior to the Australian Open, Ferrer once again looks in tremendous touch and was at his menacing best against Kei Nishikori in the round of 16. Almagro has the talent to push Ferrer, especially if his backhand wing is firing, but Ferrer’s tremendous results over the last 12 months suggest 13 won’t be an unlucky number for the fourth seed. Ferrer in 4.

2. Novak Djokovic vs. Tomas Berdych

We’ve seen plenty of examples in the recent past of Novak Djokovic’s incredible, seemingly superhuman powers of endurance and recovery, but can the Serb do it once again? The top seed was pushed to the limit by Stanislas Wawrinka in the fourth seed, as the Swiss star spent long periods of the match firmly in the zone, but Djokovic hung tough to grind out the win.

The world number one won’t be happy with his performance against Wawrinka, which saw the fifteenth seed dictate play against an oddly passive Djokovic. Look for the top seed to step inside the court in this clash and really get on the offensive against another high-quality opponent. Berdych has the pedigree to dethrone Djokovic, and has been in good form in Melbourne, but I expect a top-quality performance from the world number one today. Djokovic in 4.

3. Ekaterina Makarova vs. Maria Sharapova

After sensationally defeating Serena Williams to make the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park last year, Ekaterina Makarova has confirmed her love affair with the Australian Open in 2013, dumping fifth seed Angelique Kerber en route to a return to the quarter-finals.

Having beaten Williams last year, Makarova has to be given some sort of outside chance against the second seed Sharapova, but the former Australian Open champion has been utterly brilliant to date in this tournament, having dropped just 5 games across 4 matches. This might be a slightly tougher match, but I still consider Sharapova to be the warm favourite. Sharapova in 2.

4. Li Na vs. Agnieszka Radwanska

I’m predicting this to be a long and dour struggle, with Agnieszka “The Wall” Radwanska riding a 13 match winning streak in 2013 and Chinese superstar Li Na back at the venue where she shot to international fame in 2011. There’s no doubt that Li Na has the greater artillery of the pair, but Radwanska is a cagey opponent who gives her opponent virtually no free points.

If Li Na can serve well and attack the Radwanska second serve, she can certainly overwhelm the fourth seeded Pole. But the Pole is full of confidence at the moment and looks hard to stop. I’ll back Radwanska to squeeze through to the semi-finals in a tough 3-setter. Radwanska in 3.

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

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