Australian Open 2017: Three to see on Day 7: Federer looks for a quarterfinal birth

published: Jan, 21, 2017

by: Ben Stevens

by: Ben Stevens

Except for ardent fans of both Simona Halep and Novak Djokovic, it’s fair to say the first six days of the 2017 Australian Open have been the most exciting first-week of grand slam tennis in recent memory. Underdog triumphs, star-making turns, marathon three- and five-setters… and that was all just on Saturday! If the second week of the tournament is half as good as the first, we’re in for a treat.

Also with the start of the second weeks comes the start of fourth round action, and a great selection of matches featuring names both big and small. Read on for the three to see on day 7.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) [12] v Dan Evans (GBR) – 4th match on Hisense Arena (not before 4:30 pm local)

Let’s be honest: trying to be like the pros is one of the main reasons we shell out hundreds of dollars on tennis clothes. Well, if you want to make the fourth round at the Australian Open, apparently all you need are some $20 plain-white tees from Uniqlo. Such are the fashion stylings of Dan Evans, who after being dropped by sponsors Nike in December has found career-best form, making the Sydney final and dumping both 7 seed Marin Cilic and 27 seed Bernard Tomic en route to the fourth round. And he might not be done yet, as while Tsonga is the firm favourite, just like the similarly heavy-hitting Cilic he’s prone to moments of cerebral flatulence, meaning Evans has a realistic chance of wearing him down the same way he did to the Croat. Combine that with a strong clash of styles (both fashion and tennis-wise), and could turn this into a highly competitive encounter, making it a very underrated matchup.

Roger Federer (SUI) [17] v Kei Nishikori (JPN) [5] – 1st match, night session on Rod Laver Arena

Coming in off the back of a straight-sets masterclass over Tomas Berdych, world-renowned vocalist and occasional tennis-player Federer comes up against an even tougher test in Nishikori. While Federer leads their head-to-head 4-2, the two haven’t played since 2015, so there’s still plenty of uncertainty going into this match. Compared to the previous round, baseline exchanges are set to take on a markedly different flavour for Federer, as he’ll concede advantages on backhand and movement to Nishikori, and have to make hay primarily with his forehand. The faster court should help the Swiss stay on the attack and keep points short, but Nishikori is comfortable playing that style and should have his own share of highlights. In the end, it could be a question of sustaining a high-level in the big moments rather than shotmaking, with only a game or two making the difference either way.

Angelique Kerber (GER) [1] v Coco Vandeweghe (USA) – 2nd match, night session on RLA

We’ve already lost the 2016 men’s champion, could the women’s champ be in danger too? Already featured twice in these previews, Vandeweghe has been one of the most impressive women in the draw, downing Roberta Vinci, Pauline Parmentier and Eugenie Bouchard en route to the fourth round, and Kerber has every reason to be nervous. The no. 1 seed has already had some struggles at the tournament, going three in each of her first two matches, although she got back-on-track in a 6-0, 6-4 stroll over Kristyna Pliskova. Kerber will once again need to be at her best to deal with Vandeweghe, as the lefty will be constantly hitting her forehand into the American’s massive backhand, and will have to find creative ways to avoid getting out-hit from the baseline. If Kerber was hoping her start to the second week would be easier than her first, she’s likely to be severely disappointed.

Ben Stevens

Contributor to TennisConnected. Long time player, coach and fan. Still waiting on Mark Philippoussis to break through at a major.

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