Australian Open 2019 Day 9 Quarterfinals Preview: Nadal, Tsitsipas, Kvitova and Collins

published: Jan, 21, 2019

by: Ben Stevens

After eight days and 240 matches, we’ve finally reached the money rounds of AO 2019: the quarterfinals are upon us.

The stage at which the stakes become readily apparent for all involved, the eight players left in each draw are officially over half-way to a grand slam title. A win here and you can start dreaming. A loss, and you’ll be left to rue what could’ve been.

From legends to young hopefuls, from comebacks to surprise packages, Tuesday’s four matches have something for everyone. Read on for a closer look at each quarterfinal.

All matches on Rod Laver Arena (12:30 pm start)

Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) [22] v Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) [14]

From a potential 2018 men’s final rematch to, well… these guys, it’s a battle of party poopers when Bautista Agut and Tsitsipas square off. That said, there’s still reason to hope this party will be just as entertaining, as Agut’s mix of counterpunching and big forehands could be an interesting challenge for the all-out attack provided by Tsitsipas. Undoubtedly the favourite, Tsitsipas’ serve will keep the scoreboard pressure firmly on the Spaniard, while his net-rushing should do likewise in individual points, but if the Spaniard is able to put him in two minds with the occasional well-angled pass, he might be able to eventually turn the match in his favour. Still, the way he’s playing you should expect Tsitsipas to win, but not before Bautista Agut takes a set.

Not before 2:30pm

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) v Danielle Collins (USA)

The quarterfinal everyone saw coming, either Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or Danielle Collins get to officially claim the title of “AO 2019 Cinderella” with a win here. An exceptionally tough match to pick, Pavlyuchenkova has the advantage of this being her fifth career major quarterfinal, having downed two top-ten opponents (Kiki Bertens and Sloane Stephens) on the way, yet while 2014 and ’16 NCAA singles champ Collins may be a first-timer here, but comes in red hot, having just demolished Angie Kerber 6-0, 6-2 with a ruthless display of attacking tennis. A more measured attacking player herself, Pavlyuchenkova should look to play a more side-to-side game that asks Collins to find a winning angle before the Russian can close to net, but don’t be surprised if the American keeps her hot streak going and simply hits her off the court. Either way, don’t worry about the lack of star power, this should be a very fun encounter.

Night Session (from 7:00pm)

Petra Kvitova (CZE) [8] v Ashleigh Barty (AUS) [15]

A woman carrying the hopes of her nation, Ash Barty is Australia’s last remaining hope of a home champion, and more importantly, the only thing keeping alive Uber Eats’ offer of $2 Big Macs as long as there’s a local in the tournament. Now she gets Petra Kvitova, her conqueror in the Sydney final eight days ago, and a popular outside-choice for the title who has simply run through her competition thus far. That said, in Sydney Barty almost beat the Czech, and her sharp serving, tactically astute game should trouble her again here, as she should be able to control the tempo and direction with a mix of slice and well-placed shots. Whether it’s enough to stop Kvitova from getting her licks, it’s hard to say, but that awkwardness combined with a heavily pro-Barty/Burger crowd might be enough to cause the upset.

Frances Tiafoe (USA) v Rafael Nadal (ESP) [2]

With wins over Kevin Anderson and Grigor Dimitrov en route to his first major quarterfinal, it’s been a feel-good tournament for Frances Tiafoe, but that all ends now as he has the unenviable task of stopping a red-hot Rafael Nadal. Straight-up demolishing Tomas Berdych in his fourth rounder, Nadal looks like the most in-form player of the tournament, and with Tiafoe struggling physically in his own R16 tussle with Grigor Dimitrov, the odds would seem to be stacked against the young American. If Tiafoe is to have any shot at winning this, he simply can’t afford to get into the same slugfest he did with Dimitrov, and that means he’ll have to take massive cuts at the ball early and often, hoping he can elicit weak responses from the Nadal forehand and finish points with authority. Can he do it? Absolutely. For five sets though? Unlikely.

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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