Monday, January 26, 2009

Australian Open: Strong Field "Sans Murray" in Men's Quarterfinals

While the women's seeds have fallen left and right, seven out of the eight men's top seeds at the Australian Open will feature in the quarterfinals on Tuesday and Wednesday in Melbourne... + Fernando Verdasco of course!!

# 5 vs #14

# 1 vs #6

The quarterfinal matchups from the top half of the draw make it seem like there's a mini Davis Cup going on, with two Spaniards, facing two Frenchmen. Nadal is 2-1 against Simon, but the last time they played, was at the Madrid Masters semifinals, and Simon shocked the Spaniard in 3 sets, 7-6 in the third. The only previous Grand Slam meeting between the two occurred last year at the Australian Open, where Nadal ousted Simon from the third round in straight sets. Simon reached the quarters this year after his opponent, Monfils, retired due to injury, so it's tough to say how well he can perform against Nadal on Wednesday, especially that Nadal has been steamrolling everyone so far, including Fernando Gonzalez in the 4th round.

Tsonga and Verdasco have never met before on tour. Verdasco is coming off an incredible 5-set victory over Murray, and seems to have gained the kind of mental toughness required at this stage at a Slam (who knew the Davis Cup could give anyone such confidence?!). If Verdasco manages to maintain his form, which shouldn't be tough given the huge confidence boost he got from his victory over Murray, then this matchup will be very intriguing, and speculations that Verdasco can be this year's surprise finalist shouldn't be that far-fetched. On the other hand, Tsonga was extremely solid against Blake in the 4th round, and made it look easy against the skillful American.

# 3 vs # 7

# 2 vs # 8

Quarterfinal matches from the bottom half of the draw take place on Tuesday. Roddick is scheduled to face the defending champion, Djokovic, on Rod Laver, not before 3pm Melbourne time.

Djokovic leads Roddick 2-1 and the last time they met, the Serb ousted Roddick from the 2008 US Open quarters in 4 sets. Following a 4-set challenge from Malisse in the opening round, Roddick has cruised to the quarters with comfortable wins over Santoro and Robredo.

Djokovic however, has had some tough opponents like Baghdatis and Delic, who both took the world number 3 to four sets. But Djokovic went through these matches with conviction, and managed to hold is ground on the important points.

Federer, whose 5-set victory over Berdych in the 4th round was described as "ugly", will face Juan Martin Del Potro for the 4th time. The Swiss champ has a clean record against Del Potro, most recently beating the Argentine in Madrid late last year. Given the fact that this is the Aussie Open, and people always expect upsets and surprise finalists, some may say that Del Potro can pull it off, but I don't think Federer will be losing to anyone other than Nadal (if they meet) this tournament, despite the sluggish performance against Berdych.

Federer plays Del Potro last on Rod Laver, following the Safina-Dokic quarterfinal scheduled at 7:30pm Melbourne time.


khaled said...

Excellent work!
Have a nice day!

Reem said...

Thanks Khaled :)