Monday, January 23, 2012

Australian Open Report: Fourth Round

Let's talk about the women first. The top four have been insanely on form this whole tournament. Combined, they have lost only two sets heading into the quarterfinals with plenty of lopsided matches in their favor. Maria Sharapova had been the most dominant of them all except she was finally tested in the fourth round by Sabine Lisicki. Caroline Wozniacki and Petra Kvitova also won easily against Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic respectively. Victoria Azarenka has yet to drop a set while Agnieszka Radwanska dispatched Julia Georges easily while Sara Errani shocks everyone by making it into her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

This is where it gets interesting. The blockbuster fourth round match-up everyone had been waiting for since the draw came out was a re-match of last year's final between Li Na and Kim Clijsters. Let's just say it lived up to the hype. At 3-3 in the first set Clijsters twisted her ankle and after getting it checked out continued to play and lose the first set. Li would jump ahead in the second set with an early break, but Clijsters recovered to force a tiebreak. Li again jumped ahead 5-1 and then 6-2 with four match points, but incredibly Clijsters saved them all and won to force a final set where Clijsters eked out a win against an obviously stunned Li. And if that was an insane match, then I'm not sure what to call Serena Williams' inexplicable straight-set loss to Ekaterina Makarova. It's definitely the tournaments biggest upset so far and it also means that no American, men or women, are heading into the quarters.

Quarterfinal Preview
Kim Clijsters vs. Caroline Wozniacki
Victoria Azarenka vs. Julia Georges Agnieszka Radwanska
Serena Williams Ekaterina Makarova vs. Sabine Lisicki Maria Sharapova
Petra Kvitova vs. Samantha Stosur Sara Errani

I only got half right, but in retrospect I guess I really underestimated Maria Sharapova while overestimated Samantha Stosur. I would have never guessed Errani or Makarova, but then again no Americans in the quarterfinals is also pretty damn rare. We'll see how Clijsters' ankle hold up as she's the only one I believe can break up the top four. I did predict Serena to win the tournament, so I guess I'll revise that to... Maria Sharapova.

Like the women, the top four men have made it through the quarters losing only two sets. Again like the women, the most dominant of them all, Novak Djokovic, was finally tested last night against hometown hero Lleyton Hewitt who managed to get a set off the defending champion. Andy Murray in the meantime made quick work of Mikhail Kukushkin who retired in the third set with a hip injury. Potential semifinal opponents Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have yet to lose a set and they both thumped Feliciano Lopez and Bernard Tomic respectively. David Ferrer and Juan Martin Del Potro also won easily against their opponents.

The lone upset of the round was Jo-Wilfried Tsonga losing to first time major quarterfinalist Kei Nishikori. While Tsonga easily won the first set, the heat must have gotten to him as he managed to win only three more games in the next two sets. He valiantly won the fourth to force a deciding set, but Nishikori held his ground to beat the Frenchman. Now I did say it was the lone upset of the round, but if you asked those who saw Tomas Berdych and Nicolas Almagro's match, they'd tell you differently. Berdych had to win in four sets and three tiebreaks to move on, but it was his behavior after the match was done that's been getting a lot of press. During the match Almagro hit the ball at Berdych's arm, not on purpose. Berdych then refused to shake his opponent's hands at the end, a classless move, thereby turning the Australian Open crowd against him.

Quarterfinal Preview
Novak Djokovic vs. David Ferrer
Andy Murray vs. Jo-Wilfred Tsonga Kei Nishikori
Roger Federer vs. Juan-Martin Del Potro
Rafael Nadal vs. Tomas Berdych

I'm actually shocked at how well I predicted these line-ups. I probably did as well as anyone out there unless some crazy psychic actually picked Nishikori to be a surprise quarterfinalist. I believe the top four will make it into the semifinals with Del Potro the only player I see who can break that up, which as a Federer fans worries me to no end. I'm still naively predicting a Djokovic-Federer final, but really it's all about the top four in the end.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for reading. Feel free to drop me a line. Instead of being Anonymous though, pick a name. Any name would do. Thanks again!