Both favourites are now out of the Australian Open as Stanislas Wawrinka upset Novak Djokovic in another epic late night clash between the pair on Rod Laver Arena, 2-6 6-4 6-2 3-6 9-7. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!
I really am in shock at this result, but in equal measures to the shock, I am so happy for Stan after some tough, tough losses to Djokovic. This loss for Novak snapped a 25-match winning streak in Melbourne and a 28-match winning streak on the tour that stretched back to last year’s US Open. Either Wawrinka or Tomas Berdych will be in the final. THE FINAL!!! While I come to terms with today’s results, here is the preview for Day 10.
Poll Results: 36% of people correctly called Bouchard beating Ivanovic. Well done to the 12 people on my blog who went for Wawrinka over Djokovic! 84% of the votes were for Djokovic to win.
TFF DreamTeam Update: The top three remains the same as yesterday with AO-EK leading the way.
1. Roger Federer v Andy Murray
Roger Federer produced a fantastic performance to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Monday’s late night match on the Rod Laver Arena, 6-3 7-5 6-4 and progress into the Australian Open quarter-finals. Federer was consistent throughout the one hour and 52 minute contest, hitting 43 winners to 21 unforced errors and making 41 ventures into the net, of which he was successful on 34 attempts. Tsonga was disappointing and had barely a sniff at the Federer serve all day, mustering just one break point. Federer now faces a repeat of last year’s semi-final with Andy Murray. There are a few players, who have had cakewalk draws and Murray is certainly one of them. His best performance of the tournament came in the third round when he beat Feliciano Lopez in straight sets. On Monday, he surprisingly lost the third set of his fourth round encounter to Stephane Robert, eventually sealing his place in the last eight with a 6-1 6-2 6-7(6) 6-2 victory.
Murray leads the head-to-head by 11 wins to 9; it was at the Australian Open last year when Murray claimed his first ever win over Federer at a Grand Slam. It was a brilliant contest with Murray clearly the better player, but still requiring five sets to get past the Swiss maestro (see video below). I think Murray has played well to reach this stage; however he hasn’t been tested yet and there is no denying he’s some way off his best form following the back surgery. Federer was great against Tsonga on Monday and that win will have given him a lot of confidence. Federer has demonstrated over the past year that he can be susceptible to throwing in a shocker. If he can maintain a relatively solid level in this match, I think he has the beating of Murray.
Prediction: Federer to beat Murray in 4 sets
2. Rafael Nadal v Grigor Dimitrov
Seven of the top eight seeds have made the quarter-finals and the one exception is Grigor Dimitrov. The number 22 seed had never been past the 3rd round of a Grand Slam until this week. Supported by new coach, Roger Rasheed, the Bulgarian has enjoyed a career-best week, which included four set wins over Milos Raonic and Juan Martin del Potro‘s conqueror, Roberto Bautista-Agut. Dimitrov’s reward is a match with Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard was pushed all the way by a tremendously committed performance by Kei Nishikori. It was the most aggressive I have ever seen Nishikori play and he hit some delightful drop shots. However Nadal the competitor remains a brutal force to get past and although Nishikori’s play warranted him at least a set, he came away from the match with nothing as Nadal won 7-6(3) 7-5 7-6(3) (see highlights below). Nadal and Dimitrov played each other twice last year at Monte-Carlo and Cincinnati and both matches went to three sets. Dimitrov has absolutely nothing to lose in this match and can go out swinging. Nadal has yet to drop a set and I believe he will come through another tight three setter.
Prediction: Nadal to beat Dimitrov in 3 sets
3. Victoria Azarenka v Agnieszka Radwanska
Monday threw up tricky opponents for Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska, but both players asserted their dominance to progress in straight sets. Azarenka won 6-3 6-2 over Sloane Stephens in what had been hyped as the match of the day from the women’s side. There were some feisty moments with Sloane hitting Azarenka during one point (see the video below!). Radwanska ended the 11-match winning streak of Garbine Muguruza, who ran out of steam after a marvellous series of displays in New Zealand and Australia. Muguruza put up great early resistance with the first four games taking a whopping 37 minutes; however once Radwanska consolidated the break to 4-1 in the first set, she raced to the finishing line, winning 6-1 6-3.
Azarenka and Radwanska only played once last year in Doha, compared to the six times in 2012, but all seven matches have brought up the same result. The pair seemingly fell out after a match in Doha in 2012 when Radwanska accused Azarenka of making a meal of an injury. Ever since then, Radwanska has always thrown in very limp displays against Azarenka and I would be really stunned if she got a set, let alone the match.
Prediction: Azarenka to beat Radwanska in 2 sets
4. Dominika Cibulkova v Simona Halep
Simona Halep made significant strides on the WTA tour in 2013, winning six titles on a range of different surfaces. The one area she had yet to prove herself was the Grand Slams, but times are changing and the attention around Halep is looked more and more warranted. The Romanian world number 11 beat Jelena Jankovic, 6-4 2-6 6-0 to reach a maiden Grand Slam quarter-final. I believe going into a Grand Slam with such a high seeding helped Halep settle after she came into the tournament with no victories in 2014. Her opponent in the quarters, Dominika Cibulkova is no stranger to a Grand Slam quarter-final, in fact she has made the last eight at all four Grand Slams. She enjoyed a big win over Maria Sharapova, the third time she has beaten the Russian star as she eased through the decider, 3-6 6-4 6-1 (see highlights below). Sharapova appeared to be carrying an injury and her exit didn’t come as a great surprise having struggled in her last two matches.
Cibulkova is a very useful player; however her consistency has been an area of concern as she often goes wandering for large chunks of the year without any notable results. Last year she started the year well in Sydney but a double bagel in the final to Agnieszka Radwanska appeared to affect her mentally until after Wimbledon. Rather astonishingly, she managed to beat Radwanska when they next played in the final of Stanford. This is a tremendous chance for both players so I anticipate it will be a very nervy affair. The pair last played in Indian Wells in 2013 where Cibulkova prevailed in two tight sets. Both have beaten top ten players this fortnight, both are playing well and both can win this. I’m going for Halep.