After all the conjecture about some sides of the draw being stronger or weaker than others it’s come down to some pretty interesting match-ups in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.
In the men’s singles, top seed Rafael Nadal faces sixth seed Marin Cilic against whom he has a 5-1 head-to-head record. However the Croat has the big serve which saw him reach the Wimbledon final last year and win the US Open a couple of years earlier. It’s far from a foregone conclusion that Rafa will take this one.
Third seed Grigor Dimitrov plays the first British male to make the quarters in Melbourne whose name isn’t Andy Murray since 1985 in South African born, Englishman Kyle Edmund. Will the side effects of his dramatic win over Nick Kyrgios cause the Bulgarian trouble? Edmund has a big serve and a game which could create issues for his higher-ranked opponent. A possible upset in the making.
The bottom half of the draw has one of the great feel-good stories of the Open. Two players who faced off in the first round of the ASB Classic a couple of weeks ago now meet again in the quarters of a grand slam. Hyeon Chung was an outsider for the last eight but Tennys Sandgren, ranked at 97, was never a thought of progressing this far. Both have interesting backgrounds and can pull on the heartstrings.
Chung’s victory over Novak Djokovic in the fourth round should have made any sports fan sit up and watch. While Sandgren is your good old American boy from Tennessee who loves playing on his first name, and scored a fantastic five set win over fifth seed Dominic Thiem in the last round. Which player holds up best from their previous match will most likely be the key to this contest.
Then there’s Roger Federer against No.19 Tomas Berdych. The defending champ has a 19-6 win/loss record against the Czech, including the last eight meetings between the two players and a win at the Australian Open last year. The stats tell the whole story.
In the women’s singles three of the top four seeds have survived. Top seed Simona Halep plays sixth seed Karolina Pliskova. Both are hungry for their first Grand Slam title. Pliskova has the power, but Halep the brain and ability to run the ball down.
The player with shots to win the tournament, but possibly not enough match play yet is 17th seed Madison Keys who takes on former champ Angelique Kerber. Kerber will stay in the rallies, while Keys will finish them.
In the bottom half of the draw, Elise Mertens from Belgium, who's unbeaten in 2018, should have the firepower to defeat fourth seed Elina Svitolina, while Carla Suarez Navvaro has made five career Grand Slam quarter-finals but won’t capture the crowd the way second seed Caroline Wozniacki does.
However Wozniacki is playing conservative tennis and needs to trust her attacking play if she wants to finish off her opponents if she wants to progress.