No. 4 seed and defending champion Stan Wawrinka will meet No. 5 seed Kei Nishikori in the quarters at the Australian Open after the Japanese No. 1 made surprising quick work of David Ferrer on Monday, and Wawrinka barely avoided a five-setter against unseeded Spaniard Guillermo “G-Lo” Garcia-Lopez.
Renowned for his ability to break down opponents with his consistency, Ferrer was introduced to Ferrer 2.0 in Nishikori, whose defense was impenetrable and had some extra firepower to boot.
“If I can play like this I can stay top in the Top 10,” said Nishikori, a 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 winner. “I’m always ready to play five sets (against Ferrer) so am surprised to win in three.”
Wawrinka was up cruising two sets to love before G-Lo won the third, then had the Swiss staring down a tiebreak at a disadvantage in the fourth set.
“That level, you can change quickly. I did maybe two mistakes, then he start to play a little bit faster, a little bit more flat. I start to be on my defensive a little bit too much,” said Wawrinka who came back from 0-5 in the tiebreak. “At 6-2 [down in the tiebreak] I knew it was close to come back because I had the wind with me. I had to focus on every point.”
In the Monday late match, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic received all he could handle while still winning in straight sets, putting away big server Gilles Muller 6-4, 7-6, 7-5. He will next meet No. 8 seed Milos Raonic, who was a five-set winner over No. 12 Feliciano “F-Lo” Lopez 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-3.
Raonic says he will be able to give Djokovic some new looks in the quarterfinals.
“I think I’m doing things differently,” the Canadian said. “I’m moving better. I feel like I have it within myself. I just got to bring it out. I play for the opportunity to have a shot against the big guys at the big Slams. So the first week’s about getting through and giving yourself that opportunity.”
World No. 1 Serena Williams fought off sickness and a sick-hitting opponent to move into the quarterfinals on Monday on the women’s side at the Australian Open, avenging a former French Open loss by coming from a set down to defeat Spain’s Garbine Muguruza 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.
“I think I caught that bug,” Williams said about her coughing during the match. “Yeah, no, I’ve just been sick. I’ve been fighting it with vitamin C and all kinds of stuff. But I just have a really bad cough.”
Last year the world No. 1 won only four games against the Spaniard at the French Open.
“She made me play a lot better,” Williams said. “I had to play the best match of the tournament or else I was going to be out. I think she was just hitting winners like left and right. Every shot I hit, she basically hit a winner on. So I had to change my approach…When I have to go up a level, I have to. I can’t afford to stay at the same level or I will be where I was at the French Open.”
She will next meet Dominika Cibulkova, last year’s finalist, who defeated two-time Aussie Open champion Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
Venus Williams is in the last eight at a major for the first time in more than three years, and in Melbourne for the first time in five years, after upending No. 6 seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3, 2-6, 6-1.
“The first set wasn’t easy — it was 6-3 but about an hour,” Venus said. “In the third I think I went into a trance, and I just wanted to win.”
With new coach Martina Navratilova looking on, Radwanska rarely missed a first serve in the second set and jumped on the Williams second serve, but in the third Venus powered the scampering Pole off the court 6-1 with flat forehands and her trademark serve.
Venus’ quarterfinal encounter will be an all-American affair against 19-year-old Madison Keys, who defeated fellow American Madison Brengle 6-2, 6-4. It remains to be seen if Keys can keep her composure going her deepest in a Slam against the player she grew up idolizing on TV.
“I’ve lost to [Venus] before,” Keys said. “Venus is a big hitter, has a great serve, and can be very much on the offense.”
Up on Tuesday in Oz are (3) Simona Halep vs. (10) Ekaterina Makarova, (2) Maria Sharapova vs. (7) Eugenie Bouchard, (3) Rafael Nadal vs. (7) Tomas Berdych, and (6) Andy Murray vs. unseeded Aussie Nick Kyrgios.
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