Things went according to form on the first day of the Australian Open quarterfinals. Will that continue Wednesday? Well, that depends on what you consider form.
First, to yesterday. Tomas Berdych did what he does best, and that’s being content losing to the Big 4. Berdych hung tough early, forced a breaker but that was about it. He did manage an early break in the third but the match was effectively over by then. Federer looked great from just about everywhere and in every department.
Last year it was Berdych stunning Nadal. No such luck for the Czech on Tuesday.
Novak Djokovic also took care of Kei Nishikori quite swiftly in straight sets. Kei didn’t rise up to the bar he set back at the 2014 US Open when he stunned the Serb. And while Djokovic wasn’t at his very best, Kei fell flat and Novak rolled him real good.
So the mega-blockbuster semifinal is set for Thursday night between Djokovic and Federer who will meet for a ninth time since the start of last year.
As for today’s matches…
Andy Murray v David Ferrer
If you are tired and emotionally fatigued, David Ferrer is probably not the guy you want to play. And that’s Andy Murray’s next opponent Wednesday.
Murray commented after beating Bernard Tomic Monday night that he was drained from all the off court distractions ongoing in his life (Nigel Sears’s health, Kim’s pregnancy). And really, who can blame him? However, if he’s being truthful, then that’s a serious issue especially when playing Ferrer. And Ferrer been on fire.
The 33-year-old quietly hasn’t lost a set or even come close to losing a set in Melbourne with wins over John Isner, Steve Johnson and Lleyton Hewitt. It’s not murderer’s row, but with that new babolat David’s playing awfully well. Going up against Andy, though, is a different animal.
“With Andy, it’s going to be tough,” Ferrer said. “He’s playing really good. The last year he finish No. 2 of the world. He improve his game I think so. He’s playing more aggressive. He improve his forehand. So I need have a good day, play aggressive. Well, if is possible, will be a long match.”
Murray leads 12-6 winning their last five including a win in four sets last year at the French. So Murray’s the favorite, but if his head is somewhere else then he’s going to be in trouble.
That said, I’ll bank that’s not the case and take Murray. He’s better than Ferrer in almost every department and he’s done so well at the Australian on that court. In a close one…
The Pick: Murray in 4
Milos Raonic v Gael Monfils
I’ve long touted Gael Monfils as the next superstar of tennis, but the Frenchman prefers to be an entertainer rather than a champion. That’s his choice, his life. And he probably has a good one.
Meanwhile, Milos Raonic is the exact opposite. Watching his matches are exercises in sheer boredom. But unlike Monfils, he’s totally driven to be the best and he’ll do whatever it takes to get there. Just recently he snatched Carlos Moya and the results have improved. He won Brisbane beating Federer and he just beat Stan Wawrinka in 5-sets the other day. And I think he’ll beat Monfils as well.
“He’s playing well,” Raonic said of the Frenchman. “He’s very entertaining and he’s very difficult to play. He can give you complete ends of the spectrum within one game. So it’s very much of an internal match for me. I just have to take the game to him. I have to make him feel uncomfortable. Not let him get into his sort of playing comfort. If I can sort of keep up with the efficiency moving forward, I’ll have definitely some opportunities.”
Raonic didn’t say it, but the only reason Gael’s made it this far is the draw. And unless Raonic has a major brain cramp, the Canadian will advance.
With Raonic’s serve and Monfils dug in well behind the baseline, I expect Raonic to dominate from the net where he continues to improve.
Monfils will also be pleased to be playing under the lights where he’ll showcase his full array of foolishness. For him, that’s good enough. So everybody wins. Sort of.
The Pick: Raonic in 3
In the women’s draw, you have to like Victoria Azarenka, though I expect Angelique Kerber to give her a tussle. And I think Johanna Konta continues her incredible run beating qualifier Zhang.
Tennis Channel and ESPN will have live coverage once again.
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