2015 Australian Open men’s quarterfinals preview: Which player will gain momentum in the home stretch?
After eight days of riveting action at the Australian Open, only eight players remain in contention to claim the first Slam of the year. And with most of the matches unfolding as per the seedings, there are no easy matches left for the players.
Considered to be one of the most open Majors in recent times on the men’s circuit, it remains to be seen whether there would be a change of guard or the usual dominance of the “Big Four” members still left in the tournament. One thing is for sure though – the fans can expect some exciting action as the remaining gladiators fight it out at Melbourne Park.
Note: You can watch all the action live on Sony Liv Sports here.
Here is a look at the quarterfinal line-up for the men’s singles draw:
Rafael Nadal vs Tomas Berdych: Can the ‘Berd’man overcome his losing streak?
Rafael Nadal has always been a favourite going into a match with the Czech No. 1. To put things into perspective, the last time Berdych beat the Spaniard in a tennis match was in the year 2006, when Nadal had won only two Grand Slam titles.
As things stand today, the King of Clay has 14 Major titles to his name as compared to none for his quarterfinal opponent. However, it’s a new match here, and you never know when a losing streak can be broken.
One thing in favour of the big serving Czech player is that he hasn’t dropped a set throughout the tournament, while Nadal had to endure a tough five-setter against American Tim Smyczek in the second round. However I won’t read a lot into that match, as the Spanish number 1 has overcome his opponents in the ensuing matches with considerable ease.
With the way Berdych served in his last match, I think he could take a set off Nadal, but won’t be able to secure that elusive win.
My Prediction: Rafael Nadal beats Tomas Berdych in four sets.
Andy Murray vs Nick Kyrgios: Home support or pressure?
Nick Kyrgios’ last match at the Hisense Arena witnessed a jam-packed stadium and a large Aussie contingent cheering for the local lad. With continuous chants of “Let’s go Aussie, let’s go!” and the match starting with the crowd singing ‘Advance Australia Fair’, the home crowd is expecting big things from the youngster and is egging him on to record a career-breakthrough win.
But the big question is: can Kyrgios handle the pressure of playing at home, or will he succumb to the prowess of Andy Murray? One significant factor here could be that the Australian is coming off a gruelling match against Andreas Seppi. Only time can tell how much toll that match has taken on his body.
On the other hand, Andy Murray has looked extremely good in his early round matches. But Murray’s match with Grigor Dimitrov showed that he is not infallible, and that sufficient pressure can force the Scot to make errors. If not for some weak serving games from the Bulgarian at the end of the fourth set, Murray’s progress may well have been in doubt.
I think with Kyrgios, with his mammoth serve, has the weaponry to counter Murray’s game. But can he sustain his power hitting over the course of five sets? Either way, expect a cracker of a contest at the Rod Laver Arena come Tuesday night.
My Prediction: Andy Murray wins in four sets.
Stan Wawrinka vs Kei Nishikori: Fasten your seat belts for a roller-coaster ride
The last time these two players met, tennis fans were treated to a thrilling five-set match. I am quite confident that this time around it would be no different.
So the question is: who will come through in this battle of equals? On one hand, Stan Wawrinka has gained momentum after his hard-fought win in the fourth round, while on the other Nishikori has settled well into his groove after some early hiccups in the tournament. The Japanese hit 43 winners against David Ferrer in the round of 16, mostly off his forehand side, while the backhand of the Swiss is one of the best in the game.
A factor that I feel will be crucial is the Japanese support in the crowd. There has been tremendous support for the Nishikori in Melbourne, and I think that could help him get past the line. With both players in good form, we could be in for a long match at the Rod Laver Arena.
Prediction: Kei Nishikori wins in five sets.
Novak Djokovic vs Milos Raonic: Will the ‘Djoker’ just go about his business??
While most of the players have had some ups and downs before the quarterfinal, the world number 1 has serenely moved through the draw by registering comprehensive wins against all of his opponents. Will the Serb be able to continue his form in the matches to come?
Well, for a tennis follower the answer would be yes. But this may not be as straight-forward a match for the top seed as it seems. Firstly, Djokovic has faced some trouble against big servers in the past (read defeat to Ivo Karlovic in Doha) and secondly, Milos Raonic is playing some of the best tennis of his life. Sure, the Canadian was pushed to five sets by Feliciano Lopez, but if he gets his big serves in, he can give any top players a run for his money.
If there is one player who could derail the Serb’s quest for the title, I would put my money on Raonic. Still, Djokovic’s defensive skills may yet win the battle; this will likely be a close match which I think will go the World No. 1’s way.
Prediction: Djokovic beats Raonic in five sets.