Australian Open 2017 quarterfinals: What to expect in the women's singles
The 2017 edition of the Australian Open has been nothing short of remarkable. With only three of the top 10 seeds making it into the second week, one thing has become remarkably clear - the young and upcoming players are here to stay.
The upsets began to occur in the early round itself, with Simona Halep being among the first ones to exit in the opening match. The Polish No. 1 Agnieszka Radwanska soon followed the suit, after her shocking defeat in the second round to Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Similarly, the winner of the 2016 WTA Finals Dominika Cibulkova could only make it as far as the third round, before succumbing to Ekaterina Makarova.
Needless to mention, after the tournament is over, the new rankings will certainly shuffle the pecking order. Serena Williams is likely to regain her crown as the World No. 1, provided things go according to the plan for her.
The quarterfinal draws have been revealed and let us take a look at the interesting bouts, which are heading our way.
Coco Vandeweghe vs. Garbine Muguruza
The first quarterfinal game is going to be an absolute thriller between Coco Vandeweghe and Garbine Muguruza.
The unseeded American has been ruthless in Melbourne. Sailing high on confidence and momentum, this is a side which was dormant in Vandeweghe, up until now. The World No. 35 started the year slow with a second round run in the Sydney International, but she turned it all around when she came to Australian Open.
Three of her four victories in the tournament came against some of the most prominent names on the circuit. She started her run by moving past the veteran Italian Roberta Vinci in straight sets, which she followed with a similar win against Pauline Parmentier. Her last two wins were particularly interesting, as they came against Eugenie Bouchard and the World No. 1 Angelique Kerber.
The American was smart enough to capitalise on the poor form of the German, a feat that landed her in her first quarterfinal since June last year.
Considering Muguruza's form, she is regaining her form slowly and steadily after an uneventful 2016 season. She began the year by participating in Brisbane, where she was the semifinalist before losing to Alize Cornet. When she came to Melbourne, the seventh seed found herself going through an easy path.
Her opponent were the likes of Sorana Cirstea, Anastasija Sevastova and Samantha Crawford. Not so surprisingly, she didn't drop a set so far.
Considering the head to head record of the two players, Vandeweghe leads 2-1, but both those wins came in 2014. The two players last met in 2016 Cincinnati Masters, where Muguruza won the match in straight sets.
The Spaniard will be facing her first major test here, and it will be interesting to see how she plays this one.
Venus Williams vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
The next match is the one between the 13th seed Venus Williams and the 24th seeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Williams leads 3-2 in the head to head tally, but their last meeting took place back in 2014.
The American has enjoyed an easy route to the quarterfinal in Melbourne. Her performance so far has been quite impressive and the fans have had the chance to witness the World No. 17 play some quality tennis like she once did a decade ago. She came to Australia on the back of a poor performance in ASB Classic, Auckland, where she lost in the second round itself. But she has recovered well from her defeat.
Williams hardly faced any resistance on her path to the final eight, which makes this match an interesting one for her. Pavlyuchenkova has been sensational over the course of last week. Having reached the quarterfinal in Sydney, she carried on the same form to Melbourne and defeated the likes of Elina Svitolina and Svetlana Kuznetsova, without a hitch.
On one hand, Williams is significantly more experienced but lacks the momentum which the Russian has. This is solely going to come down to how the American will keep the energetic Pavlyuchenkova at bay.
Karolina Pliskova vs. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni
Coming to the second half of the bracket, there's the fifth-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova, who has been set up against the rising Croat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.
Of all the players on the tour right now, it is Pliskova who has been the most consistent. She started her season strong, by winning the Brisbane International and moving ahead with the same rhythm. Her endurance was tested in the third round by the Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, but the Czech survived with a score of 4-6, 6-0, 10-8, with the help of a massive 18 aces.
The secret behind the Czech's success lies in her confidence, following her spectacular 2016 season. Moreover, she has been working well with Petra Kvitova's former coach David Kotyza, who has played a crucial role in building her form.
As for Mirjana, she just made it to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal since the 1999 Wimbledon. After waiting for almost two decades, the Croat has not only won her first main draw match in Melbourne, but she also managed to reach the quarterfinal by defeating players like Agnieszka Radwanska, Maria Sakkari and Jennifer Brady.
The world no. 79 has struggled a lot with her form in her career due to several reasons, but this feat here has certainly given her a boost of confidence.
Against the Czech, she lags behind by 3-2 in the head to head tally, but most recent of those matches were played in 2015.
On one hand, there is Pliskova's momentum and confidence, while on the other, there is Mirjana's persistence and a will to fight. Both the players are on the brink of writing history here.
Serena Williams vs. Johanna Konta
Coming to the last quarterfinal tie, there's the second seed Serena Williams, who will be facing the British No. 1 Johanna Konta.
This is going to be the first time that the two players will be meeting each other.
Williams, who began her season on a disappointing note by crashing out early in Auckland, has bounced back superbly. With Angelique Kerber out of the way, she has now got a chance to take back what was hers - the World No. 1 crown.
The second-seeded American has been playing beautifully in Melbourne. She appears to be a lot more confident than she was previously, which is a great news for her supporters. She started her run against the likes of Belinda Bencic and Lucie Safarova, ad eventually moved on to defeat Nicole Gibbs and Barbora Strycova.
As for Konta, she started her year with great consistency and has continued to play in the same vein in Melbourne too.
She was the semifinalist in Shenzhen, which she followed with winning the tournament in Sydney, where she defeated the likes of Bouchard and Radwanska. In the Open, she had to face some big names such as Caroline Wozniacki and Ekaterina Makarova. Not so surprisingly, she managed to defeat both of them in straight sets, without breaking a sweat.
Konta's form, while absolutely remarkable, will need to be stepped up a notch against Serena. The gap in experience between the two players is massive, but the Brit's energy and stamina will aid her. She will need to be on the lookout for the massive forehand shots, on which Williams builds her game.