Recapping the best quarterfinal matches at the 2015 Australian Open
There were plenty of surprises leading up to the quarterfinal stages at the Australian Open this year. Among the women, the likes of Ana Ivanovic, Simona Halep and Agnieszka Radwanska faltered on their way to the last eight. The men’s draw saw fewer upsets, but the exit of four-time champion Roger Federer made the headlines.
Note: You can watch all the Australian Open action live on Sony Liv Sports here.
Once we got to the quarterfinals though, there was plenty of sizzling tennis from the top players, just as expected. Here is a recap of the best matches at the last eight stage:
1. Tomas Berdych overcomes the Nadal challenge
Before this match started, it was expected to be a no-contest in most parts of the world. Rafael Nadal had a 17-match winning streak against Tomas Berdych and looked in prime form to make it 18. However, Berdych had other ideas.
The Czech came with a clear gameplan. He relied on his big serve and went wide to Nadal’s backhand on the ad court and down the tee on the deuce court. The No. 7 seed won many free points on his serve and was brutal on his returns as well. He never allowed the No. 3 seed to settle into any kind of rhythm.
Nadal helped him along the way as he missed a lot of putaways on his forehand. But that may have been caused by the extent to which he was pushed against the wall by the belligerent forehands of the Czech.
Berdych won the first set with couple of breaks of serve. He then made life even more difficult for the Spaniard in the second set after converting three break point opportunities, and he ended up handing a bagel to Nadal. The 2009 Australian Open champion has been bagelled only thrice in Grand Slams, the last of which came in the 2006 Wimbledon Championships final against Roger Federer.
The third set was an even contest with Nadal stepping it up with his forehand down the line. Berdych was put under immense pressure in the latter stages of the set with Nadal getting two chances to break the Czech’s serve. But Berdych found his big serve just in time, which bailed him out of a tricky situation.
The set went to a tie break and Berdych looked like running away with the match as he led 5-2 in the breaker. But Nadal came back with an amazing deft volley near the net, and it was back on serve at 5-4.
The match was done and dusted when Nadal netted a backhand off Berdych’s second serve at 5-6.
Match Result: Tomas Berdych beat Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-0, 7-6 (5).
2. Madison Keys beats her idol
19-year-old Madison Keys was playing against someone whom she adored while growing up – Venus Williams. It was the first Grand Slam appearance for Keys and she did not let the pressure get to her in the early goings of the match.
Both players struggled on their first serve in the opening set, registering less than 50% on the first delivery. However, Keys converted both her break point oppportunities to take the first set in just 29 minutes. Williams committed 14 unforced errors against just nine by the youngster.
It was a close second set which saw five breaks of serve, with Williams making the most of her five break point chances. Keys committed 18 unforced errors in the set. The No. 18 seed broke thrice to even things at one set apiece.
Williams led 4-2 in the third set, before Keys struck a series of ferocious winners off her forehand to level the scores at 4-4. There was no looking back for Keys as she piled on more winners to reach her first Major semifinal.
“I’m very happy I’m into the semifinals, but the moment is definitely sweeter being able to play Venus,” Keys said. “You just have to enjoy the moment, and I did enjoy it, and I get to enjoy another moment next round.”
Match Result: Madison Keys beat Venus Williams 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
3. Clinical Stan Wawrinka sees off Kei Nishikori
In a repeat of the 2014 US Open quarterfinal, defending champion Stan Wawrinka took on No. 5 seed Kei Nishikori for a place in the last four. Wawrinka served magnificently and did not let the Japanese No. 1 gain any momentum on his serve in the opening set.
The Swiss broke early in the fourth game to go 3-1 up. That solitary break for sufficient for Wawrinka to wrap up the first set as he won 89% points on his first serve.
There were no break point chances for Nishikori until the last game of the second set. But Wawrinka held firm, saving three break points to lead by two sets to love.
The US Open runner-up did show signs of a fight in the third set tie breaker as he saved five match points. However, Stan the Man was too good for Nishikori as he progressed to the semifinal in straight sets.
Match Result: Stan Wawrinka beat Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (6).