Sunday, 22 January 2012

Australian Open 4th round preview part 2

Here are my predictions for tomorrows 4th round matches...

Serena Williams
Ekaterina Makarova vs. Serena Williams - Makarova has reached the 4th round of the Australian Open for the second consecutive year and has had a terrific run taking out the heavily fancied, Kaia Kanepi and number 7 seed, Vera Zvonareva both in straight sets.  Last year she faced Kim Clijsters at this stage and this time it is Serena Williams who has been barely worked by her three opponents so far.  Makarova is an inconsistent player, but when her swinging lefty serve is on the mark, she is a dangerous player.  I fancy a tight first set, but a stroll in the park after that for Serena.
Prediction - Serena to win in 2 sets

Sabine Lisicki vs. Maria Sharapova - This will be a rematch of the Wimbledon semi-final from last year, which will take place in the night schedule on the Rod Laver Arena.  Sharapova has been fantastic so far losing just five games in her first three matches.  Lisicki has struggled her way through with two three-setters, but showed some real fight and determination to get past Svetlana Kuznetsova in her last match.  Lisicki will have to serve well, which is something she failed to do in their last encounter.  She was also given a lot of oppoortunities in that match with Sharapova misfiring on serve and failed to even get a set.  This is not a good match-up for Lisicki so I cannot see any fight being enough against Sharapova.
Prediction - Sharapova to win in 2 sets

Sara Errani vs. Zheng Jie - There is always one section of the draw that sees the decimation of the seeds and its this section where the unseeded Errani and Zheng will meet.  Zheng has strolled into the fourth round, beating two seeded players in Roberta Vinci and Marion Bartoli.  Errani has had some tougher matches, but has been equally impressive.  Zheng is the clear favourite going into this match, but I fancy this to be very tight.  Errani won their previous encounter, but I would still stick by Zheng, who has yet to lose a match in 2012 to advance to the quarter-finals.
Prediction - Zheng to win in 3 sets

Ana Ivanovic vs. Petra Kvitova - Kvitova has managed to keep under the radar this week and had one scare in the second round against Suarez Navarro, but still looks to be in good form.  Ivanovic has played well, but it is always difficult to tell what Ivanovic is going to bring to the court.  There have been so many occasions in the past year (most notably in Beijing) where commentators were remarking that she is back to top form, but she never seems to consolidate her good performances.  Ivanovic has won their three previous encounters, but that was before Kvitova really became good.  I am going to go with an in-form Kvitova to sweep past Ivanovic in surprisingly straightforward fashion.
Prediction - Kvitova to win in 2 sets

Novak Djokovic vs. Lleyton Hewitt - Hewitt has had a difficult route to this stage, but as to be expected, he has shown real tenacity to pass by each challenge with flying colours.  Djokovic has looked simply awesome so far and has brushed aside his disappointing end to the 2011 season at the World Tour Finals.  I cannot see any other result than a Djokovic win, but i'm sure that Hewitt will run a marathon out there to try and keep up with the Serb.
Prediction - Djokovic to win in 3 sets

Richard Gasquet vs. David Ferrer - Both players have sneaked through the draw without making any headlines.  Gasquet has been most impressive as he took apart Tipsarevic in straight sets in the last round.  Their previous encounters have all been one-sided and Ferrer leads the head-to-head 5-1.  Gasquet is looking in good form so I expect him to give this a good fight but you should never underestimate the consistency of David Ferrer...
Prediction - Ferrer to win in 4 sets

Andy Murray vs. Mikhail Kukushkin - Murray is yet to face a seeded player in what has been a favourable draw up to now.  Kukushkin shocked Gael Monfils in the last round with some great ball striking, but I cannot see him threatening Murray who looked in immense form against Michael Llodra in the last round.  Murray did lose the opening set to Kukushkin when they played in Brisbane earlier this season, but that was Murray's first match of the season and he has progressed significantly since then.
Prediction - Murray to win in 3 sets

Kei Nishikori vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - Nishikori has done extremely well to reach the second week of Grand Slam for the first time in his career.  Tsonga has moved effortlessly through the draw, but has yet to really hit top form.  This will be a testing encounter for the Frenchman and I think it will be an entertaining clash, but the winner is not in question for me.
Prediction - Tsonga to win in 4 sets 

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