Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Australian Open Day 10: Quarter-Final Predictions

1. Roger Federer v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Roger Federer
Roger Federer continued his impressive dance through the draw as he had no problems in getting past Milos Raonic, 6-4 7-6 6-2.  I fancied Raonic to get a set off Federer, but he is still nowhere near close challenging FedererI will reiterate, that I think the Canadian needs to sort out his return game to have any sniff of cracking the top ten, let alone challenging in the latter stages of a Grand Slam.  Federer now takes on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who started to turn heads for the first time this week with a 4 set victory over fellow Frenchman, Richard Gasquet.  Tsonga, who has started working with Roger Rasheed, looks to have started the season in much more encouraging form than his end to 2012 at the ATP World Tour Finals.

Federer and Tsonga have an interesting record as the Frenchman has certainly enjoyed his successes over Federer; most notably he staged that remarkable comeback from two sets down to stun the Fed at Wimbledon in 2011 and has also claimed two wins in Montreal.  Of course, Federer still has a significant lead at 8-3, but there is something for Tsonga to work with.  I have predicted Federer to lose his first set in his last two matches and failed.  Third time lucky?

Prediction - Federer to beat Tsonga in 4 sets

2. Victoria Azarenka v Svetlana Kuznetsova
Victoria Azarenka
Victoria Azarenka has been the least impressive of the womens top three, but still took under an hour to halt the progress of Elena Vesnina, 6-1 6-1 in the 4th round.  The Russian appeared to run out of stream following her title run in Hobart, but Vika still has plenty to work on, especially that serve, which leaked seven double faults.  She will now play Svetlana Kuznetsova, who put in another richly encouraging performance to get past Caroline Wozniacki, 6-2 2-6 7-5 in an excellent match.  Last year, their match would have gone on and on because of Kuznetsova's increasing inability to close out matches, but as I mentioned two days ago, the six month break from the tour has appeared to completely refresh her game.

Kuznetsova certainly has the game to sneak an upset here if Azarenka is off her game.  She has beaten the world number one four times, but they all came before Azarenka had reached the upper echelons of the game.   I think this match will go three sets, but Azarenka has that bit more toughness and aggression than Wozniacki at the moment so I think the Russian world number 75 will depart the tournament, but in admirable fashion...

Prediction - Azarenka to beat Kuznetsova in 3 sets

3. Serena Williams v Sloane Stephens
Serena Williams
It's take two for American youth against American experience as Serena and Sloane will face off for the second time in 2013.  Serena Williams was at her best in yesterday's 6-2 6-0 demolition of Maria Kirilenko.  Serena served liked a demon with just one missed first serve in that first set and that was a foot fault! Kirilenko did not play badly at all, but was outclassed and outpowered.  Sloane Stephens has reached her first ever Grand Slam quarter-final and confirmed her place in the world's top 20 for next Monday.  She beat Bojana Jovanovski in one of the tightest of the 4th rounders as she overcame a passive slump in the middle to win, 6-1 3-6 7-5.  These two played in Brisbane where Serena faced arguably her most competitive match of the year so far.  I think Serena will be more convincing this time round, but kudos to Sloane for a superb start to 2013, whatever the result.

Prediction - Serena to beat Stephens in 2 sets

4. Andy Murray v Jeremy Chardy
Andy Murray
Andy Murray continues to tip-toe his way through the draw and it is unlikely that will change in the quarter-finals where he takes on the surprise quarter-finalist, Jeremy Chardy.  The Frenchman backed up his extremely suprising five set win over Juan Martin Del Potro in the third round with a competent four set win over Andreas Seppi.  Murray overcame Gilles Simon, 6-3 6-1 6-3 in a strange match with the Frenchman, who surprisingly did not retire having endured (and made us endure too) Gael Monfils in an epic slugfest in the previous round.  Murray and Chardy have played five times with Murray leading 4-1 in the head-to-head, but Chardy winning their last match in Cincy where a jubilant Murray returned to action for the first time after his Olympics win.  No upsets here, Murray through in straight sets, but I think this jog to the semi-finals will completely go against him in the semi-finals...

Prediction - Murray to beat Chardy in 3 sets

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