G’day, mates. Still awake? I must admit in the second week the poor sleeping habits start catching up with me but this is where the tennis really heats up so that keeps me excited and awake.
On Day 8 of the Australian Open, the match that created the most interest was Raonic vs Wawrinka and it delivered on its promise by going the distance. Raonic probably had the biggest win of his career when he defeated Stan 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-3.
I joined the match in the second set and Raonic was looking lethal, serving huge as usual but also volleying and returning serve really well. It was almost frightening how well he was playing. Stan hit his stride in the third set though and leveled at two sets a piece.
Raonic had gone off the boil for the time being it seemed but in the fifth set he used a play which worked successfully earlier in the match for him to break serve, which was the slice approach up the line.
He looks fairly pleased I would say
Stan seemed to have difficulty with that shot and he missed again to give Raonic the break at 2-3. So that was good thinking from Raonic and he is now a serious threat. He is a very determined player, a bit like Djokovic, and he just keeps improving.
It seems getting rid of Ljubicic has worked in his favor as well because Moya is having a positive effect on his game. Moya was a slam winner himself and that always helps when a player wants to take that next step.
Raonic was also the kind of player who I thought was a bit one-dimensional and that he had too many weaknesses in his game, but the mental side is always the most important and like I said his hunger for success allows him to keep improving his weaknesses.
He is already a much better returner of serve and defensive player than in the past. His backhand has also improved. I think he will beat Monfils and a semi-final between him and Murray would be very interesting.
- Murray Straight Sets Tomic
I didn’t watch this but Murray defeated Tomic 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(4). So in the end, more or less what was expected. Murray now plays Ferrer who defeated Isner 6-4, 6-4, 7-5. Just too solid from the Spanish tank.
Murray leads the head-to-head 12-6 and won the only previous meeting in Melbourne in four tight sets. You’d expect Murray to win again but you can never count Ferrer out. That said, I do hope Murray and Raonic win because I think that would make for a good semi-final.
Murray looking fairly contented himself
So in the end, Stan’s draw did prove to be his undoing even though he never had to face Sock or Nadal. Getting Raonic in the fourth round after the way he played in Brisbane was always going to be a tough draw.
But if you are going to win slams these are the kinds of matches you need to somehow get through.
- Day 9 Preview
I already wrote about the upcoming quarterfinal matches between Federer and Berdych and Djokovic and Nishikori in my previous post but since I’m doing a post today I thought I’d elaborate.
Since 2014, Federer has started dominating the rivalry with Berdych(which he leads 15-6) again winning the last four meetings and dropping only one set in the process. The interesting thing is that he dropped that set in Dubai where the conditions are fast.
He also lost the preceding meeting to Berdych in Dubai 2013. For Day 8 they have been scheduled to play the day session and the weather forecast is sunshine which means fast conditions. That doesn’t necessarily help Federer.
It all depends on which Federer shows up I guess. But we have also seen Berdych play out of his skin in the past and defeat Federer. Something else on my mind is what effect it has on Federer’s psyche to keep losing to Djokovic in big matches.
We have seen with Nadal that it caused him to lose early in draws when there is the possibility of facing Nadal. But the fact that Federer and Djokovic are drawn in the same half and can therefore only meet in the semis I think mostly eliminates that issue for Federer.
He has now lost in three straight slam finals to Djokovic and I’m not sure he’d be overly keen on facing Djokovic in the Australian Open final after the Wimbledon and one US Open final losses. Djokovic vs Nishikori is also the evening match on Day 8.
So Federer won’t know who he plays if he wins. There does seem to be a familiarity with this slam and the previous two slams as far as Federer and Djokovic go, though. What will Federer’s state of mind be going up against Berdych today?
All I know is that Berdych is the kind of player who can take advantage if Federer is not 100% on his game. He will feel at home in the fast conditions and if he can get off to a positive start this could turn into a long match for Federer.
And he doesn’t want that. If he is to play Djokovic in the semis again he needs to defeat Berdych in straight sets or four sets at most to have any shot at defeating Djokovic. But since Djokovic still has to defeat Nishikori I won’t say anything more about that.
I do kind of like Djokovic’s chances, though. He leads the head-to-head 5-2, won the last four meetings, and defeated Nishikori 6-1, 6-1 at the World Tour Finals last year. I think he is probably feeling quite positive about his chances going into this match.
This situation has the feel of Wimbledon 2015 about it as far as Djokovic is concerned. There he was on the brink against Anderson in the fourth round before surviving in five sets. After that, he was unleashed as he lost only one more set before winning the title.
Something similar could happen here after he survived Simon. But we will see. Nothing is guaranteed and I am just looking forward to the tennis as I hope you are. If we knew what was going to happen it would take the fun out of it.
Can’t wait for the action to begin!
The is in your court.