I didn’t post yesterday, so I have some things to catch up on from day 5 at the Oz Open. First of all we had a look at Rafa’s form when he faced a decent player, Philip Kohlschreiber. It turned out to be a tough match, with Rafa edging out Kohlschreiber 6-4, 6-2, 2-6, 7-5. It was similar to Roger’s match against Andreev. Kohlschreiber had his chances in the fourth set, but as with Andreev, the moment was too big for him. He started making unforced errors when it mattered most. This is why Roger and Rafa are winning the slams, and not guys like Andreev and Kohlschreiber. Having said that, neither Roger nor Rafa look as confident as they have in the past. They both look human for a change. Both of them have potentially very difficult quarter final opponents.
Roger looks like he will face Davydenko, while Rafa could face Murray. We are not there yet, but I can’t help feeling that either of them could lose come quarter final stage. So far Davydenko and Murray has looked the best, neither having lost a set. That said, both have had probably the easiest draws. So in fact we can’t make any real conclusions. I think the fourth round matches will give us a much better idea. I don’t know about you, but I just love how this tournament is unfolding. With every round that passes, new secrets are revealed. In the fourth round there is hardly any easy matches. Roger, Rafa, Davydenko and Murray will all be tested, which should give us a better idea of where they’re at. Roger faces Hewitt, Rafa faces Karlovic, Davydenko faces Verdasco, and Murray faces Isner.
Personally I think all of them will win, but you just never know. Whatever happens, it will give us a better idea of what these players are really up to. Murray and Davydenko will be tested for the first time, while Roger and Rafa will both have tricky opponents as well. As I have remarked in my preview of the Oz Open, I really think that the quarter final stage of this tournament will be a pivotal point. That is where we will find out whether Roger and Rafa is really being caught by the fied like everyone says. But first Murray and Davydenko has to make it through, as well as Roger and Rafa, so I will not dwell on it too much just yet. Against Kohlschreiber, Rafa looked vulnerable, yet when the important moment came, he still got the job done.
Roger on the other hand had little trouble disposing of Albert Montanes. He wasn’t as impressive as he was against Hanescu though. The unforced errors actually outnumbered the winners, while against Hanescu the winners by far outnumbered the unforced errors. The thing that helped Roger in this match was once again the serve, which was about the same as in the Hanescu match. Off the ground there were too many unforced errors. There were too many mishits, and the backhand was erratic. If Roger plays like this against Davydenko he will lose, that much is sure. But it’s also just as sure that he won’t play like this against Davydenko. Roger has always played better as the tournament went on and risen to the occasion.
He now faces Hewitt, who got a walk over in the second set against Baghdatis, after Baghdatis had a shoulder injury. I think Hewitt could test Roger. Usually he doesn’t stand much of a chance, but after Roger’s match against Montanes, I’m still not convinced about his form. I do think however that Roger will win. Whether it will be another heart stopper I just don’t know. Maybe another heart stopper is just what Roger needs. Remember what happened after Roger beat Andreev? He was simply awesome against Hanescu. So maybe he needs something like that if he wants to beat Davydenko, even if as a fan it’s not so easy to endure heart stoppers. As for Davydenko, he had another easy straight sets victory over Juan Monaco, and is looking awfully good.
He now plays Verdasco, who also got a walk over after the first set against Stefan Koubek. Verdasco has looked pretty sharp of late, but whether he will beat Davydenko is doubtful. Davydenko just looks in very good touch and very determined to me. Rafa is playing against Karlovic like I said, who overcame Ivan Ljubicic in four tough sets. Karlovic has of course that huge serve, and he will be a tricky opponent for Rafa as well. But again I think Rafa will prevail. In other matches, Tsonga won over Haas in a tough four set match, while Roddick won over Lopez also in a tough four set encounter. Djokovic had an easy win over Denis Istomin, while Del Potro had yet another tough four set match against Florian Mayer.
I honestly don’t know what to make of Del Potro. He has been an enigma in this tournament. I think it has to do with his grand slam success at the US Open last year. He is still dealing with the pressure of expectation. He has now had the most court time of all sixteen players remaining in the draw. Surely at some point it has to take it’s toll, and I’m not convinced about his fitness either. He does however face Cilic next, who has had the second most court time so far, after a four set win over Wawrinka. This is probably the hardest of the fourth round matches for me to call. If I have to make a call I’d say Del Potro, just because he has done it all before. But even if he wins, he would probably have had another tough match against Cilic, and it must catch up with him eventually.
For the rest of the fourth round matches, I think all the top seeds will win, but it could be harder for them then we think. All the men’s matches from day 7 will be interesting, and I’m preparing myself for an absorbing night’s viewing. Laters.