Giving tennis more than a shot

Australian Open – Seven Familiar Faces And A Surprise (1)


The quarter-final matchups are now set for the 2013 Australian Open. From the 128 who started the main draw event a bit over a week ago, eight remain, and only one will be standing as the winner next Sunday.


If seven of the eight quarter-finalists are familiar faces, one of them is, without a doubt, the surprise of the tournament.


Part 1 – Top half

[1] Novak Djokovic vs [5] Tomaš Berdych
(Head-to-head: 11-1 Djokovic)

Novak DjokovicMany wondered if Novak Djokovic would come out flat after his 5h02 epic win over Stanislas Wawrinka in the round-of-16. I don’t think so. After all, he did something similar last year, winning a marathon semi-final against Andy Murray before taking the honours of a just as marathon final against Rafael Nadal, hasn’t he?


Furthermore, he is playing one of those rivals that he owns, Tomaš Berdych, who has logged his only win against the Serbian almost three years ago, in the Wimbledon semi-finals.


It is the first time the two players meet this season after three encounters in 2012, of which Berdych has only been able to take a set, in Monte Carlo, being most of the time “routined” in straight sets by his rival.


Tomas BerdychThe Czech has gone smoothly, and without much noise, through his draw, never dropping a set on his way to the quarter-finals, although almost unnoticed. He did what he had to, won his matches, moved on to the next.


Will it be any different tonight? Yes. First of all because he is playing the World no 1, unbeaten at Melbourne Park since 2011.


Second of all because despite having played a very long match two days ago, Novak Djokovic owns him, as mentioned earlier. Unless Berdych has suddenly changed his tactics (and grown some confidence) against him, this will be defeat no 12 for him to the hands of the Serbian.


[4] David Ferrer vs [10] Nicolás Almagro
(Head-to-head: 12-0 Ferrer)

The second top half quarter-final is even more lopsided than the first, in the fact that Nicolás Almagro has never been able to defeat David Ferrer despite valiant efforts from the man from Murcia.


David FerrerLike Djokovic vs Berdych, it will be the 13th meeting between the two players, but there stop the comparisons.


Almagro will play his first Grand Slam quarter-final outside of Roland Garros, where he reached that stage in 2008, 2010, and 2012, each time falling to Rafael Nadal. As for Ferrer, it is the fifth consecutive Grand Slam where he reaches the quarter-finals or better, and the third consecutive time at the Australian Open (semi-finals in 2011, quarter-finals in 2012).


In the course of this Australian Open, Ferrer has dropped only one set, to lucky loser Tim Smyczek in the second round, whereas Almagro has had a difficult five-set win in the first round against qualifier Steve Johnson. Except for those matches, both Spaniards have gone through their draw more or less smoothly so far, particularly Ferrer.


Nicolás AlmagroCan Almagro win today’s match? Of course. In tennis, everything is possible. Will he win? I think not. Ferrer’s relentless retrieving and patient point building has always given trouble to his countryman’s more aggressive game, constantly keeping Almagro on his toes and forcing him to overdo some of his shots, resulting in inevitable errors.


Today might not be different.


Nevertheless, knowing both players, it will definitely be a fight from beginning to end, albeit a brotherly fight as, after all, the two are very good friends, but an entertaining encounter it should be.


With Almagro’s beautiful, powerful backhand and Ferrer’s amazing angles, how can it not be so?


Coming up: the bottom half quarter-finals matchups

(Photos: Getty Images via Zimbio)


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