Monday, January 21, 2013

AO Day 9 Preview: Welcome to the Big Time, Baby

Hey All...

Let's get stuck in right away.

Women's Singles - Quarterfinals RLA (ROD LAVER ARENA)

Na Li (CHN) [6] V Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) [4]

They have played 9 times. I will discount the one in Eastbourne 4 years ago, because Li withdrew injured. Li leads the head to head, too. Li has even handed A-Rad a bagel. Other scorelines include -- for Li -- 6-1 6-1, 6-2 6-1 (2012 Montreal), and 6-3 6-2. I think Li's style seems to match up well with A-Rad's, generally. It was clever to label this GS the "Grand Slam of Asia and Pacific" because it means you get the Asian market interested, too. Li Na loves this place like Stosur loves the French Open and the Williams like Wimbledon. She is 14-3 from 2010 till now at this place. She had the chance to beat Clijsters, too, don't forget. She has power off both wings and a pretty good serve. Li has been impressive this tournament. She is one of five left in the tournament not to drop a set. She was pushed by Govortosova and by Julia Goerges, too. But she is here now and looks very strong.

Rad is the only one of the top four who is slam-less. I'm going to be brutal now and I'm sorry. Generally and comparatively speaking, her record at the slams is above average at best. OK that Wimbledon final stands out, but if you put that aside it isn't great. She has never progressed past the fourth round at the French or US Open. She has three quarterfinals at the Aussie and three at Wimbledon. That final she reached looks great, but dig a little deeper and you find the draw was pretty open and she didn't face any tricky opposition until the last few rounds. She struggled past Kirilenko and then beat an exhausted Kerber. And then she nicked a set off Serena which makes it look pretty good. Another problem is she has no weapons. Predicting where your opponent is going to hit the ball is awesome, though. I think that is an amazing skill she has but when you have to crouch down to get power on your shots...well the point is while she is fun to watch and a great player she has no weapons. That is fine against Ivanovic and sometimes Sharapova, but she can't handle Azarenka or Serena or even Kuznetsova. She needs a weapon and it's something she does not have unfortunately. I mean, of course, like a forehand or something similiar. One shot which is her go to safety shot that she can whip out and use anytime. Li Na in three.

Women's Singles - Quarterfinals RLA

Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) [19] V Maria Sharapova (RUS) [2]

Queen of the Russians, Pova leads Makarova in their head to head. At this event last year, in the same round, these two played. The winner was Sharapova quite comprehensively. In fact, in all the previous meetings between these two, Makarova has taken just one set. The head to head is a real indicator of how this match will go. Sharapova has dropped just 5 games. Five games in four matches. She is in awesome form. In fact, I think Venus ought to be commended. Lesser payers may have almost shed tears. She stood firm to the last and still even at the end tried to fight.

Makarova put Brito to the sword and put away Gacon easily, too. She upset Bartoli in three epic sets. She then beat Kerber in two tight sets to ensure yet another Russian will be in a slam semi. She has a good serve and her forehand is a strong shot, too. OK I'm sorry but there may be a bagel in this match. It will not be close. Sharapova will cruise through here. Makarova has to keep the scoreline respectable.

Men's Singles - Quarterfinals RLA

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] V Tomas Berdych (CZE) [5]

There have been two retirements in the head to head between these two. Those aside, the Djoker leads 9-1. Berdych did beat him in the Wimbledon semis, though. At this event in 2011, Djokovic won 6-1 7-6 6-1. That is pretty straightforward. The Djoker played an epic against Stan and he will be exhausted. That was an absolutely fabulous match. Before that he had cruised through his matches. He will be exhausted and I think that fourth round will rob him of any hopes of getting a historic Aussie Open three-peat. He uses his whole body rather than just his arms on lots of his shots.

Berdych won an epic third set TB against Anderson 15-13 for a 6-3,6-2 7-6 victory. Apart from that set and one against Russell, he has not been pushed at all. He is extremely fresh right now. He has weapons. He has a big forehand and a big backhand, too. His serve is difficult to break, too. He will push Djokovic in this match. This will be another 3 to 4 hours wear and tear on Djokovic's body. In the end, though, look for a Djoker victory in four.

Men's Singles - Quarterfinals RLA

David Ferrer (ESP) [4] V Nicolas Almagro (ESP) [10]

Nadal normally goes and plays in Asia and rests himself during February. These two then go and play the same clay events each year as the top two seeds for all the clay events in which Nadal chooses not to participate. They have played 12 times with no retirements from either man. Ferrer is 12-0. Almagro cannot beat him. He just can't. It is a mental block. On hard courts, Ferrer is just as dominant, though. It does not matter what Almagro does. They have both played excellent tennis throughout the tourney, but this is only going one way. Ferrer in three straight sets.


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