After the shock early exit of Swiss superstar Roger Federer, sanity was restored on day six as all the title contenders in the top half of the men’s draw safely made it to the last 16 of the Australian Open 2015. The world no. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia, defending champion Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland, Japan’s Kei Nishikori and Canada’s Milos Raonic were barely tested, while winner of the Doha event David Ferrer joined fellow Spaniards Feliciano Lopez and Guillermo Garcia Lopez. Probably the only unexpected result of the day was the straight set defeat of American number one John Isner at the hands of Luxembourg’s veteran left hander Gilles Muller. Hence the last 16 line up on Day Eight in the top half of the draw with my picks named first is :
Novak Djokovic v Gilles Muller
Milos Raonic v Feliciano Lopez
Stanislas Wawrinka v Guillermo Garcia Lopez
Kei Nishikori v David Ferrer
Swiss hopes rest only on the shoulders of the defending champion Stanislas Wawrinka who next plays Garcia Lopez. While the remaining Spanish players in the top half will have to upset the form book as veteran David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez will face off against the two young guns who are the only remaining seeded players born in the 1990s. Novak Djokovic looks like the player to beat at the moment as he withstood stiff resistance in the first set against the 2009 semi finalist Fernando Verdasco before winning in straight sets under the lights in the evening session. The left handed Verdasco who had lost a marathon 5 hour plus long match to fellow countryman Rafael Nadal; the eventual 2009 champion stayed on par with the Serb as the one hour long first set was decided by a tie break. Ferrer defeated the last remaining French hope Gilles Simon in four sets, while Feliciano Lopez and Garcia Lopez took out Poland’s Jersy Janowicz and Canada’s Vacek Pospisil respectively.
The women’s event saw the demise of the two time Wimbledon champion of 2011 & 2014; no. 4 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic. The tall Czech was bounced out of the tournament by the little known American Madison Keys in straight sets in the last match of the day on Rod Laver arena. That set up a match which is termed as “The Battle of The Madisons” as her compatriot Madison Brengle also won. They were joined by the Williams sisters who both had hard fought three set wins. The 2012 & 2013 champion Victoria Azarenka of Belarus continued her impressive comeback by winning in straight sets like Poland’s Agnieska Radwanska. Also winning was last years beaten finalist Dominica Cibulkova. Another mouther watering match up looks on the cards should Serena and Azarenka both win on day 8. That would be a repeat of 2013 US Open final which Serena won. While Serena plays Spain’s Garbine Muguruza the no. 24 seed; Azarenka will need to stop the run of the 2014 runner up Cibulkova who had lost to China’s Li Na who has retired. The other Williams sibling; the 35 year old Venus, winner of 7 majors squares off against Radwanska. Expect Serena, Azarenka and Radwanska to progress while it is hard to pick a winner in the battle of the two young Americans both named Madison.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: sportzcosmos@ ]