On Australia Day all the fancied players on parade booked their places in the quarter final of the Australian Open 2015. All four men’s contenders ensured that the only missing link in the last eight would be that of Roger Federer who place in the draw has now been taken by the Aussie Nick Kyrgios. Led by the defending champion Stanislas Wawrinka who avenged his shock first round defeat at the French Open last year by beating the Spaniard Guillermo Garcia Lopez in four hard fought sets. The only Swiss player left in the tournament won his eighth match of the year including his successfull title defence in Chennai and now boasts 19-0 record in January 2014 & 2015. That sets up a revenge match against the US Open finalist from Japan Kei Nishikori; the only Asian hope left in the draw had ended Wawrinka’s run at the 2014 US Open in five sets in New York. He proved too strong for the dogged Spanish veteran David Ferrer winning in three straight sets. That should be a thrilling re match and the winner is a tough call but the Swiss has the added incentive of defending his crown and should reverse the result in his favour.
The other quarter final will be contested by the World no 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Canada’s Milos Raonic after both had contrastingly different wins. While Djokovic was too strong on the crucial points for Gilles Muller of Luxembourg winning under lights in the last match of the evening session in straight sets; the young Canadian Raonic needed five sets to outlast another Spaniard Feliciano Lopez who had bravely saved three match points against the American Dennis Kudla in the first round. Raonic thus becomes the first player from Canada in Open Era to reach the quarter finals; he also reached there at the French Open 2014 loosing to Djokovic and also lost to Roger Federer in the semi finals of Wimbledon 2014. The Serb has not dropped a set in four matches at the Open and would be fancied to reach the semi finals again after being stopped by Wawrinka last year. Should both win it would be the third straight year that they faced each other in Melbourne. Djokovic won a titanic fifth set 12-10 enroute to his fourth title in the round of 16 while Wawrinka was not to be denied as he prevailed 9-7 in the decider in the quarter final and claimed his maiden crown in 2014.
The evergreen 34 year old Venus Williams; winner of 7 grand slam titles turned back the clock to beat Poland’s no 6 seed Agnieska Radwanska in three sets to set up a meeting with 19 year old Madison Keys who won in straight sets against her namesake and fellow American Madison Brengle. However the 2012 & 2013 champion Victoria Azarenka was less fortunate as last years finalist Dominica Cibulkova proved her runner up finish in 2014 was no flash in the pan. She next faces the top seed Serena Williams who was once again pushed to three sets by Spain’s only remaining women’s representative Garbine Muguruza the no. 24 seed. It appears that the stage is set for the Williams siblings to contest their 26th meeting in the semi finals; the head to head record is 14-11 in favour of Serena.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: sportzcosmos@ ]