Australian Open 2016: Day 9 Preview

Milos Raonic of Canada has knocked out the 2014 champion Stanislas Wawrinka in the fourth round of the Australian Open 2016 to advance to the quarter-final on Day 8 at Flinder’s Park in Melbourne. The 13th seed from Canada slammed 24 aces and hit an astonishing 82 winners against the reigning French Open champion winning 6-4,6-4,5-7,4-6,6-3 in three hours and forty three minutes on the Rod Laver Arena.

Both players had won seven matches in 2016 entering this match, but it was the 25 year old Raonic who had been sidelined with injuries last year who established a two set lead against the fourth seeded Swiss. Wawrinka though was in no mood for surrender and took the next two sets forcing a decider. Raonic converted his fifth break-point on his fifteenth opportunity and took the the decider 6-3 sealing victory with a volley winner. He will next go on to play the 23rd seed Gael Monfils of France in the quarter final on Wednesday.

The mercurial Frenchman Gael Monfils faced the unseeded Russian Andrey Kuznetsov on the Margaret Court arena in the day session and fought bravely before falling in four sets in 2 hours 37 minutes. Monfils won 7-5,3-6,6-3,7-6(4). The other quarter final in the bottom half of the men’s draw will pit the second seeded Andy Murray of Scotland against the eight seeded Spaniard David Ferrer who registered comfortable straight sets wins on Monday.

Ferrer was playing the lone American left in the draw, the tenth seeded John Isner and grinded out a workmanlike 6-4,6-4,7-5 breaking the tall Texan’s serve once in each set on the Hisense Arena. In the evening session on the Rod Laver Arena Andy Murray took on the top Australian Bernard Tomic who disappointed the home crowd as he was sent packing in straight sets. Murray was in command throughout the two hour twenty nine minute match and won 6-4,6-4,7-6(4) hitting 43 winners and 18 aces in the match.

Meanwhile, the 2012 and 2013 champion Victoria Azarenka of Belarus is now the clear favourite to reach her fifth final as she once again breezed past her opponent Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic 6-2,6-4 in just 85 minutes without dropping serve in the entire match. She will now meet the highest ranked player in the bottom half of the draw when she plays the seventh seeded German Angelique Kerber who opened up the proceedings on Day 8 on the Rod Laver Arena against fellow German Annika Beck with an easy 6-4,6-0 win in 1 hour 28 minutes.

The remaining two ladies’ matches went the distance and there will be an unseeded player in the semi-final as the Briton Johanna Konta will face Shuai Zhang of China. Konta came from behind to win a marathon three hour four minute match as she upset the Russian Ekaterina Makarova 4-6,6-4,8-6.

Both players made many unforced errors, Konta had 43 while Makarova made 60. In the last match of the day the unseeded Zhang who took out the second seeded Simona Halep of Romania in the first round battled back from a set down to beat last years semifinalist Madison Keys of the U.S. 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in 1 hour 45 minutes.

The following is the line up of matches tomorrow with my pick mentioned first :-

Maria Sharapova (5) v. Serena Williams (1) ; Williams leads 18-2
Agnieska Radwanska (4) v. Carla Suarez Navarro ; Radwanska leads 2-1
Roger Federer (3) v. Tomas Berdych (6) ; Federer leads 15-6
Kei Nishikori (7) v. Novak Djokovic (1) ; Djokovic leads 5-2.

– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: sportzcosmos@gmail.com]

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