It was surprisingly smooth sailing for all the higher ranked players as Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer among men, and Serena Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska among the ladies advanced in straight sets on Tuesday at the Flinder’s Park in Melbourne.
It will be the 45th instalment of the second longest rivalry in men’s tennis as the five time champion from Serbia will battle the four time champion from Switzerland. The duo are locked at 22 wins apiece and Djokovic was 5-3 in matches between the two last year which includes the all important Wimbledon and U.S. Open final. The last time Federer beat Djokovic in a major was in the semi final at Wimbledon 2012 which he went on to win ( d. Murray) to claim his 17th grand slam title.
Federer started slowly against the sixth seeded Berdych who has beaten Federer twice previously in grand slam action. The first set was settled in a tie-break but Federer moved into another gear in the second breaking the Czech’s serve twice and claimed it 6-2. Berdych broke Federer in the second game of the thrid set, but then meekly lost the advantage as he lost serve the next game.
Federer broke the deadlock in the ninth game of the final set and served out the match. His winning scoreline was 7-6(4),6-2,6-4 in two hour and sixteen minutes. He hit 48 winners and converted five out of ten break point chances. Berdych could only convert two out of the six break point chances he created.
Novak Djokovic who had a marathon four hour thirty two minute win over the Frenchman Giles Simon when he had 100 unforced errors benefited from 54 unforced errors from the seventh seeded Nishikori and had his errors in check with only twenty seven to make his sixth semifinal at the Australian Open.
Djokovic went ahead 4-2 in the first set when Nishikori double faulted on break point. He claimed the first set in 31 minutes and broke serve in the first game of the second set. After a 11 minute second game in which the Serb saved two break points, the top seeded broke again in the fifth game and clinched the second set 6-2.
Nishikori broke in the second game of the third set but his comeback was short lived as Djokovic reeled off five of the last six games winning 6-3,6-2,6-4 in two hours six minutes. Although Nishikori had nine aces to Djokovic’s six and hit 31 winners to Djokovic’s 22, the 54 unforced errors was the deciding factor in favour of the top seed.
Earlier in the day, the fourth seed Agnieska Radwanska of Poland demolished the tenth seeded Carla Suarez-Navarro 6-1,6-3 in 81 minutes in the opening match of day 9 on the Rod Laver Arena. A lot was expected from the next match between last year’s finalist Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.
The Russian, who had lost the last seventeen matches between the two, got off to the best possible start breaking the Williams serve in the first set and consolidated it with a hold. Williams fought back and Sharapova trailed 0-40 in the eighth game but erased them and it was tied at 4-4 in the first set. Sharapova once again saved three set points in the tenth game but Serena closed it out with a forehand volley winner and from there on ran away with the second set to clinch victory 6-4,6-1 in 91 minutes.
The following is the list of matches on Day ten with my pick mentioned first:-
Victoria Azarenka (14) v. Angelique Kerber (7); Azarenka leads 6-0
Johanna Konta v. Shuai Zhang; tied at 1-1
Andy Murray (2) v. David Ferrer (8); Murray leads 12-6
Milos Raonic (13) v. Gael Monfils (23); Monfils leads 2-0.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]