Top seed and five time finalist Andy Murray, who is now assured of World number one ranking till Wimbledon, has joined his rival Novak Djokovic on the sidelines as he was dumped by the German Mischa Zverev, the little known elder brother of Alexander Zverev in four sets 5-7, 7–5, 2-6, 4-6 in the morning session of Day 7 at the Australian Open in Flinder’s Park, Melbourne.
Later on in the evening, in a somewhat dramatic style, Roger Federer who looked in serious danger of being bageled in the first set against Kei Nishikori of Japan, came back from a set down to win 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 in three hours and twenty three minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
Federer, seeded seventeen, dropped serve twice to go down 0-4 in the first set and looked in danger of being bageled for the first time in a grand slam since his infamous loss at the hands of Rafael Nadal in the 2008 French Open final. He clawed his way back to force a tie-break but Nishikori kept his composure to claim it 7-4.
Federer broke in the eighth game of the second set and then from a game down in the third set reeled off seven consecutive games to win it 6-1 and go 1-0 up in the fourth set. Nishikori regrouped to claim the fourth with only one break of serve in the fifth game and won it 6-4. He then required medical treatment trailing 0-3 in the decider but Federer remained unperturbed and served out the set 6-3.
Federer’s compatriot, fourth seeded Stanislas Wawrinka, the 2014 champion, won all three sets in a tie-break and considering his 3-0 record in grand slam finals looks quite capable of registering his fourth major title. He defeated the unheralded Italian Andreas Seppi, who had knocked Federer out in the third round of the 2015 Open and also the Australian Nick Kyrgios in five sets coming from a two set deficit.
For the record Wawrinka won 7-6(2), 7-6(4), 7-6(4). He goes on to face the 2008 runner up Jo Wilfred Tsonga of France, seeded 12th, who came from a set down to beat another Briton, the in-form Daniel Evans 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4, 6-4. There were no breaks of serve in the first set which Evans claimed in a tie-break, but from there on Tsonga took complete charge of the match and never faced a break point in the entire two hour fifty three minute match on the Hisense Arena.
Zverev ranked 50th in the world, lost serve in the fourth game but broke rightaway and evened it at 3-3. Just when it looked as though Murray would run away with the first set, the 29 year old Russian born Zverev reeled off four games to win the first set 7-5. Murray went ahead 3-0 in the second set but Zverev broke back in the eighth game to level at 4 apiece.
Murray leveled the match at one set apiece when he took the second set 7-5. Zverev broke serve twice in the third set, and also opened up with a break in the first game of the fourth set, a lead he would not relinquish. The match lasted just three hours and thirty three minutes on the Rod Laver Arena.
Following is the line up in the bottom half of the men’s section on Day 8 with my pick mentioned first:-
Rafael Nadal (6) v. Gael Monfils (9)
Milos Raonic (3) v. Roberto Bautista Agut (13)
David Goffin (11) v. Dominic Thiem (8)
Grigor Dmitrov (15) v. Denis Istomin(-)
There was no shortage of drama in the ladies section of the draw as the defending champion Angelique Kerber of Germany was beaten by the American Coco Vandeweghe 2-6, 3-6 in the final match of the day. Kerber who dropped a set each in her first two rounds was outclassed by the 35th ranked American born in New York city, residing in Rancho Santa Fe, California.
Another American, the elder of the Williams siblings, beat another German Mona Barthel 6-3, 7-5. The remaining two slots have been filled up by the seventh seeded Spaniard Garbine Muguruza who beat the Roumanian Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-3. In an all Russian encounter the 24th seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova upset the eighth seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-3 in just 68 minutes.
The 31 year old Kuznetsova who won the 2004 U.S. Open and then the 2009 French Open at Roland Garros was outplayed by her 25 year old opponent on the Rod Laver Arena. Vandeweghe will play Muguruza, while Venus Williams takes on Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the quarter finals.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: firstname.lastname@example.org]