2020 Australian Open: Review Of The Pre-Quarter Finals

Four former champions still remain in fray after the 2014 champion Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland produced the biggest upset of the tournament coming from 1-2 down in sets to end the hopes of the Russian fourth seed Daniil Medvedev on the Melbourne Arena on Monday in a thrilling five set match lasting three hour and twenty nine minutes. He joins the defending champion Novak Djokovic, the top seed Rafael Nadal and fellow countryman Roger Federer in the last eight.

On Monday afternoon, the sixteenth seeded Wawrinka got off to a rousing start as he ran away with the first set 6-2. Medvedev who had been tipped to become the first player born in the 1990s to win a grand slam title regrouped and took the next two sets comfortably. There were no breaks of serve in the fourth set but Wawrinka took charge of the tie-break which he won 7-2.

That seemed to have deflated the Russian as he lost serve to start the fifth set and then dropped serve one more time as Wawrinka booked his place with a 6-2,2-6,4-6,7-6(2),6-2 win. He goes on to play the German Alexander Zverev who had a surprisingly easy 6-4,6-4,6-4 win over the red hot Russian Andrey Rublev, winner of eleven matches already this year. One break of serve in each set was all that Zverev needed as the seventh seeded German continued his quest with a fourth consecutive straight sets win.

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In what was the most eagerly anticipated match of the tournament, the Spaniard Rafael Nadal stayed on course in his quest to become the first man in Open Era to win all four majors atleast twice as he beat the last remaining Aussie hope Nick Kyrgios 6-3,3-6,7-6(6),7-6(4) in a repeat of their Wimbledon match up six months ago. One break of serve each in the first two sets was all that either player needed to win the set which they split.

In the third set Kyrgios wasted a break point chance in the third set and on it went into tie-break. Nadal never fell behind and despite wasting a set point 6-5, he regrouped to take the next two points for a 2-1 lead in sets. He also got an early break in the fourth set but while serving for the match at 5-4 his first service deserted him and aided by a double fault Kyrgios broke back. The Aussie then saved two break point chances and once again in the inevitable tie-break Kyrgios netted an uncalled for drop shot to go 3-5 down.

Nadal made him pay and won the match when Kyrgios netted a tame forehand. The 2009 champion now faces the fifth seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem who had a surprisingly one sided 6-2,6-4,6-4 win over the flamboyant tenth seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils on Rod Laver Arena in the afternoon session.

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On Australia Day on Sunday, the former world number three Milos Raonic of Canada served 35 aces as he defeated the 2018 finalist Marin Cilic of Croatia 6-4,6-3,7-5. He now has the gigantic task of facing the seven time champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia who continued his title defense with a 6-3,6-4,6-4 win over the fourteenth seeded Argentine Diego Schwartzman. Djokovic has won all nine matches against Raonic who is seeded 32 at the Open.

Roger Federer had a relatively easy passage than expected two days after his sensational match against the Australian John Millman as he came from the loss of the first set to the unseeded Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 4-6,6-1,6-2,6-2. One break of serve in the seventh game of the first set was all Fucsovics needed but he then had no answers to the wizardry of the great Swiss as he dropped serve twice each in the next three sets and then fell behind 0-4 in the fourth set. He got a break back but Federer broke the Hungarian a third time in the set before wrapping up the match in two hours and thirteen minutes.

His opponent in the last eight is the unheralded American Tennys Sandgren, who matched his exploits in 2018 when he reached the last eight with a 7-6(5),7-5,6-7(2),6-4 upset of the twelveth seeded Italian Fabio Fognini. Sandgren had 21 aces and broke serve five times in the match.
[1/27, 8:35 AM] Rasesh Mehta: The following is the quarter-final line up with my pick mentioned first :-

Rafael Nadal (1) v. Dominic Thiem (5); Nadal leads 9-5
Alexander Zverev (7) v. Stanislas Wawrinka (16); Zverev leads 2-0
Roger Federer (3) v. Tennys Sandgren (-); First meeting
Novak Djokovic (3) v. Milos Raonic (32); Djokovic leads 9-0.

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In the women’s section of the draw the pre tournament favourites Ashley Barty of Australia and the Romanian Simona Halep stay on course for a showdown on Saturday for the title clash after both advanced in contrasting styles to the last eight stage. The Wimbledon champion Barty had a hard fought 6-3,1-6,6-4 win over the American Alison Riske, while Halep defeated the Belgian Elise Mertens 6-4,6-4.

The former Wimbledon champions Garbine Muguruza and Petra Kvitova are also through to the last eight. However the former Australian Open and Wimbledon champion Angelica Kerber was beaten 7-6(5),6-7(4),2-6 by the Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Other players to advance are the American Sofia Kenin, the Estonian Anett Kontaveit and the Tunisian Ons Jabuer who defeated the conqueror of Serena Williams, Qiang Wang of China. She now faces Kenin, while the local hope Ashleigh Barty takes on Petra Kvitova on Tuesday. Simona Halep faces Anett Kontaveit, while Muguruza faces Pavlyuchenkova on Wednesday in the last eight.

– 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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