Australian Open Day Seven Marquee Matches
Day Six Headlines:
— Women’s third seed Garbiñe Muguruza was defeated in straight sets by the unseeded Czech player Barbora Strycova.
— Men’s third and fourth seeds Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka advanced in four and three sets, respectively.
— Americans John Isner and Madison Keys advanced to the fourth round.
Roger Federer (3) vs David Goffin (15)
Although he is over 30, Federer showed last season that he can still perform at the highest level, especially in Grand Slams. Federer was pushed in his third round match against the talented Grigor Dimitrov, a match that will likely be more strenuous than this encounter with Goffin. A solid player, Goffin lacks a weapon to challenge a player of Federer’s caliber.
Prediction: Federer in straight sets
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (9) vs Kei Nishikori (7)
Perhaps the matchup of the fourth round, this blockbuster is rare for a first-week match in featuring two top-10 players. The craftier of the two, Nishikori leads the head-to-head 4-2. However, the powerful Tsonga won the most recent encounter in five sets at the 2015 French Open. The slow, high-bouncing courts in Australia are better suited to Tsonga’s height, and, like the French Open, should provide Tsonga a slight advantage.
Prediction: Tsonga in five close sets
Belinda Bencic (12) vs Maria Sharapova (5)
A talented 18-year old, Bencic has drawn comparisons to Martina Hingis, both for her all-court game and for her Swiss nationality. Bencic met Sharapova at the Bollettieri Tennis Academy as a young girl. Sharapova was already winning Grand Slams.
Sharapova still holds the edge, coming to Australia with a fifth seed and five Grand Slam titles to her name. Sharapova also has the bigger game — her serve and forehand could trouble Bencic, who struggled early on in her last match against the big-hitting Kateryna Bondarenko. Bencic has a bright future ahead of her, but she has reached the end of the line in Australia, for now.
Prediction: Sharapova in three
Serena Williams (1) vs Margarita Gasparyan
Serena’s matches thus far have been notable for how straightforward she has progressed. Her closest match, a 6-4, 7-5 win over Camila Giorgi in the first round, still only required two sets. Her fourth round against 58th-ranked Gasparyan will likely be another routine affair. Serena will have to wait until the quarterfinals for a challenge—with a win she will play either Bencic or Sharapova.
Prediction: Williams in two
Sam Groth/Lleyton Hewitt vs Vasek Pospisil/Jack Sock (9)
He is retired as a singles player, but Lleyton Hewitt is still alive in the doubles draw with his usual Davis Cup partner, Sam Groth. Usually singles players, Hewitt and Groth scored an upset over eighth seeds John Peers and Henri Kontinen in the second round. They will take on the Canadian-American pairing and 2014 Wimbledon champions Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock, also accomplished singles players.
Look for this match to have big serving from Sock and Groth and deft net play from Hewitt and Pospisil. The Aussie crowd was raucous in cheering on their countrymen in the last round, and look for that, along with Hewitt’s passion, to give the edge in this match.
Prediction: Groth/Hewitt in three sets