Australian Open Day 7 Headlines
-Heavy favorite Novak Djokovic survived a dreadful performance and a game effort from Gilles Simon, prevailing in a five setter that went well over four hours. Simon used his counterpunching style to perfection, giving Djokovic little to no pace and throwing the World No. 1 off his game to the tune of a preposterous 100 errors. Djokovic’s serve bailed him out time and time again, and he didn’t let the frustration take out of things mentally. He’ll surely be much sharper going forward.
-Roger Federer and Serena Williams advanced easily, while Aga Radwanska and Tomas Berdych fended off upset threats that pushed them to the brink.
-In an anticipated first meeting, Maria Sharapova slugged her way to a win over teenager Belinda Bencic. Sharapova was aggressive from the first ball and Bencic looked very sluggish with subpar lateral movement. Her maturity and intelligence kept her hanging around, along with Sharapova’s errors on big points, but eventually Sharapova was too much for Bencic to handle, setting up another Serena vs Sharapova meeting.
-Kei Nishikori impressively bounced back from an arm injury and an average showing against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez to thump Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straights. In avenging a disappointing loss to the Frenchman at Roland Garros, Nishikori booked his ticket to a quarterfinal clash with Djokovic.
Day 8 Men’s Predictions
Andy Murray (2) vs Bernie Tomic (18)
Good luck guessing Tomic’s intensity in a particular match, but in press, he’s seemed quite aware of his reputation and has discussed wanting to get to a new level in his career. Either way, his tricky game lacks the firepower to push Murray off the court. Murray in 4.
Stan Wawrinka (4) vs Milos Raonic (13)
The blockbuster of the day. Part of the lackluster group of players younger than 28 years old, Raonic appears poised to separate himself from his peers. His serve will always help him scratch out matches here and there, and now he’s trying to round out his game after injuries essentially wiped out his 2015 season. Him winning this match wouldn’t be a total surprise, but Wawrinka’s history in Australia lends him benefit of the doubt, as his last three appearances have resulted in a title and two losses to Djokovic. The shot to watch might be Wawrinka’s angled crosscourt backhand as he tries to drag Raonic off the court and to his backhand corner. Wawrinka in 4.
David Ferrer (8) vs John Isner (10)
The classic matchup between server and baseliner, Isner is a popular semi-upset pick, but Ferrer has held the edge in their history. Isner traditionally flames out in majors and with a tough opponent, this is more of a “believe it when I see it” pick: Ferrer in 4.
Gael Monfils (23) vs Andrey Kuznetsov
The undercard will feature some dazzling shotmaking. A bit of a late bloomer, Kuznetsov has had a great start to 2016. Predicting Monfils matches is like blindly throwing darts, but Monfils in 5.
Day 8 Women’s Predictions
Angie Kerber (7) vs Annika Beck
Tennis fans should be rooting for Kerber in this one, as Kerber-Azarenka matches are insanely good. Kerber in 2.
Vika Azarenka (14) vs Barbora Strycova
Not sure there’s any opponent at the moment besides Serena Williams who would warrant anything other Azarenka in 2.
Madison Keys (15) vs Zhang Shuai
Zhang Shuai’s storybook run continues, and she’s got a shot here if the inconsistencies of Keys continue. Keys has managed expectations and pressure well to navigate some dangerous situations thus far, and if she can back up her 2015 semifinal result with at least a quarterfinal, that’s a productive result. As always, shot selection is one of the major areas of focus for the young American. Keys in 3.
Ekaterina Makarova (21) vs Johanna Konta
Both are among the hottest players in the tournament and could easily make the semis, but Makaroa gets the edge here considering her impressive consistency in Australia. It’s nice to see her healthy again after injuries last year. Makarova in 2.