Australian Open Men’s Quarterfinal Picks

by John on January 24, 2011

And now there are eight. The men’s quarterfinals are set at the Australian Open. All but two of the top eight seeds made it through four rounds to play another day. In the top half of the draw, top-seeded Rafael Nadal meets No. 7 seed David Ferrer and No. 5 seed Andy Murray plays unseeded Alexandr Dolgopolov. In the bottom half, defending champion and No. 2 seed Roger Federer tangles with fellow Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka, the No. 19 seed, and No. 3 seed Novak Djokovic battles No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych. Nadal, who is seeking his fourth consecutive Slam, faces a stern test in fellow Spaniard Ferrer. Ferrer has posted an 8-0 record this year and won at Auckland last week. Rafa appears to be rounding into top form after losing to Nikolay Davydenko in the semifinals at Doha two weeks ago. Nadal contracted a fever at Doha and continued to be troubled by the illness’ lingering effects as recent as Saturday night in his match against Aussie Bernard Tomic. “I’m not sweating that much tonight,” Nadal said Monday night, after his straight-set win over Marin Cilic. “The two other days I was sweating like crazy and I felt very tired when I played the match. Today was the first day I felt perfect physically.” You can be sure Ferrer will test Nadal’s fitness, but I predict Nadal will prevail in four tough sets. Nadal has an 11-3 record against his countryman. Murray has played the best tennis of the eight quarterfinalists Down Under. The Scotsman hasn’t dropped a set and has lost only 22 games so far. Dolgopolov, ranked No. 46, played spectacularly in dispatching No. 4 seed Robin Soderling Monday afternoon. I see Murray breaking down the unorthodox Ukrainian’s game and winning in straight sets. Murray has won the only meeting between the two — a Davis Cup rubber in 2006. Federer seems slightly vulnerable. The Swiss Maestro is 9-0 this year, with a win at Doha. But Federer was extended to five sets by Gilles Simon in the 2nd round last week and dropped a set to Tommy Robredo in his fourth-round win on Sunday. Still, the former world No. 1 reached his 27th consecutive major quarterfinal, tieing Jimmy Connors for the all-time record. Wawrinka, who is also 9-0 and won at Chennai two weeks ago, was magnificent in dropping No. 8 seed Andy Roddick in straight sets Sunday night, blasting 24 aces and 67 winners. Roddick hardly knew what hit him. If Wawrinka, 1-6 against his fellow Swiss, can forget who is on the other side of the net and play with the same intensity and purpose he did against Roddick, he can take down Federer. I’m picking Stan in a five-set upset special. Djokovic against Berdych is a tossup, even though the Serb leads the head-to-head 4-1. Berdych’s power game is perfectly suited for the hardcourts at Melbourne Park. Nole caught a break, though, when the scheduler booked the match at night. Djokovic often wilts under the Australian summer sun. No such problem under the lights at Rod Laver Arena. Make it Djokovic in four.

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