Australian Open 9 Round
Australian Open Day 9 Round-up: Djokovic and Wawrinka ready for a super clash, whilst Sharapova will meet Serena in the Women’s final.
Novak Djokovic will be looking forward to meeting his favourite Australian Open rivalry in defending champion Stan Wawrinka after both men enjoyed comfortable quarterfinal wins in Melbourne on Wednesday. Wawrinka continued his impressive title defence with a straight-sets win over Japan’s Kei Nishikori, before Djokovic outclassed the big-serving Milos Raonic on Rod Laver Arena. Djokovic beat Wawrinka 12-10 in the fifth set in a fourth-round clash before claiming his third straight title in 2013, but Wawrinka ended the world number one’s 25-match unbeaten run in Melbourne in the quarterfinals last year, winning 9-7 in the fifth.
So far this tournament, Djokovic has not dropped a set on the way to the semi-finals for the first time since 2008, the year he won his first title, and has only lost his serve once.
That was a reference to Djokovic’s coach, who nevertheless came in for some light-hearted criticism for leaving the court to answer a call of nature in the first game of the third set. Wawrinka defeated fifth seed Nishikori in two hours and four minutes and has dropped just one set in making the last four.
Nishikori had won their previous encounter, also in the quarterfinals of a grand slam, in five sets on his way to the final of the US Open at Flushing Meadows last year, but fourth seed Wawrinka dominated Wednesday’s match from the outset.
Both Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams eliminated their lesser-known opponents in straight sets on Thursday morning. Despite their joint status as the headline acts of the women’s tour, Sharapova and Williams have never established a compelling narrative in their head-to-head meetings as the Serena has a 2-16 head to head. Sharapova certainly looked in fine fettle on Thursday morning as she swept past fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova with barely a hitch. The 6-3, 6-2 score line perhaps underestimates the dominance of the world No. 2, who struggled to hold her first service game, but then found her self-belief and her rhythm in an overpowering display. There was more tension in Williams’s semi-final against a woman 14 years her junior, the brilliant 19-year-old Madison Keys. The first set of this one was extremely tight, as Keys belted down ace after ace to stay in contention until a tiebreak. Remarkably, it was the first tiebreak that Williams had been forced to play at the Australian Open since 2010, but she held her nerve superbly, snatching the vital mini-break with a punishing backhand return of serve and then driving on to a 7-6, 6-2 victory like the juggernaut she is. Keys, however, can take enormous credit. Not only for going so deep in this tournament but for fending off eight match points and delaying Williams’s victory for over a quarter of an hour before she finally succumbed.
The best tennis predictions would see Both Nole and Maria as successful in these two matches but one never knows…