As the first day of the second week in Year’s first Grand Slam came to an end, eight men and eight women have remained in the tournament to play in the quarterfinals beginning Tuesday. There were some predictable performances and some stunning results on Monday. Men’s top seed Novak Djokovic came with another stellar show against Luxemburg’s Gilles Muller in straight sets; Serena Williams dropped a set but finally beat Spain’s Garbine Muguruza; Stan Wawrinka also ensured his place in the quarterfinal despite taking four sets to beat another Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Milos Raonic had to toil for the first time in the tournament before coming through in five sets against another player from Spain Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. But the biggest upset of the day was caused by Serena sibling Venus Williams, who sent sixth seed Agnieszka Radwanska packing. There were two other brilliant performances during the day. In the first, Japan’s Kei Nishikori played flawless tennis to oust the talented 9th seed David Ferrer and in another great performance, Dominika Cibulkova ended the comeback bid by Belarusian Victoria Azarenka. Other than Serena and Venus, the QF entries feature one more American; Madison Keys, who beat her compatriot and another Madison; called Brengle. Another notable casualty on Monday was the top-seeded men’s doubles pair of Bob and Mike Bryan, who lost in their third round match against UK’s Dominic Inglot and Romania’s Florin Mergea.
Novak Djokovic looks unstoppable. The four-time Australian Open champion was relentless in his match against Gilles Muller of Luxembourg. Djokovic knew the guy’s temperament and his game and therefore the top seed used a professional approach, allowing Muller a leeway only up to certain limits. Djokovic broke him at critical times, when he sensed that Muller could lose focus; and that happened once in each of the three sets. As a matter of fact, the Serb didn’t play his best tennis but his focus was business-like. He made use of the opportunities, when they presented themselves. In the place for the semifinal, Djokovic will have to get the better of the mercurial Milos Raonic, whose passage in the tournament so far; has been nothing less than spectacular. However, on Monday, Raonic had to battle hard for long and it required no less than five sets before he could overcome the tenacious 12th seed from Spain, Feliciano Lopez. But the Canadian has the quality of keeping his stamina for playing long games and still preserving his poise as he had shown at the US open four months ago. He can tire his opponents by playing on and on without getting fatigued. The 8th seed Raonic pounded 30 aces and 81 winners and his first serve won him 79% of his points. In the three hours that the match lasted, Raonic was broken only once. The Canadian could have won in the fourth set, when he held a match point but the tenacity of his opponent took the match to the fifth set. In the decider, Raonic broke the Spaniard in the eighth game and then produced three stinging aces in the ninth game to win the match 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-7, 6-3.
Defending champion Stanislas Wawrinka also entered the quarterfinal but not before he was severely tested by another Spaniard. It took Wawrinka four draining sets to stymy the challenge from Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. After winning the first set tie-break and second set, Wawrinka lost the third to a rejuvenated and fighting Lopez and as the match entered the fourth set, the battle reached a climax. In the fourth set tie-break, Wawrinka stood at losing the set at 6-2 with four points against him. But the Swiss saved them all. But Lopez forced another set point. However, Wawrinka held on to win the set and the match 7-6, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 in just over three hours. For the semifinal berth, Wawrinka will face Kei Nishikori, who brought off a spectacular performance to down 9th seed David Ferrer in straight sets. Ferrer looked clueless against the sheer power of the Japanese, who systematically broke him down with a clinical performance and ran away with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 victory.
In women’s singles matches, three American women reached the quarterfinals on Monday. Serena Williams was once again given a fright and this time, it was Spain’s Garbine Muguruza. The American lost the opening set but bounced back superbly to take the next two emphatically to finish the match, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2. Serena’s quarterfinal opponent will be the dynamic Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova, who stopped two-time champion Victoria Azarenka in Round 4 with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 win. Serena’s elder sibling Venus rolled back the years with a great performance against title aspirant Agnieszka Radwanska. Playing like someone from her illustrious past, Venus defeated Aga 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 to set up the semifinal clash with Madison Keys, the third American, who entered the last eight. Keys was business-like in dismantling her compatriot Madison Brengle 6-2, 6-4 in her fourth round match.
America’s famous Bryan brothers were the 8th day casualty at the Australian Open in losing their third round match 6-7, 3-6 against UK’s Dominic Inglot and Romania’s Florin Mergea. The brothers played a tough first set that was decided on the tie-break. But once they lost it, Inglot/Mergea didn’t allow them much foot hold in a 68 minute encounter.
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