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  • Chris sobey



The Australian Open is now down to the second week and by Tuesday morning the men’s and women’s quarter-final match ups will be known. First up we have Sunday and Monday’s fourth round encounters to determine and top-seed and favourite Andy Murray was due to play Mischa Zverev in the early hours of this morning. Murray will face either 17th seed Federer or fifth seed Nishikori in the quarter-finals and their match is the featured night match today. It is sure to be a pulsating and fascinating encounter, which I believe Nishikori will win, as he is playing the best tennis of his career at present and his superior fitness and stamina should tell if the match go the distance.

Britain’s Dan Evans is having the best month of his tennis career and by the time you read this article he should still be contesting his fourth round match against 12th seed Tsonga. While he’s got his work cut out to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final, it’s not impossible as he’s already knocked out two higher ranked opponents, in seventh seed Cilic and 27th seed Tomic. Fourth seed Stan Wawrinka (advised 16/1) completes the first set of men’s fourth round matches and he should progress against the unseeded Seppi as he leads the head-to-head 10-5.

The fourth round matches from the bottom half of the draw get underway tomorrow morning and ninth seed Nadal has grabbed a lot of the headlines this weekend after his epic five set win against NextGen teenage star Alexander Zverev yesterday. Nadal faces sixth seed Monfils today, who has also reached this stage in impressive fashion, and we could be in for another epic Melbourne Park encounter, that is if nerves and the occasion don’t get the better of Monfils like they did at last year’s US Open semi-finals when he fell apart against Djokovic.

I expect Nadal will come out on top-again tomorrow, but it won’t be straight forward and I can see it being close and going to four or five set. Third seed Milos Raonic has reached the fourth round in impressive fashion and he should reach his second quarter-final against 13th seed Bautista Agut tomorrow morning, as he’s never lost against the Spanish number two. Dominic Thiem seeded eight faces 11th seed Goffin and both players are looking in good form and shape, which should ensure a highly entertaining encounter.

Goffin leads the head-to-head 5-2 and won their third round encounter here last year in four sets, but Thiem has won three of their last four encounters. The final fourth round match from the bottom half of the draw will be between this year’s big surprise package Istomin and 15th seed Dimitrov (advised 66/1). Istomin has already knocked out second seed and defending champion Djokovic in five sets and 30th seed Carreno-Busta in five sets yesterday, but it’s highly unlikely he will make it three back-to-back wins against Dimitrov tomorrow as the young Bulgarian is looking in great form at present.

The women’s top-half of the draw fourth round matches were also played this morning and top-seed and defending champion Kerber (advised 9/2) should have progressed to the quarter-finals against Vandewhege, as she leads the head-to-head 2-0, which were both on hard courts. Seventh seed Muguruza faced a resurgent Cirstea for the first time this morning and with both players having not dropped a set so far, and looking in decent form, it should have been a competitive encounter that i expect Muguruza will have just edged.

The two other fourth round matches from the top half of the draw this morning were between 13th seed Venus Williams and Barthel and eighth seed Kuznetsova and 24th seed Pavlyuchenkova. I expect Williams will have made the quarter-finals by the time you read this article, but I would not be surprised if Pavlyuchenkova upset Kuznetova as she beat her at Sydney in straight sets recently and knocked out the 11th seed Svitolina, while Kuznetsova just craped past veteran Jankovic 6-4 5-7 9-7 last time out.

The fourth round matches from the bottom half of the draw tomorrow morning feature second seed and six time champion Serena Williams against 16th seed Strycova and fifth seed Pliskova (advised 9/1) against home darling Gavrilova. I expect Williams and Pliskova to progress to the quarter-finals as both lead their respective head-to-heads 2-0. Britian’s Jo Konta has looked in imperious form so far and should beat 30th seed Makarova as she leads the head-to-head 3-0, which includes the epic 4-6 6-4 8-6 fourth round win here last year, while there is guaranteed to be at least one unseeded player in the quarter-finals, as young American Brady will face veteran Lucic-Baroni tomorrow morning for the first time.

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