Aussie Quarterfinals

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Australian Open has never looked so open and deep. There are players on a comeback, unknown young players, and injured players on a roll. All the quarterfinalists have already played magnificent games. With cream of the crop present, it looks like the upcoming matches should all be good ones, with one or two exceptions, of course.

Justine Henin-Hardenne vs. Lindsay Davenport
Lindsay Davenport is really a great and consistent player but Justine is that much hungrier. In fine physical shape, with no injuries, Justine would have to be the favourite in this set-up. Lindsay has a slight sprain on her ankle that could really hamper her mobility, and, this would be a major weakness against Justine, who plays angles well and is probably the woman who has the best court coverage when she's not injured. Justine, two sets.

Maria Sharapova vs. Nadia Petrova
There's not much to say when Sharapova has her game dialled in, which has been the case all through the tournament. Sharapova is dominant, physical and ruthless. Sharapova, in an easy two set win.

Patty Schnyder vs. Amelie Mauresmo
Mauresmo is playing killer tennis right now, destroying all her previous opponents by having a ridiculously low error percentage. Schnyder is always a contender but, if she doesn't get to Mauresmo early, she won't have a chance. Mauresmo's biggest problem is herself. Mentally, if she stays in the game, it'll be a short fight. But, she'll need to win a tough match to really gain self-confidence for the final. Mauresmo, three sets.

Martina Hingis vs. Kim Clijsters
You know I love Martina Hingis but this one is very difficult to call. Perhaps the most difficult. We haven't seen Hingis play any of the big power games yet so we don't know exactly what she can do to take some of Kim's weapons away. Hingis played Henin-Hardenne earlier this month, and was consequently demolished. But, that's Justine for you. Still, difficult to know. Could be a Kim steamroller, or a Hingis triumph? Kim's apparently injured, though we've seen no sign of weakness in her game so far. I'll root for Hingis, who's probably the underdog in this match, because I think she's a really tricky and creative player, and because she really likes to win... like really! Hingis in a very very hard fought three set match.


On the Men's side, things are looking quite simple.

Roger Federer vs. Nikolai Davydenko
Federer in three easy sets. After being tested by Haas, really a player in his calibre, Davydenko should be a walk in the park. And yes, I was very sad to see Haas lose after knocking some chinks in the Federer game but, they'll be other matches.

Sebastian Grosjean vs. Nicolas Kiefer
Kiefer is dangerous right now. But Grosjean is tenacious. I haven't followed Kiefer enough to give this a proper guess, but my heart would be with Grosjean in what I imagine will be a four set match. Allez Marseille!

Fabrice Santoro vs. David Nalbandian
Unless Nalbandian auto-destructs into a puddle of poo, he should prevail easily over Santoro. I love Santoro, but, let's face it: Santoro is also playing doubles, he's 33, he's not normally at this stage of the Slams. Logically, he should be a little tired. Nalbandian is gaining momentum and I think he's a smart tactical player, which should disarm Santoro a little. Still... I will be cheering for Fabrice. hmmmmm... Nalbandian, in straight sets.

Marcos Baghdatis vs. Ivan Ljubicic
This is the match of the quarterfinals on the men's side. Both men are playing at the top of their game and they're both powerful and agressive. Baghdatis is fearless and has been playing consistent champion tennis all tournament. I've been reading and listening, through radio and internet, about his previous matches so far in the Aussie Open and apparently his level of play against Roddick is no fluke. However, Ljubicic has more experience and better depth. Brilliance vs. diligence. Who wins? Why, obviously brilliance! Baghdatis in four sets!