The serious business of the quarter-finals of the men’s singles in the 2014 Australian Open gets underway on Tuesday, with two clashes well worth staying/getting up for on Day Nine.
Stanislas Wawrinka 6.50 v Novak Djokovic 1.11
Defending champion Djokovic takes to the court on Rod Laver Arena once more at 06.05 UK time on Tuesday, and surely he’ll be met with sterner resistance than his last outing in Melbourne when Fabio Fognini messed around for a while before throwing in the towel.
Stan Wawrinka means business these days, and will step onto court with bittersweet memories of 12 months ago when he pushed Nole to the limit in a 12-10 final set heartbreaker. He’ll be determined to go just that little bit further and finish the job this time.
It’s a tall order for the Swiss though, who brings a 2-17 career record into this clash, whilst other than that match here last year and a similarly tight US Open semi-final he has had his game nullified by the Serb regularly.
Two meetings since that New York semi have been easy wins for Djokovic, although I would expect better from Wawrinka in a match of this magnitude.
Stan comes here the fresher of the two, with just eight-and-a-half sets of tennis under his belt in Melbourne so far, but Novak has played only 12 and many of those have been quick.
At least the Swiss is in the best of form and fitness so as to give this a real go, and it would be a major disappointment to all bar the Djokovic camp if Wawrinka folds tamely.
Novak will know the kind of threat he faces from Wawrinka’s powerful ground strokes off both wings and his effective serve, and it may well be Stan’s own return of serve that is key here.
He does have a tendency to just push it back into play and he can’t let Novak have the initiative too often by doing that.
Djokovic, for his part, has looked to come to the net a bit more so far this tournament, which is no doubt Boris Becker’s influence and whilst that’s a good tactic against Rafa Nadal’s defensive slice it will be interesting to see how and when he deploys it in this one.
Clearly there’s little value in the 1.11 about a Djokovic win, but it will be a great showing from the Serb if he can see the Swiss off in fewer than 34.5 games.
The overs at 1.65 looks a very good bet here.
Tomas Berdych 1.70 v David Ferrer 2.15
Before all of that there’s what looks to be a competitive encounter between the impressive Berdych and the ultra-consistent Ferrer at around 03.35 UK time.
The Czech is yet to be broken so far in this tournament, but he’ll do well to keep that record going against one of the better returners in the game.
Berdych, sporting a hideous kit creation, cruised against Kevin Anderson in his last match and has done so all tournament really, whilst Ferrer has been less smooth in his progress, landing this column a nice winner by dropping a set to Flo Mayer in a 3-1 win last round.
For me, this clash is all on the racquet of the Berdman, and if he comes out aggressively and takes the game to Ferrer these courts and conditions should aid him to a win that could be more comfortable than a price of 1.70 suggests.
If Tomas really turns it on we could be looking at a 3-0 win here at 4.0, but I’m not sure I trust the Berdych brain not to have a wobble at some stage, and Ferrer will snatch any opportunity he can.
I think the Czech will have a bit to spare in this one if he plays the right match though, and the minus 1.5 games on the handicap looks the call.
Back over 34.5 games in Djokovic/Wawrinka at 1.65
Back Berdych –1.5 games to beat Ferrer at 1.82