Could Kei Nishikori make shocking wins back-to-back?
Quarterfinal matches action closes today at the 2012 edition of the Australian Open.
Four matches—two on the men's draw and two on the women's draw—are scheduled to be played at Rod Laver Arena starting at 11 a.m. local time.
Today, the seeded players look almost like a lock to advance to the semifinals. But if we have learned something about tennis tournaments, especially the Grand Slams, it's that a surprise loss can come at the least expected moment...
Just ask Serena Williams. Oh, and by the way, her conqueror—Russian Ekaterina Makarova—is on-action today.
The matches are highlighted by the top player in the world on the men's side, Novak Djokovic. He will try to avoid suffering the same fate that his counterpart on the women's side, Caroline Wozniacki, suffered yesterday.
Djokovic will be facing an ever-dangerous opponent in the fifth seed, Spain's David Ferrer.
The second seed on the women's draw, Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova, will face an unseeded player in Italy's Sara Errani.
And fourth seed Maria Sharapova is the one facing unseeded Makarova, basically assuring a Russian on the women's semifinal.
In all matches, maybe with the exception of Djokovic-Ferrer, if the winner is not the seeded player, you can count it as a shocker you would never see coming.
Who has the best shot a pulling a shocking win today?
Why not Ferrer? For starters, Djokovic is 7-5 lifetime against Ferrer, and losing comes easily, as recent as the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
Granted Nole was not at his best then, and smoked Ferrer at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship this year. But Ferrer is no easy feat, he is the fifth seed.
Nole will be wise not to be overconfident against Ferrer, whose great return game, fitness level and baseline power game cannot be overlooked.
But one shocker will be to see Murray lose to Nishikori, who lost easily to Murray in the semifinals in Shanghai, 6-3, 6-0.
While Murray is undefeated this year and sporting a new coach in tennis great Ivan Lendl, Nishikori is riding high in confidence after getting pass by fierce Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
And Nishikori has beaten a top player before, so there is precedent for him. He eliminated Djokovic in the Basel semifinals last year.
Besides being a great match to watch, it could be one unexpected shocking win for Nishikori.
Kvitova has been playing excellent tennis at this tournament so far. And if one of the matches today should not be expected as a loss from a seeded player, would be Kvitova's.
She is playing Errani, the 48th-ranked player in the world, for the first time.
Errani has not beaten a top-seeded player, yet. But she has taken out some that have been surprising in the tournament.
And not only has Errani showed them the door, she has done it blasting them out of the court. Just the way a top seed would do.
Errani blasted Jie Zheng 6-2, 6-1 in the fourth round. Zheng eliminated ninth-seed Marion Bartoli 6-3, 6-3.
Before that, she lost a set in a tie-break to Sorana Cirstea, but then handed her a bagel in the second and a 6-2 in the third. Cirstea eliminated sixth-seed and U.S. Open champ, Samatha Stosur, 7-6, 6-3 in the first round.
Still, a win by Errani will definitely be the most shocking of all the matches today.
And the other quarterfinal match in the women's draw will be the Russian showdown between the OVAs, Sharapova and Makarova.
Sharapova has beaten Makarova twice—both times on clay last year. Thus, this will be their first hard-court meeting.
Makarova comes from overwhelming Serena Williams. Injured or not, Williams was no match for the 56th-ranked player in the world.
In the previous rounds, Makarova took care of seventh seed and fellow Russian Vera Zvonareva in the third, and Brisbane International winner Kaia Kanepi in the second.
She is on a roll, but so has been Sharapova, who had lost only five games in the first three matches before dropping the first set to Sabine Lisicki in the fourth round.
Sharapova has been playing lights-out, reminiscent of her best playing days as a former World No. 1.
But these are Makarova's best days now, and today could be her best yet.
Make sure you watch the games. You could be in line to be shocked by any of the underdogs today.