Australian Open 2012: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal Each Fight for Semifinal Place

Devil in a New DressSenior Writer IJanuary 23, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 26:  Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates a point during the men's singles round robin match against Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina during the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena on November 26, 2009 in London, England  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

The 2012 Australian Open has so far gone according to plan. Bagels, straight sets victories and little fuss have been the order of the day.

The "Big Four", consisting of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, have all made it to the quarterfinal stage. Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro—the much touted dark horse of the tournament—is ruffling feathers as crunch time arrives.

In the first two of the four Men's Quarterfinal matches, World No. 3 Roger Federer takes on former top four player Juan Martin Del Potro and 10-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal takes on Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych.

Here's a preview of the two matches:

Roger Federer vs. Juan Martin Del Potro

In a tie that promises to be a contender for match of the tournament, 16-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer easily comes into the contest as the favorite.

The Swiss maestro hasn't lost an ATP Tour match since he was surprisingly defeated by Novak Djokovic at the semifinal stage of last year's US Open, and he won the World Tour Finals event in London in November.

Del Potro, on the other hand, is still in the process of returning to his best.

His performances in this tournament have threatened the possibility of a "Big Five" emerging; however, there is room to doubt his consistency.

Del Potro has advantages.  He's hard-hitting and take no prisoners. He also has confidence that he can win.

The key to the contest will be composure.

Both men are great strikers–chasing scorched balls in the middle of an Australian summer day would be foolish strategy. As such, the winner is likely to be the player controlling most of the rallies.

Winner: Federer. But only if he wins the first set. Without early momentum, Del Potro will be tough.

Rafael Nadal vs. Tomas Berdych

Nadal leads the head to head between these players 10-3. Berdych's last win came in 2006.

Berdych can trouble Nadal, and it wouldn't surprise me if he took a set, but it's hard to imagine Nadal losing.

A worrying stat for Nadal fans is that the Spaniard's winner numbers have dropped since the first round as the opposition has improved.

Is that a sign of tightness, or a marker of what's to come?

Nadal's winner numbers are usually high (30-40) when he is playing well and it will be important to watch out for this.

Winner: Nadal. The World No. 2's serve power and speed should be sufficient enough to keep Berdych at bay.