The 2013 Australian Open moves into the Round of 16 Sunday in Melbourne.
Half the men’s and women’s fields left will play on Sunday, while the other half will have the big-show courts to themselves on Monday.
One of the more unusual things about this year's tournament is that most of the big names in both draws are still playing as the second week of the tournament gets underway. That in itself would have made a wonderful bold prediction.
Usually, one of the top four seeds in each draw will have a bad match and crash out by the time we reach the fourth round. This time, 13 of the top 16 seeded players on the men’s side are still in the tournament, and nine of the top 16 are still alive on the women’s.
Juan Martin del Potro, the No. 6 seed, is the highest-ranked player to be sent home on the men’s side, while Sara Errani, the No. 7 seed, is the highest on the women’s.
If in fact the higher seeds prevail over the next couple days, the star-studded power on display in the quarterfinals will be tremendous.
Having said all that, here are a few bold predictions for Sunday’s play.
For a tournament that has gone largely the way Tennis Australia wanted it to go—with the early exit of Samantha Stosur in the second round being the exception—one would think that at some point we will see some of the bigger names fall.
That probably will not happen tonight, however.
There are some players, particularly on the men’s side, that might get pushed a bit, as most of the higher seeds left in the tournament on both sides have yet to go the distance in a match.
Maria Sharapova, the No. 2 seed, does not even play a seeded player today. She faces Kristen Flipkens, the No. 43 player in the world, of Belgium in the last match of the day session at Rod Laver Arena.
Being fresh going into the second week of a Grand Slam is crucial. That is an advantage that a lot of the players currently have.
The No. 5 seed Berdych goes out in the last match of the day at Margaret Court Arena against the red-hot South African Kevin Anderson.
Anderson, playing both singles and doubles, has already knocked out the No. 22 seed, Fernando Verdasco, in five sets in the third round and knocked out the No. 2 men’s doubles team, Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek, with his partner, Jonathan Ehrlich, in the first round.
For Anderson, this already has been an amazing Australian Open. He can turn this into a fairytale if he can upset Berdych tonight.
Berdych has yet to drop a set in his first three matches and should be the fresher of the players coming in. He also will have the advantage of this being an early-evening match, scheduled to be played after 5 p.m. Sunday, as opposed to playing in the heat of the day.
This battle between the No. 8 seed Tipsarevic and the No. 10 seed Almagro comes third on the card at Hisense Arena.
Tipsarevic has already been pushed to five sets twice, even coming back from a two-set-to-one deficit against Julien Benneteau in the third round.
Almagro has not dropped a set since going the distance against American Steve Johnson in the first round. He should come into this the fresher player.
Almagro, who is an ace machine, will have to pump out over 20 today in order to have a good chance against Tipsarevic. In that five set win against Johnson, he served 34.
Tipsarevic will have to serve better than the 53 percent of first serves that he produced in his win over Benneteau.