Australian Open 2013: Breaking Down Top Underdogs' Chances to Advance
The Australian Open isn't winding down, in fact, it's just getting started. After Day 9's action, only four men's and women's singles quarterfinal matchups remain, and after Wednesday, only eight men and women will be left standing in Melbourne Park.
While Day 10's action will be highlighted by favorites like Victoria Azarenka, Serena Williams and Andy Murray, the underdogs set to face them have a shot of their own to make history by propelling themselves into the semis.
Here we'll break down the chances of the top underdogs to advance to the semifinals at the 2013 Australian Open.
Women's No. 29 seed, Sloane Stephens will go up against her mentor, Serena Williams, in the quarterfinals on Wednesday for the second time in 2013. And although Stephens has been gaining confidence over the past week or so in Australia, she will soon be up against it.
Williams took out Stephens in straight sets at the WTA Brisbane International earlier this month, and if the moment of playing Serena again, this time on such a grand stage doesn't blow Stephens away, then Williams' powerful serve certainly will. After all, Williams has won 87 percent of her first-serve points during her first four wins.
The women's No. 3 seed has been on fire Down Under, and has been for quite a bit. Williams has won two Grand Slams and an Olympic gold medal dating back to last summer. While her seed may suggest she's not the favorite to win in Melbourne, I can assure you that she is.
At 19, Stephens has a long way to go in the sport, and although her future looks bright, growing pains are a major part of the process. Serena wins this match nine out of 10 times.
Chances: 10 percent
Frenchman Jeremy Chardy has been playing some amazing tennis this January, dominating on first-serve points and hitting winners in bunches.
But after disposing of seeded players Juan Martin del Potro and Andreas Seppi, the real challenge will come on Day 10, when Chardy is forced to take on third-seeded Andy Murray in the men's quarterfinals. Murray is not only a favorite at this tournament, but he's the reigning U.S. Open champion.
The Scotsman is on a roll right now as well, having won all four of his early-round matches in straight sets. In addition to putting a high percentage of his first serves into the box, Murray is committing very few unforced errors, making him nearly impossible to beat.
I give Chardy a 1/20 chance of ousting Murray on Wednesday.
Chances: 5 percent
Which underdog has the best shot to pull off the upset?
It's important to note that Kuznetsova has been here before and won at other Grand Slam events. The Russian has flown under the radar for the most part in Melbourne because she's lacking a seed, but as a two-time Slam winner, she's the one underdog capable of upending her opponent in the quarters on Day 10.
The 27-year-old will take on defending women's singles champion Victoria Azarenka. And although Azarenka has looked unbeatable so far, she has been and will continue to be under immense pressure to repeat.
If Kuznetsova can jump out to an early lead on Azarenka and keep the pressure off herself by avoiding unforced errors (as she's done for the most part thus far), then it's not crazy to think the reigning tournament champion could go out at the quarterfinal stage.
Still, thinking it is one thing, doing it is another. Either way you slice it, Kuznetsova will be up against some tough odds on Day 10.
Chances: 25 percent
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter throughout the 2013 Australian Open for more reaction and analysis on the year's first Grand Slam.
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