2013 Australian Open: Ranking the Chances of the Men Left in the Draw
The Australian Open heads into the quarterfinal round with very few surprises in the Men's Singles draw.
The top four seeds have all made it through and, save for Djokovic's five-set marathon in the round of 16, have done so with relative ease.
With the fifth-seeded Berdych, the seventh-seeded Tsonga and the tenth-seeded Almagro also remaining, in the field there promises to be some exciting matchups going forward.
Here's a look at how the players left in the draw stack up.
8. Nicolas Almagro
Nicolas Almagro has been extremely fortunate during the first week of the tournament.
After barely sliding by American qualifier Steve Johnson in the first round, Almagro won quick straight sets matches before a Janko Tipsarevic withdrawal gave him a quarterfinal berth.
Almagro may be the eleventh-ranked player in the world, but this is his first time reaching a Grand Slam quarterfinal off the clay at Roland Garros.
Couple that with quarterfinal opponent David Ferrer's 12-0 record against Almagro and it seems like it will be a tall order for Almagro to get out of the quarters, let alone win the title.
7. Jeremy Chardy
Jeremy Chardy is the only unseeded player left in the tournament, but he has played outstanding tennis during the first week of the tournament.
Chardy has knocked out seeded players in three consecutive rounds, the most notable of whom is sixth-seeded Juan Martin Del Potro in a strong five-set performance.
After Chardy went up two sets, Del Potro stormed back and seemed primed to sneak away but Chardy maintained composure and pulled the match out, demonstrating the great mental toughness that has propelled him all the way to a quarterfinal match with Andy Murray.
Murray holds a 4-1 edge over Chardy in prior matches, but Chardy won their last match on hard courts in Cincinnati.
All these strengths give Chardy the nod over 11th ranked Almagro, but with the way Murray has been playing recently, it's hard not to see Chardy's ride ending in the quarters.
6. Jo-Wilfred Tsonga
Tsonga had a relatively straightforward trip to the fourth round before looking very strong in his fourth round match against countryman Richard Gasquet.
The competition will be much stiffer starting with his quarterfinal matchup with world No. 2 Roger Federer.
Tsonga will hope that the addition of new coach Roger Rasheed will help him overcome his struggles during key points in his matches, a problem that has plagued Tsonga at the slams.
Tsonga has been here before, but he still hasn't shown he can consistently fight through adversity for the duration of the tournament, something he will have to do to beat players like Roger Federer and Andy Murray back to back to reach the final.
Tsonga is certainly the biggest wild card in the draw, as he has the game to beat anyone in the field, but his lack of consistency will likely prevent him from advancing any further.
5. David Ferrer
David Ferrer represents the polar opposite to Tsonga in the field. His grind-it-out play style has frustrated opponents to the tune of 499 career victories.
He'll look for number 500 against Almagro in the quarters, and as was noted earlier, his 12-0 career record against his compatriot speaks for itself.
Ferrer's problem however has not been with getting to a match with one of the "Big Four" of Djokovic, Federer, Murray and Nadal in majors, but what to do once he gets there.
Each of Ferrer's Grand Slam losses last year came to one of the top four, and in an interview from Greg Stutchbury of Reuters following his fourth round win Ferrer noted: "It is very difficult to win a grand slam because there are the top four. In this moment, the last three or four years, they are better than the other players."
One can respect Ferrer for his honesty, but the lack of confidence doesn't bode well as he potentially heads toward another match with one of the top three seeds.
4. Tomas Berdych
Berdych has been efficient in reaching the quarterfinals, not dropping a set so far.
Berdych finished the 2012 season strongly though, with a big quarterfinal win against Roger Federer at the US Open, demonstrating that he has the firepower to knock out a player like Djokovic in a Major setting.
Berdych also has the advantage of being fresher than Djokovic, who will be coming off a five-hour match in the round of 16.
There are certainly many factors in Berdych's favor going into the match, and if Berdych is able to knock off the defending champion, he would be primed to make a run to his first Grand Slam.
Unfortunately for Berdych, however, he doesn't have any Major wins to his credit, unlike the three men ranked in front of him.
3. Andy Murray
Murray finally had his breakthrough year in 2012, winning his first Major title in Flushing Meadows after taking home a gold medal in London.
Murray has looked good so far in Melbourne, with no hiccups along the way to his quarterfinal match with unseeded Jeremy Chardy.
With the way Murray is playing, it seems he's on track for a berth in the semifinal match with Federer that has been anticipated since the draw was announced.
Murray boasts a 10-9 record against Federer, but none of those wins have come at a Major.
Murray may have gotten over the major hump, but beating Federer and Djokovic in succession, something he will have to do to win the title if seeds hold otherwise, may be too daunting a task for the Scot.
2. Novak Djokovic
The two-time defending champion was the odds-on favorite at the start of the tournament, and with good reason.
His first week of play was more trying than the other top players, and despite what Nole says about being able to recover, he will be at a significant disadvantage if he continues having to play strenuous matches.
He has the noted advantage of only having to beat one of Federer or Murray to take the title, but despite his mental toughness, he has not looked at peak form at times during this tournament.
It would be less than surprising for Nole to take home his third straight Australian Open title, but if he comes out as flat as he did against Wawrinka in the final, he may not be able to pull it out.
1. Roger Federer
Federer has looked impressive during the first week of play. His accuracy was on full display in his fourth-round match against Milos Raonic, where he made only one unforced error in the entire second set.
Federer faces a player in Tsonga who has beaten him in a major before, but Federer's game looks crisp enough to lead him to the semifinal showdown with Murray.
Murray will be a tough test for Federer should the anticipated semifinal occur, but the 17-time Grand Slam champion has another gear against Murray in Majors, where Federer has never lost to him.
If Federer meets Djokovic in the final, the difficulty Djokovic has had in the earlier rounds may come back to bite the fresher Federer. Djokovic has seemed off at times, something he will need to fix by the final if he wants a chance at a three-peat.
Federer's game looks good enough, however, to give him the nod as the favorite to win the 2013 Australian Open.