If we have learned anything at this year's Australian Open, it is that no one is untouchable.
Serena Williams represented the first major upset as the top seed fell to No. 14 Ana Ivanovic. A few days later, four-time champion Novak Djokovic was knocked out by Stanislas Wawrinka. These notable results overshadowed the eliminations of David Ferrer and Maria Sharapova.
While there are still a few top seeds remaining, they certainly cannot assume they will cruise through the quarterfinals against tough competition. Day 10 is likely going to be full of some close battles, so make sure you follow along for all of the action.
Which top remaining seed is most likely to go down on Day 10?
Where: Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia
Start Time (local): Wednesday, Jan. 22, at 11 a.m. AEDT
Start Time (U.S.): Tuesday, Jan. 21, at 7 p.m. ET
TV (U.S.): ESPN2
TV (U.K.): BBC
TV Schedule: 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. ET
|Rod Laver Arena||No. 11 Simona Halep vs. No. 20 Dominika Cibulkova||Women's QF||11 a.m.|
|Rod Laver Arena||No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska vs. No. 2 Victoria Azarenka||Women's QF||2nd match|
|Rod Laver Arena||No. 1 Rafael Nadal vs. No. 22 Grigor Dimitrov||Men's QF||3rd match|
|Rod Laver Arena||No. 4 Andy Murray vs. No. 6 Roger Federer||Men's QF||7:30 p.m.|
No. 11 Simona Halep vs. No. 20 Dominika Cibulkova
Simona Halep has not had the toughest run to the quarterfinals, facing only a single ranked opponent in this stretch. That came in Round 4 against Jelena Jankovic, a match that ended with a 6-0 final set.
Dominika Cibulkova certainly had a more impressive win over Maria Sharapova. However, Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated points out that a lot of this had to do with the Russian star:
This is an upset but not an UPSET. Sharapova missed the second half of 2013 with a shoulder injury, so this event was a comeback of sorts and Sharapova still carries the tennis equivalent of ring rust. She came within two points of defeat against Karin Knapp in the second round, and was lucky to pull out that victory.
Today, she looked tentative for considerable stretches of the match, struggled -- as she often does -- with her serve (eight double faults) and was hampered by a hip injury that necessitated a call to the trainer.
Still, a lot of credit has to go to Cibulkova, who is skilled at simply getting to the ball and putting it back on the other side of the court. She is great defensively, and she often waits for opponents to make mistakes.
Halep is only averaging 6.3 winners per set this tournament, and she does not have a strong enough serve to put Cibulkova off her game. The "Pocket Rocket" will be able to pull out a win after a long, back-and-forth match.
Prediction: Cibulkova wins 6-4, 5-7, 6-3
No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska vs. No. 2 Victoria Azarenka
Most were expecting Victoria Azarenka to have a tough challenge in Round 4 with Sloane Stephens. However, she made easy work of her American opponent, dropping only five games in the straight-set win.
In four matches, Azarenka is yet to lose a single set, and a tiebreak in Round 1 was the only time she was truly close.
Meanwhile, Agnieszka Radwanska has been solid, but not spectacular in her first few matches. She has kept errors down in the last few, but she also has struggled a bit defensively. This is not a good thing against someone who can hit some hard shots.
Azarenka has won the last seven matches against Radwanska, as well as 10 of the last 11. In most of those cases, the No. 5 seed simply could not stop the first serve.
As long as Azarenka avoids double faults, the No. 2 seed should remain in line to win her third-straight title.
Prediction: Azarenka wins 6-4, 6-3
No. 1 Rafael Nadal vs. No. 22 Grigor Dimitrov
It was not your typical straight-set victory, but Rafael Nadal escaped with an impressive win over Kei Nishikori that featured two tiebreaks and another close set. People like Chris Fowler were impressed by the play of the Japanese star:
Nishikori showing a lot of grit against Nadal, and the belief that makes it possible. Pleasantly surprised. Thought he'd fade by now.— Chris Fowler (@cbfowler) January 20, 2014
Still, this just goes to show that it takes almost perfection for a good player to defeat Nadal.
Grigor Dimitrov has plenty of potential and has shown the ability to beat many talented opponents thanks to an impressive serve that gets him a lot of aces. It is tough for anyone to defend, and he does not see too many break points.
Unfortunately, this plays right into the strength of Nadal, who does as good of a job limiting Dimitrov as anyone in the world. The 22-year-old will then have to rely on some defense to keep the match alive, and this does not seem likely.
Dimitrov might steal a set with some great serves, but he will not be able to pull off the upset in the quarterfinals.
Prediction: Nadal wins 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3
No. 4 Andy Murray vs. No. 6 Roger Federer
Andy Murray missed the end of last season with back surgery, which is certain to limit him in the early going of 2014. Even he was cautiously optimistic when discussing the upcoming match against Roger Federer in The Sydney Morning Herald:
It'll be the highest level I've played at since the surgery. I've been hitting the ball well and clean so far, but when you play up at that level, if there's anything you aren't doing at 100 per cent, players like Roger are going to exploit that. I'll need to play a great match to beat him.
Obviously, both players will have to perform well in order to earn a win. However, Federer is the one who has shown much more promise this season.
The superstar has been simply magnificent with his serve so far in the tournament even against top competition. He defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets thanks to winning 88 percent of first serves, many of which were on a serve and volley.
Federer has not lost a single set in this tournament, and it will be difficult for Murray to keep up with the aggressive play at the net.
Murray still has the potential for some great shots, but he is still rusty and will not be able to hold on in a long match.
Prediction: Federer wins 6-4, 5-7, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2
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