Australian Open 2014: Last-Minute Look at Remaining Men's Quarterfinal Matchups

Tim KeeneyContributor IJanuary 21, 2014

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 25:  Andy Murray of Great Britain shakes hands with Roger Federer of Switzerland after Murray won their semifinal match during day twelve of the 2013 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 25, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Would it be selfish to ask for an encore? 

Novak Djokovic and Stanislas Wawrinka—as they have become accustomed to doing whenever they meet in Grand Slams—just gave the tennis world a five-set thriller.

And if the two remaining men's quarterfinal matchups provide anything even close to what those burgeoning rivals put on display, we're in for another captivating day in Melbourne. 

If this is what tennis has become, I'm on board. 

Not too far in the past, when Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were always in the top three, it was usually a very predictable run up to the semifinals. 

But now we have Andy Murray who, when healthy, is a part of that elite group. We have Wawrinkaalways a possessor of major talent but just in need of mental toughnesswho is continually getting better and just got his signature win. We have David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych and several others who can beat anyone on any given day. 

As a result, we are now being treated to scintillating quarterfinal matchups. 

We got one of those on Day 9 in Australia, while Day 10 features two more alluring contests. 


Andy Murray (No. 4) vs. Roger Federer (No. 6)

Aaron Favila/Associated Press

If we're going to get anything close to Djokovic vs. Wawrinka on Day 10, this is the match that's going to provide it.

Ever since Federer's last major win at Wimbledon, in which he disappointed the host nation by beating Murray in the finals, the Scot has had the head-to-head advantage. He took gold over Fed-Ex in the Olympics five weeks later, then prevailed in five sets in Australia last year. 

Still, after a fairly miserable end to his 2013 season, Federer looks rejuvenated. With a new coach at his side, he made it to the finals at Brisbane before losing to Lleyton Hewitt (who, coincidentally enough, also beat Murray last week) and has rolled through the first four rounds in Melbourne. 

Federer has yet to lose a set all tournament and that includes an marvelous victory in which he made quick work of the always-formidable Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. He has been broken just once in an astounding 56 service games and Bloomberg Sports provided this other telling stat:

Murray, meanwhile, has looked solid in his return from back surgery, losing just one set through the opening four rounds, but he also hasn't been tested. 

Despite the 26-year-old's youth and recent success over Federer, you have to give the slight advantage to the Swiss star. Either way, though, this one is going the distance. 


Rafael Nadal (No. 1) vs. Grigor Dimitrov (No. 22)

Aaron Favila/Associated Press

The World No. 1 is obviously the favorite, but let's not be too quick to place him in the semifinals. 

In three career matches, the Bulgarian has fared well against Nadal, going 0-3 but taking him to three sets every time. That includes last year at Cincinnati, shortly before the Spaniard went on to win the U.S. Open.

Moreover, Rafa is coming off a fairly grueling three-set battle against Kei Nishikori in the fourth round that lasted more than three hours. His fitness shouldn't be much of a problem, but he also developed a nasty blister on his left hand. 

It didn't seem to bother him much, but afterwards he said, via "The feeling on the racket is a little bit more difficult." 

Nadal will still prevail in the end, but don't be surprised if Dimitrov finds a way to push it to four sets.