Places in the Australian Open quarterfinals were up for grabs Sunday, with some of the biggest names in tennis vying for a spot in the next round. It was a day devoid of upsets but hardly lacking in surprises or compelling storylines.
Let's take a look at the results and a glance forward at a few of the most intriguing quarterfinal matchups.
|(1) Novak Djokovic||6||6||6||4||6|
|(14) Gilles Simon||3||7||4||6||3|
|(24) Roberto Bautista Agut||6||4||3||6||3|
|(6) Tomas Berdych||4||6||6||1||6|
|(3) Roger Federer||6||6||6|
|(15) David Goffin||2||1||4|
|(9) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga||4||2||4|
|(7) Kei Nishikori||6||6||6|
Roger Federer cruised, Novak Djokovic fought his way to a tough victory and Tomas Berdych and Kei Nishikori each managed to advance Sunday, as four of the top seven seeds in the tournament continued on to the quarterfinals.
Gilles Simon gave Djokovic all he could handle, taking the match to five sets and notching one of the prettiest shots of the tournament:
But the ever-resilient Djokovic was able to hold off the Frenchman while also battling himself; he had an uncharacteristic 100 unforced errors in the match, per BBC Sport. Djokovic nonetheless advanced to his 27th straight quarterfinal at a Grand Slam, an incredible run of consistency on tennis' biggest stages.
Awaiting Djokovic is Nishikori, who cruised past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets, though the latter had one of the more memorable moments of the match:
Federer, meanwhile, brushed aside David Goffin with ease, a result that surprised even the Swiss.
"I'm pleased with how I played," Federer said, per BBC Sport. "David normally gives me a hard time in practice, so I was surprised at how well I went."
Awaiting Federer is the always dangerous Berdych in an intriguing matchup with a place in the semifinals on the line.
|(12) Belinda Bencic||5||5|
|(5) Maria Sharapova||7||7|
|(1) Serena Williams||6||6|
|(10) Carla Suarez Navarro||0||6||6|
|(4) Agnieszka Radwanska||6||6||7|
There weren't any surprises in the women's bracket either, as the four highest seeds in play all advanced, albeit with varying degrees of ease.
No. 1 seed Serena Williams barely broke a sweat, annihilating Margarita Gasparyan in straight sets. That sets up the most anticipated match of the tournament thus far, as Williams will face No. 5 seed Maria Sharapova in the quarterfinals after the latter knocked out Belinda Bencic, 7-5, 7-5.
Williams, for one, is excited about the matchup:
Williams should be confident—she's beaten Sharapova 17 straight times. Really, she has dominated Sharapova more than she's just beaten her, as Sharapova has won just three sets against her in that time, per Christopher Clarey of the New York Times.
The one positive for Sharapova is an improved serve, as Jim Caple of ESPN noted:
Though she made a lot of unforced errors (46) Sunday, one thing Sharapova has going for her is an improved serve. She has 52 aces this tournament, the most of any woman, and 27 more than Williams. She especially showed the strength of that serve against Bencic, out-acing her 21-0. She averaged 103 mph per serve during the nearly two-hour match, a tad higher than what Serena averaged (102 mph) in her much shorter match Sunday.
Bencic beat Williams in Toronto last summer. Asked to describe the difference between playing Sharapova and the woman with the game's best serve, Bencic replied, "Today I didn't feel like there was a difference serving. It was even tougher against Maria. She was acing everything, no?"
Sharapova will need her serve to be at its best to beat Williams, and even that may not be enough. The match will certainly be compelling with two of the top players of this tournament, if nothing else.
While that contest will be the highlighted one, Agnieszka Radwanska shouldn't be taken lightly, though she was taken to the brink by Anna-Lena Friedsam, who was affected by an injury she suffered late in the match.
Nonetheless, it was Radwanska's 12th straight win, making her one of the hottest player's in the women's game at the moment. She'll face Carla Suarez-Navarro in the quarterfinals.