Australian Open 2012 TV Schedule: Top Men's Matches to Watch on Day 8

Nick Nemeroff@NNemeroffCorrespondent IIJanuary 23, 2012

Australian Open 2012 TV Schedule: Top Men's Matches to Watch on Day 8

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    Day eight has the upper half of the men's draw in action.   

    Highlighting the day's affairs, both Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic will take to the court looking to advance to the quarterfinals, joining both Federer and Nadal.

    In addition, two extremely engaging matches involving David Ferrer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are also scheduled to take place.

    In this article, I am going to highlight and make a prediction for three of these matchups.

    Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think about these matches.

1. Richard Gasquet (France) V. David Ferrer (Spain)

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    David Ferrer is 5-1 all time against Frenchman Richard Gasquet.

    In this 2012 Australian Open match, don't be surprised if the tables turn on the feisty Spaniard.  

    Gasquet placed an extremely comprehensive beating on rising Serbian Janko Tipsarevic, only conceding seven games and presenting some of the best form I personally have seen from Gasquet in quite some time.

    After struggling through his second-round match against American Ryan Sweeting, Ferrer thoroughly handled Juan Ignacio Chela.

    In terms of the careers of these two players, they could not be any different.  Gasquet has been a serious underachiever.  As a junior in France, Gasquet was touted as having the potential to ascend to the top of the men's game.

    In contrast, Ferrer has definitely fulfilled his potential many times over.  Looking at the Spaniard's game, he possesses no real weapons on the serve and ground strokes, which would understandably make him appear as someone who would fail against the top guys in the world.

    Throughout his career, the Spaniard, currently ranked five in the world, has combined heart, grit, and tenacity to ascend the rankings.

    In this match, I'll take the in-form Gasquet to defeat the weary looking Ferrer in five sets.

2. Kei Nishikori (Japan) V. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (France)

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    The last two times these guys have met, Nishikori has unexpectedly had Tsonga's number, taking him out in Shanghai last fall and in Kooyong last week.

    Both of these matches had the Japanese No. 1 rallying back from a set down to capture each match in three sets.

    Nishikori has been made to work thus far, barely scathing through Matthew Ebden after fighting back from a two set deficit and slid through his third round match with Julien Benneteau 6-4 in the fourth set.

    Tsonga has only dropped a single set this week, that being to Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin in the opening round.

    Otherwise, the powerful Frenchman has looked hungry and determined to battle through the draw and capture his first Grand Slam title, which is definitely a possibility even in the age of Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer.

    Unfortunately for Nishikori, I think the road ends here.  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is the far more experienced player at this level, having reached the Australian Open final in 2008 whereas Nishikori has never been past the fourth round of a major.

    I am going to say Tsonga takes out Nishikori in a tight four-set match.

3. Lleyton Hewitt (Australia) V. Novak Djokovic (Serbia)

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    Bernard Tomic had the hopes of a nation resting upon his shoulders coming into his fourth round match against Roger Federer.

    Tonight, Lleyton faces the same lofty expectations as he takes on world No. 1 Novak Djokovic within the vamped up confines of Rod Laver Arena scheduled as the second night match.

    Hewitt has certainly provided the Australian crowd with much to talk about by taking out three quality opponents in Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, Andy Roddick, and most surprisingly, Milos Raonic.

    After his devastating opening round loss to David Nalbandian in last year's Australian Open, Hewitt has brought out the reserves as he seeks to make what may be one last push in Australia.

    Djokovic will be ready and potent to halt Hewitt in his tracks.  Having only dropped ten games in the course of three matches, Djokovic appears to have recollected the form that propelled him to the No. 1 ranking and three Grand Slams in 2011.  

    Hewitt will have to play the match of his life and hope for the Serb to have an off night.  It's really that simple.

    I think the Aussie fans will be quickly subdued as Novak Djokovic will take out Hewitt in three straightforward sets, setting up a quarterfinal matchup with either David Ferrer or Richard Gasquet.