All the favorites in the men’s and women’s draw advanced to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Day 7.
While Grigor Dimitrov showed glimpses of his potential in his four-set loss to sixth seed Andy Murray, it was 19-year-old Australian Nick Kyrgios who lived up to the hype with a thrilling five-set win over Andreas Seppi to become the first Australian man to reach the last eight since 2005.
Kyrgios Reaches Second Grand Slam Quarter-Final
Kyrgios, who also reached the quarter finals at Wimbledon in July, started slow against giant killer, Seppi. Seppi had knocked off Roger Federer on Friday as the Italian won the first two sets 7-5, 6-4. Cheered on by a raucous crowd on Hisense Arena, the teenager fought back to win the third set 6-3, then saved a match point to win the fourth set and completed the win in extra time in the decider. The 5-7 4-6 6-3 7-5 8-6 win makes him the first teenager to reach multiple Grand Slam quarter-finals since Federer in 2001 and set up a mouth watering showdown against Murray for a place in the semi-finals.
Kyrgios could not quite believe he had comeback to win as he stated in his post-match on-court interview,
“It’s crazy. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. When I saw I had finally won the match it was incredible. It was the best feeling I ever had. To know the body could come back from two sets to love, knowing I haven’t had matches, it’s just massive confidence.”
Dimitrov, still waiting to fulfill his and others expectations of him, was expected to trouble Murray and the Bulgarian surely had his chances in the match but it was the Scot who came out a 6-4 6-7(5) 6-3 7-5 winner in a match that saw several momentum swings. The final one came when Murray came from 2-5 down in the fourth set to win five games in a row and reach his sixth consecutive quarter-final in Melbourne.
Speaking after the match, Murray commented,
“I think I got quite lucky at the end. A few net cords went my way. A lot of the games even in the fourth set … the momentum was switching a few times.”
Nadal to meet Berdych in the last eight
Earlier in the day, third seed Rafael Nadal overcame a few hiccups in the first set and then cruised past big-serving South African Kevin Anderson 7-5, 6-1, 6-4 to set up a quarter-final clash against the seventh seed Tomas Berdych, who had little trouble against 22-year-old Australian Bernard Tomic, winning 6-2, 7-6, 6-2. Nadal may have a perfect 17-0 record against Berdych but is still not taking the Czech player lightly.
“Doesn’t matter what happened in the past. Is different story this time. Different moment for me; different moment for him. So the way we arrive to that match don’t going to affect what happened in the match. I’m sure of that. He’s a great player. I have success against him, but I have the chances to lose against him. I remember 2012 probably I had a very, very tough match against him here. It was close to be two sets to love down. He’s a player that is top level.”
Berdych is doing everything he can to erase the 0-17 record – the most one-sided record on either the ATP or WTA Tour currently.
“Every opponent, even if is the same one, then the match is different. It’s going to start from 0-0. That’s how it is. No comparing with the past. Just trying to be in this time and looking forward to it.”
Sharapova and Bouchard Set up Blonde Battle
Ever since she broke on to the scene a couple of years ago, there have been constant comparisons between Eugenie Bouchard and Maria Sharapova – both blonde, both good looking, both successful, both with a steely resolve and both a marketer’s dream. The two will square off for the fourth time on Tuesday after both scored fourth round wins today.
Bouchard was the first to advance, overcoming a second set meltdown to beat the Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 6-1, 5-7, 6-2 while Sharapova had an easier time beating the US Open semi-finalist Shuai Peng 6-3, 6-0. The Russian has won all three of their previous meetings but their last encounter, in the semis at the 2014 French Open, was a tight three-set affair. Bouchard has done well to defend her run from last year and the pressure will all be on the Russian’s shaky shoulder.
Also advancing on Sunday were third seed Simona Halep and Russian Ekaterina Makarova. Halep was at her tactical best as she beat Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 6-4, 6-2 while Makarova, through to the last eight for the third year in a row here, defeated German Julia Goerges 6-3, 6-2.
Paes/ Hingis make winning start
In the mixed doubles, seventh seeds Leander Paes and Martina Hingis made a winning start to their campaign with a 6-2, 7-6 win over local wild cards Masa Jovanovic/ Sam Thompson, a pair of amateurs who won a play-off tournament to enter the main draw. The mixed is the only event among the seniors where Indian interest remains alive with Paes and Sania Mirza both moving into the second round.
So a better day for India and a good one for the hosts as well with Nick Kyrgios continuing his progress in the professional ranks. Look out for the Nick Kyrgios vs Andy Murray quarterfinal match as it may will be one for the ages