Australian Open Quarter Finals, Tuesday, January 26, 2016, Melbourne Park, Watch on Seven Network
Roger Federer ($1.15) vs. Tomas Berdych ($5.50), 3.05pm AEDT
Novak Djokovic ($1.13) vs. Kei Nishikori ($6.05), 7.15pm AEDT
THE two brightest stars in tennis will be in action in the Australian Open quarter finals on Tuesday.
And both world number one Novak Djokovic and Swiss legend Roger Federer are the hot favourites to book the date that everyone wants to see in the semi finals.
But first they have to make it past a pair of feisty customers who both have plenty of ability on the tennis court.
And if you’re chasing the ace, you can be sure to get a few extra dollars in your betting kitty if you back in the two champs.
WilliamHill.com.au’s brilliant promotion has punters high giving each other as they bask in the extra dollars for every ace their bet serves.
All you have to do is have a bet of $20 or more on your player and every ace he or she hits during the match will put $1 in your account.
Djokovic is not a huge server, but he has been consistently producing around nine or 10 every match.
That’s free money in your pocket.
Federer’s best effort was a brutal 25 against Alexandr Dolgopolov – that means $25 on top of punters winnings, but he has been on a downward spiral, producing 13 and then just seven in his ensuing matches.
It will be tough again for him against Berdych, who has only had double figure aces hit against him once – by the big serving, but erratic Aussie Nick Kyrgios.
It looks like a pair of lopsided matches on paper, but this is the quarter finals, where anything can happen.
Federer vs. Berdych
Match result: Roger Federer wins ($1.15 with CrownBet.com.au)
Correct set score: Roger Federer wins 3-1 ($3.60)
First set winner: Roger Federer ($1.30)
Seeded at three for the tournament, Federer has had a relatively easy path through to the quarter finals, dropping just the one set against Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and mauling German David Goffin in the fourth round, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4.
He will be well rested and raring to go against the Czech Berdych, who dropped just the one set against Kyrgios, but then had to dig deeps to take out a marathon fiver setter against Spaniard Roberto Bautista-Agut, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3.
After going two sets to one up, Berdych took the foot off the pedal against the Spaniard and almost paid for it dearly, losing the fourth set 6-1, before finding something special to come back and win the last. He won’t get that chance against Federer.
Admittedly, this is the first time in the tournament Federer has played an opponent of real substance, with Berdych seeded sixth and enjoying some the best form of his career.
He is certainly a real danger of an upset here and we would not be surprised if he nicked a set off the champ, who holds the ledger between these two with 15 wins to six from their 21 previous meetings.
They played each other three times last year and Berdych failed to take a set from Federer, but they were all in three set matches.
The Australian Open is obviously over five sets, which gives the younger man a bit more time to try and make some in roads into the match.
The last time Berdych, 30, beat Federer was in 2013, and we think the Swiss maestro will make it five wins on the trot and put himself in the quarter finals, most likely against the world number one.
“I’m just going to stick with the things that I’m doing right now,” said Berdych.
“I think it’s been a great preparation. It’s been a great start to the season.
“He’s playing really well, especially in the last season. He’s become a very, very dangerous opponent, as always he is.
“It’s always difficult to say something else or something new. I mean, it’s Roger, so it’s always going to be a huge challenge to play him. It’s the quarter-final of a slam.
“I like my chances.
“I’m just looking forward to that match.
“I just have to believe in myself that all the work I’ve done, it’s the right one, and I’m strong enough and competitive enough to also beat those guys.
“I don’t think there are any miracles waiting.”
We don’t think there are either, but Federer said he was worried about Berdych’s serve on the Rod Laver courts.
“I think the court suits him … this sort of flatter bounce and faster court is good for his serves, good for his returns,” he said.
Djokovic vs. Nishikori
Match result: Novak Djokovic wins ($1.12 with CrownBet.com.au)
Correct set score: Novak Djokovic wins 3-0 ($2.05)
First set winner: Novak Djokovic ($1.24)
Well, well, well. The world number one is human after all.
Up against 14th seed Gilles Simon, world number one Djokovic produced a remarkable 100 unforced errors in an uncharacteristically sloppy performance that almost cost him his quest for an unprecedented sixth Australian Open title.
But he escaped in five sets with a 6-3 6-7(1) 6-4 4-6 6-3 win to keep his title defence on track.
The Japanese Nishikori has dropped just the one set on his way to the toughest assignment in tennis and he belted the Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarters, in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.
But the last time he managed to beat Djokovic was in the 2014 US Open semi finals, when he made it all the way to the final, only to be beaten by Marin Cilic.
Could we see a repeat of that performance? Look, anything is possible, but we really don’t think Djokovic will produce another performance quite as bad as the one he churned out against Simon.
Watch him bounce back with a vengeance and clean up Nishikori in straight sets.
The scare against Simon is not a good thing for his opponents. We don’t think is shows weakness, rather an off night that he will be hell bent on not repeating.
“Actually it gives me great joy to know that I can’t get worse than that, than what I played today,” Djokovic said.
“It doesn’t concern me for the next one.”
And that means the guys who have to play him are going to cop some seriously good tennis. Good luck to Nishikori – and the Fed Express, if those two end up in a dream semi final after tonight.
“It’s going to be tough,” said Nishikori, in the understatement of the century.
“Novak is playing amazing this year.
“One match at a time. I focus on what I have to do.
“I felt very good.
“Especially against a player like Jo, it’s great to win in straight sets and I thought I played a good match.
”Really happy to be in a quarter-final … good recovery and hopefully I can play another good match.
“We played in London and he kind of destroy me.
”It wasn’t easy match for me. It’s different condition, but I hope I can make some changes and try to play better.
“I’m ready to beat him again.“
Good luck mate.
The Djoker in straight sets and on to Federer.
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