Australian Open 2011 Heating Up

Australian Open 2011
By Hiland Doolittle, January 22nd, 2011

The field in the Australian Open 2011 is down to sixteen men and sixteen women.  The Round of Sixteen play begins on Day 7 with 4 matches from the Wozniacki half of the women’s draw and four matches from the Federer half of the men’s draw.

The first three rounds produced some compelling tennis and when combined with a couple key injuries, some unexpected faces have emerged to battle for berths in the quarterfinals.

The first players in each draw begin the two-week marathon Grand Slam Championships with a short term goal of making it to week two, or the business end of the tournament as Patrick McEnroe likes to call the final week. Congratulations to all those that are still standing.

Here are the 16 players, their pairings and our selections for the Round of Sixteen.

The Women – Caroline Wozniacki Bracket - Day 7

Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) vs. Anastasia Sevasota (LAT) – Sevastota crushed Vesina Mansieva 6-1, 6-2 and is playing better than expected.

Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki

Caroline Wozniacki has the power and foot speed to attack Wozniacki’s second serve.  The top seeded Wozniacki has won 129 tour matches in the past two years.  She did not get there by losing matches to unseeded players.

Caroline will patrol the baseline like a shark looking for prey.  Might go three but Wozniacki will make Vesina hit balls she did not expect to come back.  After a while, it wears on you.

Kuznetsova (RUS) vs. Schiavone (ITA) – The 23 ranked Kuznetsova pulled the biggest surprise of the tournament by ending Justine Henin’s run at the title.  With two Grand Slams in her pocket, Svetlana Is not thinking about anything less than the title.  After her winter fitness commitment, she is moving better than ever and we know she has all the shots.

Reigning French Open Queen, Italy’s Francesca Schiavone (6), might find herself against the wall in this one.  A true fighter, Francesca may not have the weapons in the arsenal to stay with the Russian.

Kuznetsova wins this one going away.

Maria Sharapova (RUS) vs. Andrea Petkovic (GER) – There will be four long legs on the court when these two 6’0” players take the court.  Sharapova’s rehab is coming along well.  However she faulted 11 times against Julie Goerges in her three set win.  Petkovic won when  Venus Williams had to retire after one game.  We think she’d have won that match anyway.  The German has plenty of game and is more consistent than Maria.

If Petkovic can stay away fro the Sharapova forehand, she wins this match.

Na Li (CHN) vs. Victoria Azarenka (BLR) – Azarenka (8) and Li (9) provide the most balanced match of the day.  Azarenka will try to win with power and Li will try to win by playing great defense, just as she did against Venus Williams last year.  Neither player has lost a set in the tourney.  If Azarenka can keep her focus and avoid the emotional slides that have caused her many matches, she can beat anyone.

We like Azarenka in a gutsy battle.

The Zvonareva Bracket – Day 8

Shuai Peng (CHN) vs. Aganieszki Radwanska (POL) –  Shuai Peng may be unseeded but she is plenty tough and very determined.  She will give the 12th seed Radwanska all the Pole can handle.  Radwanska is in form and has not lost a set thus far.

If Radwanska does not force the offense, se wins.

Ekaterine Makarova (RUS) vs, Kim Clijsters (BEL) – Clijsters may well be in for a battle with yet another tough lefty.  Makarova showed heart in downing fellow Russian Nadia Petrova 6-2, 3-6, 8-6.  Clijsters was pushed by Alize Cornet, 7-6 (3), 6-3 but as usual applied too much pressure.

Makarova will open some eyes but the Belgian number one prevails.

Petra Kvitova (Czech) vs. Flavia Pennetta (ITL) – Another 6’0” Czech lefthander!  What are they growing over there?  Kvitova methodically broke down Australia’s five seed Samantha Stosur and crafted a crisp 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory.  This gal has game and is unafraid.

Italian Pennetta upset Shahar Peer (10), 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4.  The veteran Pennetta used all her guile to pull the upset.  She will need more than that against Kvitova who just took out the WTA’s best server and showed the courage of Cool Hand Luke in front of a heckling crowd.

Kvitova wins in two.

Iveta Benesova (CZE) – Vera Zvonareva (RUS) – This will be a good one!  Another Czech lefty upset Russia’s fireballer Anastasia Pavlyunchenkova (16) 6-3, 1-6, 7-5.  Benesova played the big points like a veteran and has all the weapons.  The second seeded Zvonareva downed another lefty, Lucie Safarova 6-3, 7-6 (9).  Vera had trouble with the left handed action. She may be more comfortable by Day 8, but these Czechs mean business.

We like the upset here.  Benesova shows the crowd the Czech tennis is back.

The Federer Bracket Day 7 Parings

Roger Federer (SUI) vs. Tommy Robredo (ESP) – Federer’s quest for number 17 keeps moving ahead.  While he has not been really tested yet, challenges are in the offing.  Roger Federer downed Xavier Mallisse to set up this match-up between two seasoned players.

Unseeded Robredo needed four sets to quiet Sergiy Stakhovsky 5-7. 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.  Robredo and Federer have played nine times.  Federer has won all nine matches.

There seems no reason to think Federer will not extend his winning streak.

Andy Roddick (USA) vs. Stanislaus Wawrinka (SUI) – Analysts are criticizing Roddick’s new patient style of play.  He needed all that patience to survive against young Robin Haase of the Netherlands in four.  His 32 aces helped.

Stanislaus Wawrinka (19) is a veteran player who has a solid baseline game.  He upset Gael Monfils with his consistent play.  The Swiss has a 2-1 record against Roddick.

In a tight match, we have to go with the big server.  Roddick by a nose!

Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. Nicolas Almagro (14) – Djoko won be the retirement of his doubles partner after one set.  He is rested and playing with the confidence of a man who led his country to the Davis Cup title.

Almagro made the Round of Sixteen via a strong performance against Ivan Ljubicic 6-4, 7-6 (8), 6-3.  Almagro will keep Djoko on the court and make him hit the extra ball.

2008 Champion Djokovic should advance but there is potential for an upset, especially if the weather is hot.

Tomaz Berdych (CZE) vs. Fernando Verdasco (ESP) -  Berdych made fast work of Richard Gasquet 6-2, 7-6 (3), 6-2 and is ready for a stronger challenge from Spain’s other lefthander, Fernando Verdasco (9), a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 winner over Kei Nishikori.  Verdasco is a fan favorite and presents problems for the six seed.

Verdasco has won all four of their previous matches.  We like his track record and mindset.  Take the Spaniard and be ready for a five setter.

The Nadal Bracket -  Day 8

Rafa Nadal (ESP)  vs. Marin Cilic (CRO) – As it seems in every Grand Slam, Rafa has arrived in the Round of Sixteen efficiently and without much resistance.  On Day Six, he not only overcame teen sensation Bernard Tomic but also overcame a very boisterous home crowd in the 6-2, 7-5, 6-3 win.  Tomic acquitted himself well but now understands the depths of training he will need to pursue.

Marin Cilic broke big serving John Isner in the 16th game of the fifth set to register a hard earned, 4 hour 28 minute win.  The Croatian simply out worked Isner who had chances to win the match in the tiebreaker but could not muster the strength when he needed it most.  A good win for Cilic but it will probably take a toll.

Cilic and Nadal have only played once and Cilic won.  Not this time.  Nadal takes it to the overworked Croatian.

Milos Raonic (CAN) – David Ferrer (ESP) - The 7th seeded Spaniard has his hands full against one of the two Cinderella stories in the men’s draw.  Milos Raonic is here to stay.  The hard hitting Raonic worked his way through the qualifier and downed 10th seeded Mikkhail Youzhny 6-4, 7-5,4-6, 6-4.  Unlike Isner, this guy has a ground game.

Ferrer had an easy outing against unseeded Richard Beranks, 6-2, 6-2, 6-1, but was pressed by Michael Russell in Round Two.

We like the Canadian’s youth and game to overcome Ferrer.

Robin Soderling (SWE) vs, Alexander Dolgopolov (UKR) – There is no new news about Robin Soderling.  He is playing with purpose and strategy.  The fourth seed has yet to lose a set.

Upstart Alexander Dolgopolov had too much game for Jo Willy Tsonga, who appeared a bit out of shape.  The Canadian beat the 13th seed 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.  He took the heart right out of Jo Willy.

We like Soderling in this one but it will be a tight match.

Andy Murray (GBR) vs. Jurgen Melzer (AUT) – Nobody is playing any better than last year’s runner-up.  Murray looks focused, and sharp. On Day 6, he cruised through 32nd seeded Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3.  Like Soderling, the fifth seed has yet to drop a set.

Jurgen Melzer (11) looks fit and trim and the first dividends arrived yesterday against tough Marcos Baghdatis.  Trailing 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 4-3, Marcos was forced to retire due to injury.

Murray should win in four.


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