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It's hotting up down under

Our very own Hawk Eye Stephen Kelly explains who’s in and who’s out as the Australian Open starts to get interesting.

Image: PA Wire/PA Wire/Press

AFTER A FOURTH round of minor surprises but no major shocks, six of the top eight men’s seeds have safely progressed to the Australian Open quarter-finals.

Aleksandr Dolgopolov once again produced the stand-out result of the round with a five set victory against fourth seed Robin Soderling, who never got to grips with the effeminate Ukrainian’s unorthodox style.

Dolgopolov suffers from a mysterious blood condition and has struggled with the physical demands of the tour in the past but showed no signs of weakness with his second successive five-set victory over a seeded opponent.

Waiting for Dolgopolov in the quarter-final is Andy Murray, who made light work of Austrian southpaw Jurgen Melzer in their fourth round match, dropping just five games.

Rafael Nadal also continued his smooth progress through with a straight-sets win over Marin Cilic and will be heavy favourite when he takes on compatriot David Ferrer, a poor man’s version of himself, in the last eight.

The Rafa Slam is still very much alive although his true form is tough to gauge given the opposition -  or lack thereof – he has encountered so far.

The most intriguing quarter-final match looks to be Roger Federer’s clash against compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka, the man who partnered him to an Olympic doubles gold medal in Beijing.

Wawrinka hit a frankly ridiculous 67 winners in a straight sets demolition of Andy Roddick in the last round and is undefeated in nine matches this season after allegedly leaving his wife and child to concentrate on his career late last year.

In the remaining quarter-final Novak Djokovic will take on Tomas Berdych with both players easing to straight set fourth round victories against Nicolas Almagro and Fernando Verdasco respectively.

The players met in the Wimbledon semi-final last year with Berdych prevailing comfortably but Djokovic has won all four of their hardcourt encounters in straight sets and will fancy his chances of revenge.

In the last 16 of the women’s draw Francesca Schiavone edged Svetlana Kuznetsova in the tie of the fourth. Their four-hou-44-minute marathon was the longest match in history of ladies slams and the Italian will need to recover quickly to face top seed Caroline Wozniacki in the quarter final.

Wozniacki’s press conferences have attracted more attention than her on-court performances so far but she has been quietly impressive and dispatched the unseeded Anastasija Sevastova comfortably in the last 16.

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Maria Sharapova was the highest-profile fourth round casualty but given her performances in Melbourne up to that point, her defeat to 30th seed Andrea Petkovic was hardly a major surprise.

Petkovic, better known up to now for her ridiculous victory dance, will now face Li Na who is the form player in women’s tennis right now and took the title in Sydney earlier this month.

Second seed Vera Zvonareva recovered from a shaky start to get the better of one Czech lefty – Iveta Bennesova – and will face another, in the form of Petra Kvitova, in the last eight.

Should she prevail, a semi-final clash against tournament favourite Kim Clijsters looks likely with the Belgian heavy favourite to take out Agnieszka Radwanska in their quarter-final match up.

Although the tournament has been a bit light on classic matches up until now, with nearly all of the biggest names still in the draw all that should change over the next six days.

About the author:

Stephen Kelly

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