Well, here we go again, another day of sizzling quarter final action from Melbourne. Yesterday I managed to pick 2 of 4 matches correctly, and while it's not too shabby, I'm not proud of it either.
All I can say is, I'll try to do better today. Here goes:
1. Petra Kvitova vs. Vera Zvonareva, 11Am, Rod Laver
Zvonerava is averaging 5 service breaks per match and Kvitova is only surrendering 1. Kvitova has been masterful at serving out wide and taking short returns and putting them away. But the crafty Zvonareva has the tools in her bag to force Kvitova out of her comfort zone. Whoever has their way in this facet of the game will have a huge advantage.
Pick: Zvonareva in 3
2. Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Kim Clijsters, not before 12:30, Rod Laver
Radwanska is in the quarters, but she has yet to play a top-50 player. Clijsters has also had a nice draw, with No. 49 ranked Ekaterina Makarova her highest ranked foe. Kim had shaky patches in her matches against Alize Cornet and Makarova, but she was pretty much in command throughout. Radwanska, meanwhile, survived a near death experience in the round of 16 against Shuai Peng.
Radwanska lacks the firepower of Clijsters, but she does have ability to play great defense and take away her opponents rhythm. But Clijsters will be a tough ask, no matter how well Radwanska plays.
Pick: Clijsters in 2
3. Alexandr Dolgopolov vs. Andy Murray, 3rd match, Rod Laver
This is the wildcard match, where nobody — include Murray on this list — knows what to expect from Dolgopolov. He's shown in his last two upsets that he's pretty much impervious to pressure. He's also shown that he's come a long way in a relatively short time. He's quick, powerful, deceptive, and somewhat quirky. He seems to go on protracted periods of out-of-this world shotmaking too.
But if there is anybody who would enjoy the challenge of taking on the phantom of the draw, it would be Murray. The Scot will look to try to deny Dolgopolov his comfort zone by imposing his crafty, fetching combination of dink-and-dunk, angles, spin, and selective power, but he'll have to serve effectively to get the lead.
That's my question regarding Andy Murray. I think he's ready to win the whole thing in Melbourne save for one small concept. The concept of lights-out serving. When Andy can dial his serve in and keep it dialed in for the last three rounds of a Slam, that is when he'll get over the top.
Opportunity knocks again for him today. But it is knocking just as loudly for Dolgopolov.
Pick: Murray in 4
4. Rafael Nadal vs. David Ferrer, 7Pm, Rod Laver
Oh boy. Oh joy. I have this gut feeling that Ferrer is going to enjoy the conditions at night, and I think he might push Nadal to the brink. But he's lost 7 in a row to Rafa, and he probably has nightmares about him the way that Wawrinka has nightmares about Roger.
Of course there is the possibility that Rafa does have some lingering flu-like symptoms, and if that is the case, Ferrer is the guy that can really expose that sort of thing. Let's not forget he upended Rafa on Arthur Ashe in the fourth round of the U.S. Open in 2007. If things start to go Ferrer's way for whatever reason, he'll begin to draw upon this memory and push even harder.
Of course, the Rafa of 2007 was a lot different from the Rafa of today.
Pick: Nadal in 5