Australian Open Day 9 preview
(Transcript from World News Australia Radio)
The quarter-finals get underway on Tuesday at the Australian Open tennis tournament.
Kristina Kukolja takes a look at the men’s and women’s singles competition on Day Nine of play at Melbourne Park.
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A sense of deja vu will pervade the spectator stands when eighth seed Stanislas Wawrinka and world-number-two Novak Djokovic of Serbia take to the court in their quarter final-match on Tuesday.
Just twelve months ago Djokovic took over five hours to defeat the Swiss in a gruelling five-setter in round four at Melbourne Park.
In 2014, the defending champion hasn’t dropped a set to reach the final eight, easily dismissing his Italian opponent Fabio Fognini in the fourth round.
Wawrinka, too, hasn’t really struggled to reach the quarter-finals this year, losing two opponents to injury along the way.
The 28-year-old comes to Melbourne with an impressive year behind him in which he broke into the men’s top ten, and played his first ever Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open.
Having lost to Djokovic on that occasion and 13 more, Wawrinka says he welcomes the chance to try again to break the Serb’s winning trend against him.
“He’s an amazing player, especially in a Grand Slam. [He’s] really tough to beat. I had five sets against him here last year, fives sets in the US Open, but didn’t win. I didn’t find the solution to beat him. So, it’s going to be really difficult, but I’m trying every time to improve. I’m practicing to play that kind of match, a quarter final here against one of the best players in the world and I will have a chance to try to beat him, and that’s the most important.”
In Tuesday’s other men’s quarter-final match, the Czech Republic’s seventh seed, Tomas Berdych will play David Ferrer of Spain.
Ferrer, the men’s world number three, leads Berdych 7-4 in head-to-head competition, although Berdych won their most recent meeting at the ATP World Tour Finals in London last November.
This is Berdych’s fourth consecutive quarter-final appearance at Melbourne Park, having defeated South Africa’s Kevin Anderson in round three.
Going into the match, Ferrer – twice a semi-finalist at the Australian Open – says he’s pleased with his Grand Slam performance so far.
“The last four or five years I played very good in the Grand Slams. I maintained [myself in the] top ten, so I’m very happy for that.”
In the women’s draw, Canada’s 30th seed Eugenie Bouchard hopes to continue her successful run at Melbourne Park.
The 19-year-old surprise quarter-finals contender will face 2008-runner-up Ana Ivanovic of Serbia – the woman who caused the tournament’s biggest upset at the weekend when she eliminated championship favourite and world-number-one Serena Williams.
Bouchard, pushing past Australian Casey Dellacqua to reach the final eight, is the first Canadian to play in the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam in over two decades.
She and Ivanovic have met only once before, at Wimbledon last year.
Bouchard won that match, but says she’s not taking anything for granted in Melbourne.
“She beat Serena (Williams), so she’s playing really well. I saw a little bit of the match and she was definitely playing really well, so I’m going to look forward to just a really tough battle. We’re in the quarter-finals now and she deserves to be there. No one’s going to give it to me, so it’s going to be a good match.”
Awaiting the winner in the semi-finals will be the winner of Tuesday’s match between Chinese fourth seed Li Na and Flavia Pennetta, Italy’s 28th seed.
Li, twice a finalist at the Australian Open, is playing in the quarter-finals here for the third time in four years.
Pennetta achieved her best career results last year by reaching the US Open semi-finals, and is hoping to do the same – and more – at Melbourne Park.
In their thirties, both women are regarded as veterans of the game and at the older end of the competitor spectrum.
Pennetta says her attitude towards tennis has changed over time.
“When you are old you are starting to have different goals and try to enjoy a little bit more the life. Also, when I was young for me it was really easy to stay a few months out of my house, don’t see my parents. Now everything is starting to be difficult. I love to come back. I love to spend time with them most of the time. So, I’m here to try to play my best tennis, try to enjoy every moment, and my best.”