Ace’s picks to win: Williams and Sharapova
Karen’s picks to win: Williams and Makarova
It feels sometimes that we are playing a Premier tournament on one day and a Grand Slam the next day. That is how lopsided, unequal and disappointing it has been for one side of the draw, compared to the next.
Even before the seed decimation that took place on day one, the bottom half of the draw was particularly weak, however, now that it is coming down to the business end of the tournament the matches on the bottom half have been particularly uninspiring.
The day started out with No. 7 seed and last year’s semi-finalist, Eugenie Bouchard going up against Romania’s Irina Camelia-Begu. Apart from a spirited effort by Begu to take the second set, the match was desultory. It could be that I was tired or maybe I was comparing it to the matches that were played on day 6 from the top half of the draw.
Next up was No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova going up against Shuai Peng. Again, apart from a spirited effort by Peng in the first set, this match was a foregone conclusion. Even worse, Peng, who can’t seem to stay healthy, had both legs heavily strapped. After fighting to break back for 4-3 in the first set, Peng would not win another game.
Meanwhile over on Margaret Court Arena, Julia Georges dream run came to an end at the hands of Ekaterina Makarova.
In the night session Simona Halep made light work of Yanina Wickmayer. The quarter-finals are therefore all set on the bottom half with Bouchard going up against Sharapova and Halep against Makarova.
Day 8 sees the top half of the draw playing their round of 16 matches and the matches on tap could not be more exciting.
Rod Laver Arena
Azarenka v. Cibulkova – Cibulkova has got here on guts alone. She has fought tooth and nail through every match to make it to the round of 16. Azarenka on the other hand has played inspiring tennis up to this point. In her previous match against Strycova she struggled somewhat. Her matches with Cibulkova have always been epic and this one should be no different. Look for Cibulkova to end Azarenka’s dream run.
Williams (S) v. Muguruza – The meme on this match up is all about what Muguruza did against Serena Willliams at the French Open in 2014. This is a new tournament and a new year. In 2014 Serena’s mission was to tie Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. Now that she has accomplished that feat,she has set her sights on two things. Tying Steffi Graf and attempting a calendar year Grand Slam. She was tested in her previous match but came through in flying colours. Muguruza on the other hand has been struggling throughout this tournament, but has come through with exellent game play and a mental toughness not seen in a long time. However, this is where Muguruza’s story ends as the younger Williams will be looking to add to her impressive Grand Slam resume.
Williams (V) v. Radwanska – this match is scheduled for 3:00 a.m. EST and I for one will be ensuring that I am up and about when it is happening. Venus has not fared well at the hands of Radwanska from their last meetings and this one will perhaps be no different. Venus will need to start well. She will need to serve and return much like she did in the third set against Giorgi and she will need to not get into long rallies with Radwanska. Radwanska has been playing very good tennis but this will be her first true tennis since taking Martina as a coach.
Margaret Court Arena
Keys v. Brengle – These are the 2 surprises of this tournament. Both Madisons are young Americans with 2 differing styles of play. Keys has one of the biggest serves and forehands on the women’s Tour. Brengle on the other hand is exceptionally quick around the court and redirects pace very well. Keys usuallly has a hard time with players who defend well and she will have to ensure that she does not become engaged in protracted rallies. She will also need to reign in her game in much the same way she did against Kvitova.