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Australian Open: Day 8 - Djokovic, Murray, Ferrer advance...Tsonga Upset
In the second day of matches in the Round of Sixteen, we saw favourites Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and David Ferrer all cruise into the quarter-finals but Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was not so lucky. Tsonga was bounced from the tournament, in an absolute shocker, by twenty-fourth ranked Kei Nishikori from Japan.
Edmonton - January 23, 2012 - In the second day of matches in the Round of Sixteen, we saw favourites Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and David Ferrer all cruise into the quarter-finals but Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was not so lucky. Tsonga was bounced from the tournament, in an absolute shocker, by twenty-fourth ranked Kei Nishikori from Japan. The upset will keep the highly anticipated Murray vs Tsonga showdown from taking place but the fourth seed will now have to deal with a very loose and confident Nishikori, in would looks to be a very entertaining quarter-final match up.
Despite having the crowd in Rod Laver Arena behind him, Lleyton Hewitt found it very difficult even staying with Djokovic during the opening set of their fourth round match. After being blitz in the opening set, the Aussie did all he could to make a match of it and actually managed to take a set of the top ranked Serb. However, in the end Djokovic was simply too much to handle and the Aussie fell in four hard fought sets, 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. While his punishing ground strokes had Hewitt running all over the court, the never say die attitude of the former number one player in the world, pushed Novak for the first time at this years championship. After trailing 3-1 in the third set, Hewitt fought back, from what seemed like certain defeat, to break Djokovic twice and force the 24 year-old to his first fourth set of the tournament. He would right the ship in the fourth set, and returned to his previous form of playing near flawless tennis to dismiss the hometown hero. To say the rest of the field has their hands full with the defending champion, would be an understatement. Having said that, Hewitt proved that he actually is human and that the players remaining in this years draw, might just have a shot at pulling of an upset that seemed nearly unthinkable, just a few short hours ago.
In the upset of the day, Japan's Kei Nishikori eliminated sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in five sets 2-6, 6-2, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to become the first Japanese player to ever reach the Australian Open quarter-finals in eighty years. While Nishikori played nearly mistake free in committing only thirty unforced errors, Tsonga was on the other side of the fence. The big man has always had issues with his consistency and this afternoon was no different. His seventy unforced errors played a major role in his dismissal. The twenty-fourth ranked Nishikori deserves full credit for victory and for keeping points alive and simply waiting for Tsonga to make mistakes.
Fourth seed Andy Murray had a cake walk against Mikhail Kukushkin winning the first two sets 6-1,6-1 and was up 1-0 in the third when Kukushkin was forced to retire with a left hip flexor. Murray was obviously well on his way to victory before the injury and he will now face Nishikori in the quarter-finals. Murray who is still in search of his first career Grand Slam title, is hoping to make his third consecutive appearance in the Australian Open final.
In the surprise outcome of the day, fifth seed David Ferrer took apart seventeenth seed Richard Gasquet with ease 6-4, 6-4, 6-1. Many felt Gasquet had a shot at upsetting the 29 year-old but Ferrer was simply too much handle. The Spaniard's conditioning is well known amongst the players on tour and he still proceeded to run his much younger opponent, into the the ground over the opening two sets. So much so, that the 25-year-old Gasquet seemed to have little left in the tank for the third set. Ferrer will now face the defending champion in what could potentially be a pleasure for tennis fans everywhere. With both men almost never giving up on points, we may be treated to some highly entertaining and lengthy rallies, during their quarter-finals match.
Tuesday's action will feature the first two and arguably, most appealing, matches of the quarter-finals. Third seed Roger Federer will take on Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro, in what could end up being the match of the tournament, in the afternoon session. While second seed Rafael Nadal will have his hands filled dealing with seventh seed Tomas Berdych. As the field has now been dwindled down to eight, the quality of tennis should be world class from here on in.
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