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Australian Open: Day 7 - Roger and Rafa on course for semi-final battle
Saturday saw the start of the Round of Sixteen and while we were treated to some exceptional tennis, all four favourites moved onto the quarter-finals. By winning their fourth round matches, former champions Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer remain on course to face one another in a highly anticipated semi final match.
Edmonton - January 22, 2012 - Saturday saw the start of the Round of Sixteen and while we were treated to some exceptional tennis, all four favourites moved onto the quarter-finals. By winning their fourth round matches, former champions Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer remain on course to face one another in a highly anticipated semi final match.
Nadal played his best tennis of the tournament in dismissing fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. The number two ranked Nadal was in top form and dominated the proceedings from the get go. Rafa played a near perfect match, serving a ridiculous 80% for the match while committing only fourteen unforced error on the afternoon. The former number one player in the world, had Lopez moving all over the court and looks to be in top form heading into the quarter-finals. His next opponent will be number seven seed, Tomas Berdych, who beat another Spaniard in Nicolas Almagro to advance.
In what was the best played match of the day, Berdych won a very tight four set battle, 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6. The Czech used his big serve and twenty-eight aces to win all three tie-breakers. The match did have its controversy, when Berdych refused to shake Almagro's hand at the conclusion of the match. During the fourth set, the number ten ranked Almagro fired a ball directly at Berdych and hit the 6'5" seventh seed in the bicep, in winning a crucial point. Nicolas immediately went to apologize and check to see if his opponent was alright but Berdych would have none of it. In my opinion, the Spaniard did nothing wrong and by the number of boos that were directed towards the big Czech after refusing to shake hands, the Aussie crowd thought the same.
Federer took on Australian teenager Bernard Tomic in the feature match of the day and the Swiss legend was in top form. After taking an evenly played first set, with a late break, the four-time Australian Open champion proceeded to give the young Aussie a tennis lesson. Federer effortlessly moved around the court and simply put on a clinic for all to enjoy. He used the entire repertoire - drop shots, volleys, passing shots, forehand, backhand, in winning 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. It was a masterful performance and one that Roger will likely have to duplicate, in order to defeat a rejuvenated Juan Martin Del Potro.
The eleventh ranked Argentine made quick work of Philipp Kohlschreiber with a straight set 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 victory. Del Potro seems to have finally found his high end game after struggling for much of last season, in which he was returning from wrist surgery. The former US Open champ dominated Kohlschreiber from the opening game by using his powerful ground strokes while making only fourteen unforced errors for the entire match. Playing Federer will be a challenge for the big man but it has the potential of being the match of tournament...at least to this point.
Day Eight will feature the rest of the Round of Sixteen matches, including Australian legend Lleyton Hewitt taking on top seeded Novak Djokovic. Other matches will see Andy Murray against Mikhail Kukushkin, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga taking on Japan's Kei Nishikori and in what could be the best of the bunch, fifth seeded David Ferrer is set to do battle with seventeenth ranked Richard Gasquet.
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