Australian Open 2014: Day Eight round-up first QF predictions

Just like my flu, the drama in Melbourne has not yielded, after the unthinkable with Serena’s exit there would be more shocks today – not however for those who predicted said happenings. Step forward; yours truly.

I fancied Cibulkova or Halep to upset the more established apple cart of proceedings but both delivered.

Halep – who has never before reached the quarters of any major – had the easier task, Jankovic is a former world number one of course and fared much better last year after some indifferent times, but the Romanian is arguably the form player of the tour.

Six titles at the tail-end of last year tells it’s own story and that momentum has clearly been maintained through the opening weeks this year. The 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 scoreline synonymous with Halep who just seems to take over proceedings.

Cibulkova is next and she’ll be rightly confident of further progress after putting to bed the tournament’s last real contenders besides Azarenka. Sharapova has struggled all fortnight and still hasn’t produced her devastating stuff as consistently as when in her pomp. Those injuries have put an end to that perhaps.

Miss Consistent – Aga Radwanska has herself hardly lived up to such a monicker recently, but looked in far better shape against the seedkiller Muguruza, will she have enough for Vika however?

There would be comparably little drama as last year’s semi-final rematch took place with Stephens succumbing to the power and penetration of Azarenka.

Quarter Final predictions – Women

Ivanovic to beat Bouchard in two
Pennetta to beat Li in three
Halep to beat Cibulkova in three
Azarenka to beat Radwanska in three

Rafa Nadal battled with blisters and the unwanted attention of a time violation or three against a tight tussle with Nishikori who more than once frustrated the Spaniard no end. The Japanese played the match of his life yet still couldn’t quite nick a set.

Dimitrov awaits Rafa next up after a four set triumph over Bautista-Agut, solid stuff from the Bulgarian but you sense his weaponry cannot hurt an on-song Nadal, blisters or no blisters.

Andy Murray sailed through against history-maker Robert (no lucky-loser has ever before reached the fourth round of a Slam) with little drama. A quarter-final contest with Roger Federer will not trouble the Scot no matter how well the Fed-Express has played all week and especially against Tsonga.

It was a masterclass of varied shot-making and aggressive net-play, a joy to behold and thanks in no small part to a certain Stefan Edberg. On this form Federer can relax and enjoy his tennis. if that equates to a year or two more of watching the great play then that is reward enough.

Quarter Final predictions – Men

Rafael Nadal to beat Grigor Dimitrov in three
Andy Murray to beat Roger Federer in five
Tomas Berdych to beat David Ferrer in four
Novak Djokovic to beat Stanislas Wawrinka in four

My predictions are almost exclusively the opposite of what i’d like to see but you cannot argue with the cold hard facts. I’ll nevertheless hope however that in a few cases i’m hopelessly wrong.

Day 8 – Seeds to fall
Maria Sharapova
Jelena Jankovic
Sloane Stephens
Grigor Dimitrov
Jo-Wilfred Tsonga

Day 8 – Al’s hero of the day – Dominika Cibulkova
The Slovak scrapes this one simply because – as with Ivanovic’s defeat of Serena yesterday one has to beat both the player and the incredible aura that surrounds the greats of the game. Cibulkova handled the pressure masterfully, even an opponent’s capitulation can mess with the mind. Federer almost took the title today, still the only player of this and the last generation to produce more gasps of admiration and simple awe with every shot.

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