- Strong 1st serve – risky 2nd serve – 15 aces – 72% won on 1st serve – 48% won on 2nd serve with 10 double faults
- Huge forehand – leads the tournament with 51 forehand winners
- Dangerous return of serve – 17 return winners leads the tournament
- Strong service game held 24 of 27 – won 76% on 1st serve – won 63% on 2nd serve – faced only 6 break points in 6 sets
- Has been extremely strong from the baseline – 62% baseline points won (tied for best in the tournament)
- Has not dropped a set
This is the first meeting between these two. Makarova is the favorite based on ranking, but Goerges is playing a high risk game effectively. The key to this matchup maybe the fact that Makarova’s natural lefty serve will target Goerges’ weaker backhand side. Goerges want this to be a match featuring her forehand and Makarova wants to target her backhand. The other key for Makarova will be her 1st serve. Goerges has hit 17 clean return winners and will look to attack when Makarova has to hit a 2nd serve. Getting 1st serves in play will help to negate that strategy.
- Strong first serve – 17 aces – 68% in play – 69% points won
- More unforced errors than winners (131 unforced errors – 116 winners)
- Has been pushed to 3 sets in every match so far – over 6 1/2 hours on court to reach 4th round
- Dominant return of serve – 83% returns in play – 41% won returning 1st serves – 62% won returning 2nd serves – 15 breaks in 28 return games played
- Solid ground game – 31 forehand winners – 17 backhand winners
- Has not dropped a set in reaching the 4th round
This is the 3rd meeting between these two with Wickmayer winning both previous matches in straight sets. But this is the first time they’ll play with Halep as the higher ranked player. Halep is one of the best returners in womens tennis and she’ll look to put pressure on Wickmayer’s serve, especially when she gets a 2nd serve. Wickmayer has had to fight her way through each round while Halep hasn’t dropped a set. Halep has been the more consistent of the two and will look to make Wickmayer work hard for every point. This should be Halep’s turn for a bit of revenge.
- Dominating return of serve – her opponents have held just 8 times in 25 games – 83% returns in play – winning 72% of her 2nd serve return points
- Big forehand – 33 forehand winners only 23 forehand unforced errors
- Lost just 14 games in 3 rounds
- Strong return game – 17 breaks in 32 games – 64% points won returning 2nd serves
- Second serve can be an issue – 45% points won – 19 double faults – she’s been broken 13 times
- Many more unforced errors than winners through 3 rounds (131 unforced to 68 winners)
This is the first meeting between these two. Both players have strong return games but Bouchard has been the more consistent and solid from the baseline. Begu’s 2nd serve can be erratic and that will play into the strength of Bouchard’s game. Begu has made almost twice as many unforced errors as winners through three rounds so she’s a bit lucky to be in this match. Big advantage to Bouchard in this matchup. It will take something out of the ordinary for Begu to pull an upset.
- Very strong return game – 82% returns in play – 66% won returning 2nd serves – 14 breaks in 29 return games played
- Most aggressive backhand in the tournament – 41 backhand winners – only 26 backhand unforced errors
- Very effective at net – won 41 of 52 net approaches (79%)
- Dominant return of serve – 82% returns in play – 42% won returning 1st serves – 70% won returning 2nd serves – 17 breaks in 32 return games
- Overpowering forehand – 49 forehand winners
- More total unforced errors than winners through 3 rounds (86 winners – 96 unforced errors)
Sharapova leads their head to head 4-1, but they’ve split the two matches they played on hard court. This is a battle of big backhand versus big forehand with both players having dangerous return games. 2nd serve could be the shot that determines the outcome as both players have dominated when returning 2nd serves. It will also be interesting to see which player controls the pattern of play – will it be predominantly backhands (advantge Peng) or predominantly forehands (advantage Sharapova).
Berdych vs. Tomic
- Big first serve – 36 aces – 137 mph – 83% first serve points won – held 40 of 45 service games
- Strong return of 2nd serves – 57% points won – 14 breaks in 42 return games (33%)
- Has not dropped a set – on court less than 6 hours to reach 4th round
- Dominating first serve – 57 aces – 73% in play – 78% points won – held 57 of 60 service games
- Big forehand (49 winners) – questionable backhand (17 winners, 48 unforced errors)
- Effective net play (won 43 of 67 approaches – 64%)
These two have played twice – both on grass at Wimbledon – with Berdych winning both in 4 sets. Tomic is maybe a bit more explosive – Berdych is a bit more steady and solid from the baseline. First serve is crucial for both players as they usually control the points on 1st serve but just break even when they have to hit 2nd serves. Both players favor the forehand with Berdych being a bit more solid on the backhand than Tomic. Tomic is unpredictable – he’ll change pace, spin and tactics on a whim and that makes him difficult to prepare for. He can also just tune out if things aren’t going his way so it will be key for him to stay focused throughout the match.
Anderson vs. Nadal
- Dominant first serve – 64 aces – 51% serves unreturned – 68% 1st serves in play – 80% 1st serve points won – held 49 of 54 service games
- Solid forehand play (26 winners, 25 unforced errors in his last two matches)
- Effective at net (won 69% of net approaches)
- Solid serving – won 75% on 1st serves – won 61% on 2nd serves including 10 double faults – held 45 of 50 service games
- 20 breaks of serve leads the tournament – won 40% of his return games
- Huge forehand – 60 forehand winners (also made 59 forehand unforced errors)
These two have played just once, over 4 years ago, with Nadal winning in straight sets. This matchup revolves around Anderson’s serve. If he serves well and can hold consistently, the pressure will shift to Nadal to keep pace. If Anderson struggles against Nadal’s strong return game, the match is over as he doesn’t have groundstrokes to stay with Nadal from the baseline.
Murray vs. Dimitrov
- Strong serving through three rounds – 78% 1st serves won – 67% 2nd serves won – held 36 of 41 service games
- 84% returns back in play leads the tournament – won 45% of his return games (18 of 40)
- Has not dropped a set – on court just over 6 hours in 3 rounds
- Booming first serve – top speed 143 mph – 32 aces – won 81% 1st serve points – held 51 of 56 service games
- Big forehand weapon – 57 forehand winners compared to just 12 from his backhand
- Lost 3 sets in 3 rounds
This is their 7th meeting – Murray leads the head to head series 4-2, but Dimitrov won 2 of the 3 matches they played last year. Both players have strong service games – Dimitrov has a bit more power but Murray has been more effective when hitting 2nd serves. the advantage Murray has over Dimitrov is in his return game. Murray leads the tournament with 84% returns in play. If he can continue to get returns back in play against the big Dimitrov serve it will keep the pressure on Dimitrov.
Kyrgios vs. Seppi
- Very strong serve game – 72 aces to lead the tournament – 48% of his serves did not come back – held 60 of 63 service games – saved 11 of 14 break points faced
- Weak return game – only 8 breaks of serve in 12 sets played
- Big forehand – 50 forehand winners
- Big forehand – 71 forehand winners
- Solid first serve – shaky 2nd serve – won 77% of 1st serves – won just 48% of 2nd serves – faced 27 break points – broken 8 times
- Strong return of 2nd serves – won 59% returning 2nd serves.
Kyrgios won their only previous meeting last year at the US Open in straight sets. Kyrgios has the bigger serve game and Seppi has the more solid return game. Both are stronger from the forehand side and Seppi has been a bit more solid from the baseline. This match is strength versus strength and weakness versus weakness. The key for Kyrgios will be to control his firepower, keep Seppi on the defensive and not let him get comfortable at the baseline.
18th seeded Venus Williams advanced to the round of 16 with a hard fought comeback win over Camila Giorgi 4-6, 7-6, 6-1 in 2 hours 26 minutes. The big serving Venus struggled on serve in the first 2 sets, particularly on 2nd serve winning just 11 of 26 (42%) of her 2nd serve points. In the final set she won 6 of 7 on 2nd serve and lost just 4 points in 3 service games.
But it was really the inconsistency from Giorgi that made the difference. She made 62 unforced errors (46 in the final two sets). In final set unforced errors were 23 for Giorgi and just 4 from Williams. Venus has also been particularly strong on return of serve. She broke Giorgi 6 times on 21 break chances – not a great conversion percentage, but the constant pressure took its toll.
Next up for Venus is the super steady Radwanska – it will be a completely different match as Venus will have to stay steady and aggressive.
Sister Act Continues
Serena Williams needed 3 sets to continue her march towards another Australian Open title. She defeated Elina Svitolina 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 in 1 hour 39 minutes. Serena came out looking lethargic, flat footed and slow. The results were 14 unforced errors and dropping serve 3 times in the opening set. Serena got a wakeup call in the 2nd set and played overpowering tennis in the final set. Over the last two sets Serena hit 33 winners and made 14 unforced errors holding serve 6 of 7 times and breaking serve 6 of 7 times to advance to the 4th round.
The New Radwanska…
Working with Martina Navratilova must be rubbing off on Agnieszka Radwanska as she dominated on serve to advance to the round of 16 with a 6-0, 7-5 win over Varvara Lepchenko in 1 hour 24 minutes. Radwanska held 8 of 9 service games – won 83% of her 1st serve points and fired in 5 aces. For the tournament Radwanska has held 22 of 24 service games with 14 aces and has faced only 8 break points against her serve. Radwanska played aggressively and yet made very few errors (23 total winners – just 10 unforced errors). If she can keep this up…watch out!!
Coco Vandeweghe faced off against fellow American Madison Brengle for a spot in the final 16. Vandeweghe came into the match as the only woman not to have lost serve in the tournament. She quickly jumped out to a 2-0 lead and it looked like she would roll over Brengle. Brengle held serve to trail 2-1 and broke Vandeweghe to even the match at 2. They each held for 3-3 and then the match turned for Brengle. Vandeweghe lost the next 7 games to go down 6-3, 4-0. Brengle served it out 6-2.
For the match Vandeweghe made 41 unforced errors – equivalent to 10 games – and her 28 total winners could not balance them out. Brengle realized how the match was going and pulled back, stayed solid and made just 14 unforced errors, allowing Vandeweghe to lose the match.
Returning to the round of 16
Victoria Azarenka continued her dominant return game, breaking serve 6 times to defeat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-4, 6-4 in 1 hour 46 minutes and return to the round of 16 at the Australian Open. It wasn’t a pretty match – Strycova had 19 winners and 39 unforced errors – Azarenka had 12 winners and made 32 unforced errors. Azarenka was a bit better on the big points and that was the difference. She converted 6 of her 10 break points and saved 9 of the 13 break points she faced.
Lefty Lopez in the 4th round
Feliciano Lopez defeated Jerzy Janowicz in straight sets to advance to the round of 16. Lopez fired 19 aces, held 16 of 17 service games and saved 10 of the 11 break points he faced. Lopez pulled out some “old school” tactics, serving and volleying 22 times and winning 14 of those points. Janowicz held 15 of 17 service games as two of the three sets were decided in tiebreaks. Janowicz had a set point in the first set tiebreak leading 6-5, but Lopez ran off the last three points to take the tiebreak 8-6. 2 of those 3 points were Janowicz unforced errors including a double fault to give away the set.
Top seeded Novak Djokovic did not joke around in defeating Fernando Verdasco 7-6, 6-3, 6-4 in 2 hours 21 minutes to advance to the final 16. Djokovic did not lose serve (16 holds), had 11 aces, zero double faults, won 82% of 1st serves and 68% of 2nd serves. Djokovic hit 43 total winners and made just 24 unforced errors. Djokovic created 14 break chances against the hard serving lefty, was able to convert only twice, but that was enough to secure the victory. Djokovic won 64% of Verdasco’s 2nd serve points which put the Spaniard under great pressure every time he missed a first serve.
No Breaks are Bad Breaks
John Isner lost serve just once in his 3rd round match against Gilles Muller, but that was one time too many for the towering American as Muller upset the 19th seed 7-6, 7-6, 6-4 in 2 hours 13 minutes. Isner was not able to break Muller’s serve and had just one break point in the match. Isner had more aces (30 to 24), more total winners (56 to 55), but also had more unforced errors (29 to 11) and that made the difference.
Service with a smile
Milos Raonic advanced to the sweet 16 with a straight sets win over Benjamin Becker 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 in 1 hour 41 minutes. Raonic held 13 of 14 service games, hit 22 aces, 71% of his booming 1st serves in play and won 83% of those points. He overpowered Becker with 46 winners to 21 from Becker and managed to break the German’s serve 5 times.
Stan was the man
Defending champ Stan Wawrinka was the attacking champ as he overpowered Jarkko Nieminen 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 in 1 hour 51 minutes. Stan hit 55 total winners to just 18 from Nieminen. He broke serve 6 times on 16 break points and won 90% of his own first serve points. Second serve was the only area of weakness for Wawrinka as he won only 49% of his 2nd serve points.
Strong and steady wins the match
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez advanced to the round of 16 with a methodical 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Vasek Pospisil in 2 hours. Garcia-Lopez wasn’t flashy or flamboyant, he played solid tennis and let Pospisil make the mistakes. The Canadian obliged with 40 unforced errors to just 18 from Garcia-Lopez. Garcia-Lopez took advantage of those errors to convert 5 of 8 break points and keep Pospisil feeling pressure all through the match.
The Keys to Success
19 year old Madison Keys faces two time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova for a spot in the final 16 at Melbourne Park. This will be a battle of serves – Kvitova has held 17 of 18 service games, Keys has held 19 of 22. Keys has more natural power (119 mph), but Kvitova has more variety and uses her left-handed slice to really open up the court on the Ad side. Both players have explosive forehands, but Kvitova’s backhand has more pop than Keys’. Second serve performance will be crucial for both players as they each have the ability to hammer returns when the opponent’s serve sits up.
The key for Keys may be her ability to stay under control against the hard hitting lefty. Keys can sometimes try to hit too hard, go for too much and the results are too many unforced errors. Keys will need to stay solid and consistent and pick the times to attack.
Here come the American Men…
19th seed American John Isner faces another big server in lefty Gilles Muller for a spot in the last 16 at Melbourne Park. Muller has knocked out a couple of Spaniards on his way the 3rd round and hasn’t faced anyone with a serve like Isner’s. Isner’s hit 59 aces in two rounds and 65% of his serves have not been returned. He’s held 36 of 37 service games in the tournament. Muller has hit 56 aces in his two rounds and held 34 of 36 service games. It looks like we could be in for a few tiebreaks.
American Steve Johnson faces the 5th seeded US Open runner up Kei Nishikori in the 3rd round. Johnson has lost serve just once in two rounds here saving 9 of the 10 break points he faced. He’s won 80% of his first serve points but less than half of his 2nd serves. Nishikori has been broken 6 times, but he’s known more for his all court game and his ability to attack off the ground. Nishikori has dominated on return of 2nd serves (64% points won) so it will be key for Johnson to get a lot of his first serves in play.
The rise of Romania
Unseeded Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu advanced to the 4th round of a major for the first time in her career with a straight sets win over Carina Witthoeft 6-4, 6-4 in 1 hour 26 minutes. It wasn’t pretty – lots of unforced errors from both players as they felt the pressure of expectation and tried to overpower each other (31 unforced from Begu – 36 from Witthoeft). It came down to who played the big points better and that was Begu. She saved 6 of the 9 break points against her serve and converted 5 of her 8 break point opportunities.
3rd seed Simona Halep gives Romania two players in the final 16 with her 6-4, 7-5 win over American Bethanie Mattek-Sands. It was a real battle as both women are true fighters. Halep proved to be just a bit more solid than Mattek-Sands – 29 winners to 26 for Halep – 25 unforced for Halep, 33 for Mattek-Sands. Halep held 9 of her 11 service games winning 79% on her first serve and 55% on 2nd serves. She kept the pressure on Mattek-Sands, generating 9 break points and converting 4 times. It was a good test for the world number 3 and Mattek-Sands tried everything and Halep was up to the challenge.
The Genie Army marches on
7th seeded Eugenie Bouchard continued her march into the round of 16 with a 7-5, 6-0 victory over hard hitting Caroline Garcia. Garcia hit more winners than Bouchard (17 to 14) as Bouchard chose to play steady and wait for Garcia to go for too much. The plan worked as Garcia made 38 unforced errors to just 17 from Bouchard.
Will the real Maria Sharapova please stand up
After saving 2 match points in her 2nd round match, the “real” Maria Sharapova showed up on Rod Laver Arena and set things straight. She overpowered Zarina Diyas 6-1, 6-1 in just 61 minutes to advance to the last 16. Sharapova dominated on return of serve, breaking Diyas 6 times and winning 60% of her return points. Her serve was solid (78% 1st serve points won) and she played a much cleaner match (22 total winners, 19 unforced errors). Diyas could not match Sharapova’s power or intensity, with just 7 total winners in 88 points played.
Under the radar – into the 4th round
7th seed Tomas Berdych has quietly advanced into the round of 16 without dropping a set. The bad news for the rest of the field is Berdych has gotten better with each match. In the 3rd round he handled Viktor Troicki 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in 1 hour 15 minutes. His serving performance was almost flawless – he hit 20 aces – lost 15 points in 15 service games and did not face a break point. Berdych hit 55 total winners and made just 19 unforced errors. The only part of his game that wasn’t spot on was his return of serve on break point. He created 12 break points and converted only 3, but that was all he needed as he broke once per set to take the match.
6th seed Andy Murray, the forgotten one of the “big 4” with the emergence of Wawrinka and Nishikori, has quietly advanced to the 4th round without losing a set. His all court game was on full display as he dispatched Joao Souza 6-1, 6-1, 7-5 in 2 hours 6 minutes. Murray broke serve 7 times in 13 return games, held 12 of his 13 service games, hit 39 total winners and made just 29 unforced errors. For the tournament, Murray has 100 total winners to only 70 unforced errors and has broken serve 18 times in 9 sets played. And now with Federer gone, Murray has a much easier path to the semifinals where he’s seeded to play Rafael Nadal.
A true Baghdatis battle, but youth prevailed
It took everything the 10th seeded Grigor Dimitrov had to defeat 2006 finalist Marcos Baghdatis. Dimitrov came from 2 sets to 1 down to prevail 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in 3 hours 28 minutes. In the final two sets Dimitrov did not face a break point and kept the pressure on Baghdatis. Baghdatis faced 10 break points in the final two sets as younger legs made a difference from the backcourt for Dimitrov. For the match Baghdatis had more total winners and unforced errors (winners 51-42, unforced 57-52).
An upset for the aged…eh, ages…
30 year old Andreas Seppi upset the 2nd seed 33 year old Roger Federer 6-4, 7-6, 4-6, 7-6 in 2 hours 57 minutes. How close was this one? Total points won Federer 145, Seppi 144. It was a match that hinged on a few key points and for Federer the difference was his inability to get his first serve in on those key points and his inability to take advantage of his break point chances throughout the match.
Federer had 10 break chances and converted 3 – Seppi had half as many chances to break and also converted 3 times. Federer had 3 break points to even the first set at 5-5 but failed on all 3 and Seppi took the set 6-4. Federer led 4-1 and 5-3 in the 2nd set tiebreak only to lose it 7-5. Federer put only two first serves in play in the 4th set tiebreak and threw in his 9th double fault of the match when serving up 3-2 in the tiebreak.
For the match Federer hit just 59% of his 1st serves in play (his averaged 64% for 2014 and was averaging 68% in play for the tournament through his first two rounds). Federer had also been dominant on his 2nd serve through two rounds (66% points won) but against Seppi he won just 48% when he had to hit a 2nd serve. Many of those points came on unforced errors (he made 55 unforced errors, 5 fewer than his first two matches combined).
This loss by Federer opens the way for young Australian Nick Kyrgios to the quarterfinals. He’ll have 75th ranked Malek Jaziri and 46th ranked Seppi in his path to the quarters – all of Oz is waiting to see if he can come through.
Feeling better are we?
Rafael Nadal was feeling much better in his 3rd round match than in the 2nd round where he was pushed to 5 sets in over 4 hours on court. In the 3rd round he defeated Dudi Sela 6-1, 6-0, 7-5 in 2 hours 4 minutes – less than half the time of his 2nd round struggle. Nadal broke Sela 7 times and now has 20 breaks of serve through three rounds to lead the tournament in that category. Nadal was not broken in the match as he saved all 7 break points against his serve. 43 total winners against just 25 unforced errors also showed how well his game recovered from his struggles just two days ago.