What to Watch on Monday, Day 8 at the Australian Open
ABS-CBN Sports on Jan 24, 2016 09:09 PM
Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland hits a backhand volley to Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016.(AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — French Open champion Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic meet for the fifth time when they play a fourth-round match Monday at the Australian Open. The 25-year-old Canadian hopes their first meeting in a Grand Slam tournament will go better than the previous four in non-majors.
Wawrinka, the 2014 Australian Open champion, is unbeaten against Raonic — three times on hard courts and once on clay. The last time they met, in Rotterdam last year, the Swiss player won in two tiebreak sets, and there have been tiebreak sets in their three other matches.
"Never lost, but always been some tough matches," Wawrinka said after his third-round win over Lukas Rosol. "He's trying to improve. He's trying to go there. He's trying to win a big title."
Raonic, who beat Roger Federer in the Brisbane International final in early January, has a plan against Wawrinka.
"I like to work with my serve and my forehand. He likes to work with his serve and ... obviously likes to go for his backhand," Raonic said. "I think we both have the very clear goal of wanting to dictate and control the pace of the match and the rhythm."
Here are some things to watch in other fourth-round matches Monday:
LOOKING FOR THREE: Two-time Australian champion Victoria Azarenka takes on Barbora Strycova among four women's matches in the bottom half of the draw. Azarenka won the Brisbane International and was one of the few leading players coming into the Australian Open without injuries. She's been helped by first-round losses to No. 2 Simona Halep and No. 8 Venus Williams and No. 3 Garbine Muguruza's third-round defeat. Azarenka has only dropped five games in three matches. "I'm pretty happy with the way I'm playing," Azarenka said. "I want to still keep improving from match to match, because it's only getting harder from here." A win for Azarenka would advance her to a potential quarterfinal against the highest seeded player left in the bottom half of the draw — No. 7 Angelique Kerber, who plays fellow German Annika Beck.
MURRAY VS. TOMIC: Bernard Tomic reached the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in 2011 as an 18-year-old qualifer, his best performance so far at a major. To match that feat as a 23-year-old, he'll have to beat Andy Murray. The Australian, seeded 16th, has looked strong in his opening three matches at Melbourne Park after advancing to the quarterfinals at the Sydney International. "I just feel so confident on court," Tomic said after his straight-set win in the third round over John Millman. "Anyone can beat anyone now. Especially with the tennis I'm playing, I'll go out there believing I can win and focus on my service games. I know I'll get some chances on his." Murray has been distracted in the lead-up to the match with the recovery of his father-in-law, Nigel Sears, who was here as coach for Ana Ivanovic. Sears collapsed during Ivanovic's match on Rod Laver Arena on Saturday night — while Murray was beating Joao Sousa at a nearby stadium — and is recovering. Murray's wife, Kim, is also close to having their first child. Tomic has failed to win a set in three previous matches against Murray, all on hard courts and most recently in last year's Davis Cup semifinal. The winner faces the David Ferrer-John Isner winner in the quarterfinals. The other men's fourth-rounder has Gael Monfils playing Andrew Kuznetsov, with the winner facing the winner of the Wawrinka-Raonic match in the quarterfinals.
SURPRISES: The other women's fourth-round matches feature a few surprises. Zhang Shuai had never won a Grand Slam singles match until this tournament, but upset Halep in the first round and the Chinese qualifier will play No. 15 Madison Keys. The winner of that match faces either No. 21 Ekaterina Makarova or Johanna Konta. The Sydney-born Konta is the first British woman to reach the Australian Open's round of 16 since Jo Durie in 1987.