Fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska squares off with 10th seed Carla Suarez Navarro for a spot in the Australian Open semifinals.
How they got here
Radwanska had little trouble in winning her first three rounds, defeating American Christina McHale 6-2, 6-3 in the first round. She then defeated Canadian Eugenie Bouchard 6-4, 6-2 in the second round. She followed that up with a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Puerto Rican Monica Puig. In her fourth round match against German Anna-Lena Friedsam, Radwanska rallied from 2-5 down in the third set to win the final five games 7-5.
Suarez Navarro has had a little more work to do to get to the quarterfinals. In her first round match, she defeated Swiss qualifier Viktorija Golubic 7-5, 6-4. In the second round, she faced another qualifier, Greece's Maria Sakkari, winning that one 6-7, 6-2, 6-2. In the third round, she knocked off Russian Elizaveta Kulichkova 6-4, 2-0 when Kulichkova was forced to retire due to injury. In the fourth round, Suarez Navarro came from behind to defeat Australian Daria Gavrilova 0-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Radwanska leads the head-to-head 2-1. Their meetings have been sporadic, with the Pole winning in the first round of the Canadian Open 6-3, 6-3 in 2009. They met again in 2012, Radwanska again prevailing in the second round of the U.S. Open 4-6, 6-3, 6-0. Suarez Navarro finally got the better of the Pole in the Round of 16 in MIami last year, winning 5-7, 6-0, 6-4.
What to expect
Radwanska possesses incredible feel and touch, seemingly able to hit a variety of shots, spins, slices and angles. Suarez Navarro has one of the best one-handed backhand in the world, creating winners off of that wing from anywhere on the court. Neither player has much power, so long rallies will be the order of the day in this one.
For Suarez Navarro, this represents her best chance to reach a Grand Slam semifinal as her previous quarterfinal appearances have come against much stiffer competition. Both players will feel fortunate to have made it to this match, having overcome big deficits in the previous round. For Radwanska, this is a match in which the pressure is all on her. She is the favorite to win and likely take on Serena Williams in the semifinals. Her reputation in big matches, especially as the favorite, has not been the best, last year's Wimbledon semifinal against Garbiñe Muguruza a classic case in point. This is a chance for her to turn that around.
Prediction: Radwanska in 3 sets. While I can certainly see Suarez Navarro winning this match, I feel Radwanska is playing at a higher level and has more options to choose from. Therefore, I see her advancing to her second career Aussie Open semifinal.