With the Australian Open now over halfway through, Noel and I were able to get together on Monday to discuss the fourth round action in Melbourne.
The fourth round has arguably been dominated by two big upsets on Monday, though there were several other talking points for us to contemplate during the podcast.
Men’s Singles: Djokovic and Thiem crash out
There can be no doubt that biggest fourth round results came on Monday, with Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic, seemingly set for a last eight clash, both losing in shock results.
The biggest shock in terms of ranking was Thiem’s loss. The Austrian looked comfortable in his third round match but was simply not good enough as he fell to world number 97 Tennys Sandgren in five sets, whilst Djokovic looked out-of-sorts as he fell in three tight sets to NextGen Finals champion Hyeon Chung; Sandgren and Chung will now face off for a place in the last four, with both Noel and myself backing the Korean to win.
Meanwhile, the two aren’t the only surprise quarterfinalists, with Kyle Edmund beating Andreas Seppi to set up a meeting against 3rd seed Grigor Dimitrov. The Bulgarian improved on his past two matches with a win over Nick Kyrgios on Sunday, and both of us believe the third seed will reach back-to-back semifinals in Melbourne.
Meanwhile, there was the first real test of the tournament for Rafael Nadal, with the Spaniard seeing off 24th seed Diego Schwartzman in four sets. The world number one faces Marin Cilic next, with the Croatian looking dangerous ahead of their quarterfinal meeting. Furthermore, Roger Federer once again prevailed in straight sets against Marton Fucsovics, though was a little off his best in that match and both Noel and I believe that the defending champion will have a big test against Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals; the 19th seed has impressively beaten Juan Martin del Potro and Fabio Fognini in his past two matches, and has beaten the second seed at Grand Slams before.
Women’s draw: Keys, Halep amongst those who impress
There were several interesting fourth round matches on the women’s side, with Madison Keys and Simona Halep being amongst those who impressed as they sealed a quarterfinal berth in Melbourne.
Keys struggled after reaching the US Open final last year, but is yet to drop a set in Melbourne after a comprehensive win over eighth seed Caroline Garcia, and has an incredibly interesting quarterfinal match against Angelique Kerber, who came from a set down to beat Hsieh Su-wei; both Noel and myself expect this to be the pick of the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, after playing for almost four hours on Saturday against Lauren Davis, Halep eased past the potentially dangerous Naomi Osaka to reach just her second quarterfinal in Melbourne. Sixth seed Karolina Pliskova will be Halep’s last eight opponent, and the Romanian is arguably the favorite to beat the Czech for the fifth time in six meetings.
Meanwhile, both Elina Svitolina and Caroline Wozniacki also won comfortably, with the two still set for a highly interesting semifinal clash. The Ukrainian easily ended the run of qualifier Denisa Allertova to reach the last eight, prevailing 6-3, 6-0, whilst Wozniacki beat 19th seed Magdalena Rybarikova by the same scoreline to reach her first quarterfinal at the tournament since 2012. Neither, however, has an easy last eight clash.
Svitolina will come up against the highly-talented Elise Mertens, who is yet to drop a set; both Noel and I think Svitolina will win but believe the Belgian has a shot at causing the upset. Wozniacki will face the experience Carla Suarez Navarro, who rallied from a set and a double break down to beat Anett Kontaveit, and she too could pose a threat to one of the title favorites.