All 4 matches tonight have a sub 1.20 favourite. Azarenka, Serena, Murray and Federer are all capable of slow starts although being the quarter finals of a Grand Slam I aren’t expecting upsets.
First up is Azarenka v Kuznetsova. If you were holding a gun to my head, while we were waiting for the Police to arrive I’d probably give you this match as the least unlikely to produce a shock result.
In 2013 Azarenka hasn’t faced a top opponent. She was due to meet Serena Williams in the semis in Brisbane but withdrew before the match due to injury. In this tournament she lost a set to Jamie Hampton and was a break down in the third set. If Hampton can get to a winning position surely a rejuvenated Kuznetsova has a shot at reaching another Slam semi final.
Kuznetsova repeated her recent victory over Wozniacki in the last round. I’d say she needed Woz to make a real hash of the deciding set. I had expected Kuznetsova to fade badly in that third set but maybe the adrenalin kicked in and kept the “old” bones moving.
Kuznetsova leads the head to heads 4-3 but it’s almost 4 years since she beat Azarenka. Since then they have played twice, both in 2012, and Azarenka won both in straight sets. One of those was on a hard court and ended 6-1, 6-2.
Azarenka starts at 1.14 which has to be a lay from the start. It will take a massive serving performance from Kuz if she is to grab a set.
Update: Kuznetsova had a good try but it wasn’t quite enough. The initial lay worked ok but no huge return.
Azarenka won 7-5, 6-1.
Serena Williams is up against new sensation Sloane Stephens. Their only previous match was in Brisbane at the start of the season and Williams won in straight sets. Stephens has had a very successful tournament but Williams would have to be injured for the new kid on the block to go through to the semis. Even on the set betting markets Serena is 1.19 to win 2-0. I’ll follow the scores and jump in if Sloane suddenly turns into Sharapova.
Update: I hope I didn’t jinx her! In the early part of the first set you would be forgiven for thinking that Williams wasn’t trying too hard to break. Then she seemed to decide it was time to break. She took the set and immediately broke Stephens in the second set.
Stephens broke back and as the set neared its end Williams was running to the net to reach a drop shot. She “put the brakes on” very quickly and screamed in pain as she jarred her back. She took an offcourt MTO and when she returned she was clearly affected by it. She wasn’t able to serve at full speed. That was enough for Stephens to break her and level the match. That continued into the deciding set and Stephens took her chance. eventually and having been broken first she fought back to take the match.
Stephens won 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.
Murray’s at 1.07 to beat Chardy. Chardy took out Del Potro and then Seppi. Both those opponents had poor matches but in substantial periods of both matches the Frenchman played amazing tennis. Can he find that form again against the winner of the most recent Grand Slam?
Chardy did beat Murray in their last meeting which was last year in Cincinnati. In fact Cincinnati is the only tournament where Chardy has taken sets from Murray. Their match there in 2010 went to 3 sets. As they aren’t in Cinci tonight I guess its straight sets for Murray 😉
1.07 is only a lay price though. This could be a long night.
Update: Excellent match from Murray. Chardy played well at times but the gulf in class was immense.
Murray won 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.
Three of the last four best of 3 matches that Federer and Tsonga played went the full 3 sets. However they have met twice in hard court Grand Slams and both times Federer won in straight sets.
Both men are playing well with Tsonga losing just 1 set in his 4th round match with Gasquet. Both Tomic and Raonic took Federer to a tie break so I feel that Tsonga has a great chance of taking at least a set.
Fed starts at 1.20 and I will be waiting for a healthier price to back him. Tsonga will no doubt have one of his trademark mental “tune-out” during the match and that makes it virtually impossible to beat Federer on a hard court over 5 sets.
Update: Federer broke in the very first game but the set went to a tie break which Fed took.. Tsonga won a serve domiated 2nd set with a single break.
In the third set Tsonga broke first but was immediately broken back. Federer took the set on another tie break.
Set 4 saw Federer broken twice and we were into a 5th set. A single break in the 4th game was enough to take Federer through to the semi final.
Federer won 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3.