We have gone past the fourth round and the QF ties are all set up, the best in the world are all ready to clash in the final stages in the Australian Outback. Playing in the hot sun and tough condition the tournament has tested all the players both physically and mentally to make sure only the best survive at this stage. The fourth round of the Australian Open was filled with drama, class, some upsets and ofcourse some high intensity tennis. Lets have a look at some of the events that shook the Melbourne Park and also the display of some high quality tennis that put the tennis fans in awe.
The fourth round proceedings started with World No.2 and the second seed Spaniard Rafael Nadal going head to head against his compatriot and a very good friend Feliciano Lopez in straight sets 6-4 6-4 6-2. 18th seed Lopez was showing signs of tiredness after his five set victory over John Isner in his third round encounter, Lopez had over 50 unforced errors and gave in six free points as double faults. Nadal on the other hand was clinical, Nadal having an incredible 80% first serve percentage and won 81% of his first serve, Nadal was pretty good on returns as he won 50% of the returning point. However the match still went on for more than two and half hours as both of them know each other so well. Nadal’s QF opponent is the seventh seed Tomas Berdych and will look to better his performance and perhaps win the second Australian Open. Berdych, who went through a three set of tie breakers to win against Nicolas Almagro the tenth seed in the fourth round which had some controversy and booing to spice it up. Check out “the controversial shot” in this video.
But in the end it all paid up well fro Berdych as he won a tough fought match which lasted for four hours in four sets 4-6 7-6(5) 7-6(3) 7-6(2). Next to qualify was the six foot five Argentain Juan Martin Del Potro. Del Potro defeated Germany’s Phillip Kohlschreiber in straight sets 6-4 6-2 6-1 and the two hours wrapped up the match. The big serving Argentain was on his game and made things look easy as he won 80% on his first serve and his serving could allow Kohlschreiber to win only 29% of the returning points. World No. 3 Roger Federer was next to qualify for the QF as he defeated the young Australian Bernard Tomic. The match was made the highlight by the Australian and the world media terming the encounter as The King v/s The Kid. Truly the King was too much for the kid as Tomic’s Bandwagon hit the speedbump. Fearless Federer cracked in 13 aces in the match and went on postive even though there were a few double faults to his name. Federer’s brilliant return games was what set the two competitors apart. Not to take anything away from Tomic who played the way he does but too many long matches on his route to the fourth round and the fact that he was facing his boyhood hero perhaps too much for him.
On the next day four more qulified for the QF ties. World No.1 Novak Djokovic managed to put off the comeback former World No.1 Lleyton Hewitt tried by seeing him off in four sets. Hewitt found his form in Oz Open ’12 but the Djoker was anyway too hot to handle. Djokovic emerging winners in four sets with the score 6-1 6-3 4-6 6-3. Both the players committed almost the same number of unforced error but 13 aces and lesser number of double faults made the Defending Champion victorious. No. 5 seed David Ferrer dispatched the one of the two Frenchman left in the draw, Richard Gasquet in stragiht sets. David Ferrer who defeated then World No.1 Rafael Nadal in the last edition of the Australian Open in QF stage now faces the current World No.1 Novak Djokovic. Andy Murray had a fairly “easy and boring” as he termed it, day in office when his barely moving opponent from Kazakistan Mikhail Kukushkin retired from the match in the third set, Murray was comfortably ahead even though he was broken twice in the match and won the match 6-1 6-1 1-0(Ret). Murray now faces the first Japanese since 1932 to reach QF of Australian Open, Kei Nishikori. Nishikori seeded 24 defeated sixth seed Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a stunning five set encounter. Nishikori played really well as he kept the ball in the game no matter what Tsonga threw at him. Nishikori tried to get the ball to Tsonga’s backhand and the plan worked, even though Tsonga fought hard. Both the players were neck to neck but Tsonga committed 70 unforced errors compared to just 30 by Nishikori. In a three and a half hour see-saw match on a hot day Nishikori held his nerves to emerge victorious as Tsonga could not find answers to the Samurai’s relentless hitting. It was an upset because Tsonga was the favourite to win the match, however Nishikori truly deserve to win the match.
My predictions for the players reaching Semi Finals are: Novak Djokovic(but unsure about Ferrer), Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Murray (because Nishikori will be too tired)
Coming to the ladies. There was a big upset in the fourth round of the Women’s singles draw as Ekaterina Makarova defeated the 12th seed and the favourite Serena Williams. Williams struggled with her best weapon, the serve, as the Russian continued her fairy tale after she had defeated Vera Zvonareva in the third round match. Makarova will face 2008 Champion Maria Sharapova for a place in the semi finals. Talking about Fairy Tales the ankle injury that Kim Clijsters suffered in the fourth round match against Na Li has proved lucky as she defeated World No.1 and the No.1 seed Caroline Wozniacki the QF match as I write this post. No.3 seed Victoria Azarenka too booked her place in the Semi Finals after she defeated Agnieszka Radwanska after coming from a set down.
Some Results from Men’s Tennis are here
Singles – Fourth Round
 N Djokovic (SRB) d L Hewitt (AUS) 61 36 64 63
 A Murray d M Kukushkin 61 61 10 ret. (left hip flexor)
 D Ferrer (ESP) d  R Gasquet (FRA) 64 64 61
 K Nishikori d  J Tsonga 26 62 61 36 63
Doubles – Third Round
 S Gonzalez / C Kas d  J Melzer / P Petzschner 76(1) 75
 M Fyrstenberg / M Matkowski d  F Cermak / F Polasek 64 63
 R Lindstedt / H Tecau d R Mello / J Souza 64 63
 E Butorac / B Soares d A Qureshi / J Rojer 64 62
Singles – Fourth Round
 R Nadal (ESP) d  F Lopez (ESP) 64 64 62
 R Federer (SUI) d B Tomic (AUS) 64 62 62
 T Berdych [CZE] d  N Almagro 46 76(5) 76(3) 76(2)
 J del Potro [ARG] d P Kohlschreiber 64 62 61
Doubles – Third Round
 B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) d  C Fleming (GBR) / R Hutchins (GBR) 64 06 62
 M Mirnyi (BLR) / D Nestor (CAN) d D Bracciali (ITA) / P Starace (ITA) 76(7) 62
L Paes (IND) / R Stepanek [CZE) d  M Llodra (FRA) / N Zimonjic 75 76(2)
 S Lipsky (USA) / R Ram (USA) d  M Bhupathi (IND) / R Bopanna (IND) 76(6) 62