Roger Federer takes on his countryman Stanislas Wawrinka in what might be the most “attractive” quarterfinal in the mens 2011 Australian Open. Wawrinka has been very impressive up to this point and in a world where everything is relative, he is the one that has “improved” the most during the first four rounds. The one handed topspin backhand is simply the most effective and beautiful shot “left” in the tournament. It’s easily the best single handed backhand we have ever seen. Still he looks to “run around” his backhand and use his forehand whenever he can without giving up a “neutral’ court position. This “shrinks” his side of the court down to a pretty narrow area to hit into. If anyone can widen it though, it’s Roger Federer who is playing at a level that could prove to be a little bit higher than the others left in the tournament. What we know is that Federer saves his very best ’til he really needs it. He just might need it against his fellow countryman and look for Federer to really mix it up in todays match. I’m expecting him to keep the points short and also “move” Wawrinka around as Stanislas movement is still a weakness. Allthough if Wawrinka has a good “serving day” this match could go the distance!
The night match features big hitting Tomas Berdych and “spiderman” Novak Djokovic. You never know what kind of effect Berdychs game is going to have on the best players in the world, sometimes it makes you wonder why he hasn’t won multiple majors already. I do expect Djokovic to “absorb” the power and send it back with interest. Novaks mobility around the court is second to none and it’s based on flexibility. Of course you also need a fair amount of “muscle” strength and anticipation, but boys and girls out there trying to become as good a player as you can, spend more time stretching than you think is necessary. This match could turn out to look like two kids playing a video game with clean, “flat” ground strokes close to the lines and with Novak Djokovic winning eventually. It should be two fascinating quarterfinals and I’ll be there watching from the first point to the last.
Out of the four womens quarterfinals the one that stands out is the one between world # 1, Caroline Wozniacki and Francesca Schiavone. The “princess” from Denmark is the favorite, we are all hoping Schiavone has something left in the tank after her record breaking victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova. That match was overall the best, most entertaining womens tennis match I have ever seen. Both Schiavone and Kuznetsova gave more of themselves than I think neither of them thought was possible. We in the audience certainly thought they did. Wozniacki brings a “match toughness” though that will most probably make the difference in her match against the “fiery” italian. Caroline is not number 1 in the world for nothing, she is consistent of both sides and she doesn’t ever go away. As much as the womens game needs players like Francesca Schiavone, it’s a very complicated way to play tennis for a woman as movement is the most important ingredient. The other quarterfinal today is between Andrea Petkovic of Germany and Na Li of China. Na Li reached the semis here last year and has a really good chance to do it again, but then Petkovic is a “newcomer” at this level and anyone that is not intimidated by Maria Sharapova, who Petkovic beat easily in the previous round, is dangerous. It should be a great day for a tennis fan.
Enjoy, all the best , Mats Wilander.