Novak Djokovic will have to show his powers of recovery when he takes on Tomas Berdych as the quarterfinals get underway on day nine of the Australian Open.
The two-time defending champion survived a five-hour marathon against Stanislas Wawrinka on Sunday. For the vast majority of the players on the tour it would be a daunting prospect to have to play a grand slam quarterfinal just 48 hours later, but Djokovic is an all-together different animal.
The Serbian world No. 1 performed arguably the greatest physical feat witnessed in tennis at the Australian Open last year when, after a near-five-hour slug fest with Andy Murray in the semifinals, he outlasted Rafael Nadal in an epic close to six-hour final.
If, as expected, Djokovic’s physical condition is not in question then Berdych will have his work cut out. The Czech fifth seed has an 11-1 losing record against Djokovic and will be a significant underdog. On the plus side for the former Wimbledon finalist, Berdych should be in confident mood having yet to drop a set en route to the last eight. But Djokovic has the defensive prowess to contain Berdych’s power hitting and put the 27-year-old on the back foot.
The other men’s quarterfinal on Tuesday features a clash between two players who have shared a similarly one-sided head-to-head record. Incredibly David Ferrer has won all 12 of his encounters with fellow- Spaniard Nicolas Almagro.
Despite getting a break when his fourth-round opponent Janko Tipsarevic retired in the second set, there is little to suggest that Almagro can begin to reverse his record against fourth-seed Ferrer.
On the women’s side, there is a mouth-watering contest to look forward to between sixth seed Li Na and the fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska. Both players have reached the quarterfinal without dropping a set and will consider themselves contenders to take home the title.
Radwanska will have the memory of a victory over Li in Sydney earlier this month as part of her unbeaten start to 2013. But Li, too, has reason to be confident as she won all three hard-court meetings between the pair last year as part of her overall 5-4 record against Radwanska.
Much will depend on Li’s ability to find her range with her power hitting from the baseline, while Radwanska will try to disrupt her opponent’s rhythm with her ability to mix things up and manipulate the ball.
The match could be a standout of the women’s event and go down to the wire.
The other of the day’s women’s quarterfinals sees a rematch from the same stage of last year’s tournament as Maria Sharapova squares off with fellow-Russian Ekaterina Makarova.
Sharapova triumphed 12 months ago as she has done in all four of the pair’s meetings. While Makarova has recorded some impressive results at this year’s event, beating both Angelique Kerber and Marion Bartoli, second seed Sharpova should just be too strong from the back of the court.
Where to watch: Day nine’s play at the Australian Open begins at 7 p.m. ET on Monday. Coverage gets underway on the Tennis Channel before switching to ESPN2 at 9 p.m. A live stream of multiple courts will be available throughout the day’s action on ESPN3.
To contact the editor, e-mail: