Your resident author at AllThingsTennis Towers is only now getting back to normal after playing host since Tuesday to a nice flu/tonsillitis concoction, a negative PCR test along the way was some relief at least.
I couldn’t watch much, but there have been some excellent contests in that time down in Melbourne, but now what will the 2nd week bring? It’s the fourth round already and we have some thrilling fixtures coming up from tonight/tomorrow.
Round 4: ATT’s infamously poor predictions [WINNERS IN CAP]
Kecmanovic vs MONFILS
I confess I know very little about Miomir Kecmanovic, but anyone who makes it this far will be more than capable, not least that this Serb emerges from the Djokovic-shaped hole in the draw, so some added spice maybe? But in this revitalised and at times sparkling Gael Monfils his run stops here.
Carreno-Busta vs BERRETTINI
Tough to call this one. Both players have been through several marathon matches this past week. On the one hand, Berrettini’s victims have included the lethal Alcaraz, but Carreno-Busta has downed both Sebastian Korda and Tallon Griekspoor who was on an insane winning streak. Berrettini to scrape through what will surely be another titanic tussle.
ZVEREV vs Shapovalov
The Canadian is another to have had a gruelling time of it to get here, but he will find no remorse from Zverev who – if he keeps focused and aggressive – is looking good for a final berth here.
Mannarino vs NADAL
Adrian Mannarino has scalped a few big names so far, but shouldn’t trouble our Rafa who could in all likelihood take this title at a canter. Age means nothing for the Big 3 and Nadal may well be the most headstrong and determined of them all.
BARTY vs Anisimova
Not much to say is there? Anisimova’s story is so heart-warming, and she played brilliantly to oust defending champ Osaka in one of the matches of the tournament. But Ash Barty looks able to beat all and sundry right now.
Pegula vs SAKKARI
As good as Jess Pegula has been, Sakkari is another slowly finding her game when it matters. May well go the distance, but the Greek should have enough.
Krejcikova vs AZARENKA
I’m going for another on-paper-surprise result here, Vika is a former winner here yes, but that was a generation or two ago. Still, she has pummelled all comers and should have the enduring quality to see of the steady but stoic 2021 French Open champ.
Keys vs BADOSA
Hmm not really sure here. I know so little still of the Spaniard, but her Indian Wells title is a big deal, and she has been getting on with things here. Keys? well the very epitome of all or nothing. Either way, should be a belter of a match.
DE MINAUR vs Sinner
The home hero has been getting better and better with every match here and even more importantly, he is looking relaxed. Sinner has had some tough contests as well, but may buckle just enough under the local support. Should be a good’un.
Fritz vs TSITSIPAS
Speaking of good matches! Tsitsipas’ pedigree is of course established, and after his final showing in Paris he has only looked more assured on the whole. Now could well be his time. But he faces Taylor Fritz at possibly the worst time. The American who was beginning to threaten a career akin to Donald Young, is gradually piecing things together and will go in fearless.
CILIC vs Auger-Aliassime
Nadal aside, we are still seeing other flashes of the old guard still. 2018 finalist Cilic is looking dialled in Down Under, not least in his 4 set victory over Rublev last time out. Of course, the Croat is never too far away from going completely AWOL at any point. But as good as Felix Auger-Aliassime undoubtedly is, I do fancy 2014 champ Cilic to spring another shock.
MEDVEDEV vs Cressy
Alas poor Maxime will likely bow out here against the man who just about remains favourite to win [although that will change the longer Rafa remains involved]. My tip? Just watch this match and only this one. Vive Serve and Volley!!!
Collins vs MERTENS
Both have gone about their business against unremarkable opposition. Elise Mertens is the more seasoned at latter stages of majors, and that, coupled with a more adaptable and varied game should see her through. Dani Collins is never a pushover though, and will always provide grit which is good to see.
HALEP vs Cornet
One of the surprises of the tournament for me at least, and a welcome one. Alize Cornet is playing with some carefree joy, and it is great to see. But as a Halep fan, I do hope that things stop here. I’ve called it for Simona but it could be tight, again one to watch for sure.
SWIATEK vs Cirstea
Wow, another sublime fixture, and I’m saying Swiatek with little confidence. Cirstea – as her victim roster just this week shows [Kvitova and Pavluychenkova] – is always dangerous and won’t fear the Roland Garros winner. But Iga is showing signs again of that 2020 form.
SABALENKA vs Kanepi
As with Madison Keys, I find this tough to say with certainty, such is Kaia Kanepi’s hot and cold nature. Clearly, the Estonian seed-killer is on song so far, but this can evaporate without warning. And in her opponent we have another big unknown. For so long Sabalenka underachieved at the slams, but the consistency has vastly improved and look, Aryna is the no.2 seed for a reason.