The first Grand Slam of the season has reached the quarter-final stage but with the big guns still standing strong in both the men’s and women’s event, we are no nearer to knowing who will be crowned Australian Open champion.
Six of the top seven seeds make up the final eight in the men’s event – world number three Dominic Thiem is the only surprise omission – while the highest-ranked three players in the women’s game have also successfully navigated their path into the quarter-finals.
However, something has to give sooner rather than later and there are some heavyweight quarter-final clashes which should get the pulses racing.
World number one Novak Djokovic meets sixth seed Alexander Zverev, while super Spaniard Rafael Nadal locks horns with rising Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The headline quarter-final tie in the women’s showpiece sees a repeat of the 2019 Wimbledon final, with 23-time Grand Slam heroine Serena Williams squaring-up with world number two Simona Halep.
Djokovic and Zverev Can Serve up a Cracker
Djokovic remains on course for a third consecutive Australian Open title, but it has not been all plain-sailing and there could be more hairy moments against German youngster Alexander Zverev.
Djokovic has dropped sets in three of his four tournament wins, with him overcoming an epic five-set battle with Taylor Fritz and recording four-set triumphs over Frances Tiafoe and Milos Raonic.
And an even tougher test is in store against Zverev, who made last season’s US Open final and has overcome his last three Melbourne victims without dropping a set.
This could be another long slog for Djokovic and backing the contest to feature over 39.5 games at
4/5 looks the way to go.
Djokovic toppled Zverev 6-7 6-2 7-5 in an ATP Cup clash earlier this month and a five-set clash is a strong possibility between two top-class players.
Don’t Write Off Pegula Against Higher-Ranked Compatriot
American world number 61 Jessica Pegula has been one of the tournament’s success stories and her fairytale run may continue against compatriot Jennifer Brady.
Pegula stunned ultra-consistent fifth seed Elina Svitolina to secure her place in her first-ever Grand Slam quarter-final, having previously claimed the scalps of Viktoria Azarenka, Sam Stosur and Kristina Mladenovic.
And although Brady has yet to drop a set across her four Australian Open assignments, she has faced only one opponent ranked inside the world’s top 85 and has had things relatively easy.
However, a stiffer test lies in wait against Pegula, who won both of the pair’s previous meetings in 2020 in straight sets.
Take Pegula with +3.5 game headstart on the handicap at
The Barty Masterclass Can Continue
World number one Ashleigh Barty has reached the last eight of her home Major without dropping a set and another routine win could be on the cards against Karolina Muchova.
Barty took just 71 minutes to dispatch American Shelby Rogers 6-3 6-4 in the last round and, prior to that, she had eased to straight-set wins over Danka Kovinic, Daria Gavrilova and Ekaterina Alexandrova.
More is required against Elise Mertens’ conqueror Muchova but the Australian outclassed the Czech 6-3 6-4 in their only previous meeting and can repeat the trick in another straight-set success.
*All odds correct at time of writing