By Yeshayahu Ginsburg
We are down to our final 8, and 6 of them are the main contenders for the title. With Djokovic being tired after his marathon match, it has really opened the door for Tomas Berdych. And, all of a sudden, we could be looking at Berdych or David Ferrer in the final. On the other side of the draw, it looks like it will be the winner of Federer/Tsonga against Andy Murray. This feels like the most wide-open Slam we’ve had in quite a while on the men’s side. It actually feels like there are six contenders with near-equal chances of winning it all. The only possible not-compelling matchup in the final is Federer/Ferrer, as Federer leads their head-to-head series 14-0.
Who Looked Good
Stanislas Wawrinka: I will talk about this match more in depth later on, but I really must stress that Wawrinka played at or near the level of a Grand Slam champion for almost the entirety of his match. Aside from a blip in the second set, Wawrinka was really playing at an incredible level throughout and showed signs of mental toughness that we don’t often see from him. Even though he lost in heartbreaking fashion, Wawrinka should be encouraged. If he can play at this level for an entire tournament there really is no reason (aside from a massive mental block against Federer) that he can’t be competitive in the later rounds of Slams as his career continues.
Tomas Berdych: Berdych didn’t do anything special in his fourth-round match. In fact, he didn’t do anything more than what we’ve seen him do before. What he did do, though, was execute on a high level for the entire match. His movement was superb, putting him in position to hit all of his shots with lethal efficiency. Anderson is a tricky opponent with a massive serve, and for much of the match Berdych just dismantled him from the baseline. If he can keep that consistency up when he meets a tired Djokovic in the quarters, then he should make his first Australian Open semifinal without too much trouble.
Who Looked Bad
Andreas Seppi: Honestly, Seppi didn’t play that poorly. He could have played much better but he didn’t really compete below expectations, especially with how fatigued he was. I just couldn’t really leave this spot blank. Seppi is better on clay courts and was up against a big hitter in Jeremy Chardy. Seppi missed a lot of shots and could have extended a lot of rallies, but he would have been very hard-pressed to win this match anyway. Still, compared to everyone else who played this round, Seppi really underachieved the most.
Match of the Round
Is there really any other choice? Forget match of the round, this was probably the match of the tournament. I am, of course, talking about the epic battle between Novak Djokovic and Stanislas Wawrinka. Djokovic played a very good match but not quite at his peak level, while Stan actually played the match of this life. It is not possible to understate how good of a match Wawrinka played. He fought and played incredible points, pulling out ways to win them that most people just can’t do against Djokovic. The match was right throughout and the crowd thoroughly enjoyed this epic five-hour thriller. An unfortunate mistaken line call at 4-4 in the fifth cost Wawrinka a chance to serve out the match, and Djokovic capitalized over an hour later to win it 12-10 in the fifth. Most fans, watching both in the crowd and on television, felt gutted for Wawrinka, who had fought so hard and was so close to pulling off the biggest win of his career. The fact that a mistaken call might have changed the outcome in no way detracts from the epicness of this match. Saying that this match wasn’t fair or that Wawrinka got robbed is just as much an insult to the effort that Warinka put forth as it is to Djokovic’s.