Saturday January 21st, 2012

Click here for the complete order of play for Day 7 at the Australian Open. Click here for the TV schedule.

Roger Federer vs. Bernard Tomic (first night match, Rod Laver Arena):  In our preview roundtable, one of my bold predictions was that Federer would lose before the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time since the 2004 French Open. I also predicted that Andy Murray and Maria Sharapova would crash out early, so really, what do I know? But there's a touch of destiny about Tomic's run this week, with the 19-year-old rallying to win two five-setters (against No. 22 Fernando Verdasco and No. 13 Alexandr Dolgopolov) to position himself to play his idol in his home country on Rod Laver Arena at night for a shot at the quarterfinals.

Tomic took a set off Federer on grass at the end of last year in their only career meeting, but that's a different ballgame. Given my current trend of being horribly wrong in my predictions, look for Federer to get through. But if Tomic's entertaining and variety-filled match against Dolgopolov on Friday was any indication, this duel between The Kid and the The Genius should be engaging.

Kim Clijsters vs. Li Na (third match, Rod Laver Arena): The WTA has bucked the trend of unpredictability, which has set up explosive matchups in the fourth round. And no fourth-rounder is as exciting as this rematch of last year's final. It's cruel that this clash is happening so early in the tournament, as both the 11th-seeded Clijsters and No. 5 Li are playing well enough to make it out of their half of the draw. Li comes into the match battle-tested, having defeated Petra Kvitova and Marion Bartoli in lead-up tournaments, whereas Clijsters hasn't faced any top 10 players this year. In fact, she hasn't beaten a top 10 player since last year's Australian Open. I like Li's chances here against the defending champion.

Caroline Wozniacki vs. Jelena Jankovic (second night match, Rod Laver Arena): How about we just have these two ladies pull up a chair, drink some tea and talk about the highs and lows of being Slam-less No. 1s? Oh, that's not an option? OK, let's play some tennis then. Wozniacki snapped her four-match losing streak to Jankovic last year and hasn't looked back, beating her three straight times in 2011. But Jankovic loves to play the spoiler and the big stage is often when she's at her best. The two have similar games, with Jankovic the better counterpuncher when she's playing well and Wozniacki a superior defender. Expect some long rallies if Jankovic brings her A game.

Juan Martin Del Potro vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber (fourth match, Margaret Court Arena): Del Potro is quietly making his way through the draw, getting better and better with each match. He's 4-0 against the German, including two tight victories on hardcourts last year. Kohlschreiber won't have an answer for Del Potro's firepower so he needs the big man to misfire to have a chance. If Del Potro doesn't, then this could be a hitting clinic. Rafael Nadal vs. Feliciano Lopez (second match, Rod Laver Arena): Lopez has never taken a set off the fellow Spaniard in four hard-court meetings, and the last time Nadal didn't make the quarterfinals of a hard-court major was the 2007 U.S. Open. So this should be no contest. But with Lopez's serve-and-volley game, it also could be fun to watch.

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