Murray takes on Kyrgios at night, Sharapova, Bouchard face off on RLA
MELBOURNE -- Here are the matches to watch on Day 9 of the Australian Open. Tuesday's quarterfinal play begins on all courts at 7pm ET on ESPN2. Click here for the order of play, and see the full TV schedule here.
No. 3 Simona Halep vs. No. 10 Ekaterina Makarova
The first quarterfinal up on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday features the two most under-the-radar women who happen to be demolishing the competition. Neither Halep or Makarova has lost a set in Melbourne -- they're the only two left in the final eight who haven't dropped a set -- and Halep heads into her second Australian Open quarterfinal on a 9-0 start to the season.
She leads the head-to-head 1-0 with a win over Makarova in New Haven in 2013. Though Halep is the hot hand, there's just something about Makarova in Melbourne (or any other city ending in "Bourne"). The Russian lefty is the only player to ever beat both Serena and Venus Williams at a major (at the Australian Open in 2012 and 2014), though she has has never been No. 1. A win on Tuesday and she'll be into her second consecutive Slam semifinal.
No. 2 Maria Sharapova vs. No. 7 Eugenie Bouchard
The second match on Rod Laver Arena is also the most high profile of all four women's quarterfinals. Is this the year that Bouchard finally solves Sharapova? She is 0-3 against the Russian but the two haven't played on hard court since 2013, where Sharapova won 6-2, 6-0.
But Bouchard comes into the match with a world of confidence. In their only meeting of 2014, Bouchard pushed Sharapova in the semifinals of the French Open before losing 4-6, 7-5, 6-2. That she was able to do that on Sharapova's best surface has to make her believe she can do it here on a quicker hard court, which should feed into her game. Look for Bouchard to try to beat Sharapova to the punch and be the early aggressor in points. If she can have a good serving day, Sharapova's in big trouble.
One interesting note looking ahead to the possible semifinals: Sharapova is a combined 10-0 against Halep and Makarova, while Bouchard is 1-4 (0-2 vs. Makarova).
No. 3 Rafael Nadal vs. No. 7 Tomas Berdych
Does Berdych have a chance here? He's been playing lights out tennis through four rounds and hasn't lost a set. But he's also riding a 17-match losing streak to Nadal. Berdych hasn't beaten the Spaniard in nine years. That win came at the Madrid Open in 2006, when Berdych famously shushed the Spanish crowd after scoring the win, something Nadal took great issue with after the match. Berdych has won just three sets off Nadal ever since. If Nadal gets his 18th straight win over Berdych on Tuesday it would be the longest head-to-head winning streak in Open Era history.
Nadal has won their three Slam meetings, most recently a four-set win at the 2012 Australian Open. More bad news for Berdych: Nadal is coming off his best performance of the tournament, a 7-5, 6-1, 6-4 win over No. 14 Kevin Anderson. Nadal and Berdych will be the third match on Rod Laver Arena.
"Doesn't matter what happened in the past. Is different story this time. Different moment for me; different moment for him," Nadal said after his match on Sunday. "I have success against him, but I have the chances to lose against him. I remember 2012 probably I had a very, very tough match against him here. It was close to be two sets to love down. He's a player that is top level."
No. 6 Andy Murray vs. Nick Kyrgios
How much will Murray relish a stadium full of Australians cheering against him as he takes on a 19-year-old upstart? A lot. Murray will try to pick apart Kyrgios' flashy game on the big stage and, in his own way, put Kyrgios in his place.
"I think it obviously will change the atmosphere. Obviously the crowd will be right behind him. Understandably so. They're going to watch him play a lot of matches like this over the next 10, 15 years probably," Murray said after his match on Sunday. "That's just something that I'll have to deal with in my way. I've played a lot of matches. I've played in French Open against French players where the crowd can be very difficult. I've experienced it before, so hopefully I'll deal with it well."
In their only head-to-head meeting, Murray beat Kyrgios 6-2, 6-2 in Toronto last year. Murray hasn't lost to a player ranked as low as Kyrgios since the 2005 U.S. Open when he lost to No. 91 Arnaud Clement.
To pull off the upset, Kyrgios will need a spectacular serving day and a sustained and focused effort. That consistent focus and concentration has been alittle bit difficult for Kyrgios, but he has survived his many lapses so far. He is coming off an emotional five-set comeback win against Andreas Seppi on Sunday night, while Murray has been in very good form through the first week, losing just one set and coming through an incredibly physical three-and-a-half hour win over No. 10 Grigor Dimitrov.