Australian Open Day 8: Murray takes on Tomic; Azarenka, Keys in action
Here are the matches to watch on Monday on Day 8 of the 2016 Australian Open in Melbourne. Play begins on all courts at 7 p.m. ET. Click here for the full order of play, and see the full TV schedule here.
The bottom half of the men’s and women’s draws will play for the final spots in the quarterfinals on Monday, headlined by an intriguing matchup between Australian Bernard Tomic and No. 2-seed Andy Murray on Rod Laver at night.
Murray is coming off a 6–2, 3–6, 6–2, 6–2 win over Joao Sousa and Tomic defeated fellow countryman John Millman 6–4, 7–6, 6–2 to earn a spot in the fourth round.
“Playing Andy now is amazing opportunity,” Tomic said. “One of the best players in the world. Have to go out there with nothing to lose and play the right tennis like I've been playing in the last month….Played him so many times in the past, I think two or three, and I'm down 2-Love or 3-Love. I have to find a way to maybe turn it around.”
Murray owns their head-to-head, including a three-set win over Tomic in a Davis Cup tie in September.
Wawrinka and Raonic face off on Rod Laver
No. 4-seed Stan Wawrinka was battling a sore throat on Saturday but still won in straight sets over Lukas Rosol to set up a fourth round meeting against No. 13-seed Milos Raonic (not before 10 p.m. ET, Rod Laver). The win marked Wawrinka’s 400th career victory and the Swiss also leads the head-to-head against Raonic, who is still undefeated on the season after capturing the title in Brisbane prior to the Australian Open. The last time the pair met was in the semifinals in Rotterdam in 2015, where Wawrinka won 7–6(3), 7–6(7).
Isner won’t miss Panthers game before clash with Ferrer
John Isner’s beloved Carolina Panthers play in the NFL divisional championship on Sunday in Charlotte, S.C., and the American was concerned with the timing of his fourth round match before the schedule was released.
"Maybe go to the tournament desk and ask for a late start. I'm serious actually (laughter). We'll see if I can get that done,” he said after his match on Saturday. Luckily, he'll face off against No. 8-seed David Ferrer, who took down American Steve Johnson 6–1, 6–4, 6–4 in the third round, at 6:30 p.m. local time in Melbourne on Monday (not before 2:30 a.m. ET), giving him enough time to watch the NFL playoff game before he has to take the court.
No. 10-seed Isner has blasted 101 aces through three matches in Melbourne to power him through to the fourth round at the Australian Open for the first time since 2010. Isner’s only win against Ferrer came at the Paris Masters in 2011—Ferrer is 6–1 against the American since their first meeting in 2007—and their most recent match was also in Paris, last year, where Ferrer prevailed 6–3, 6–7(6), 6–2.
“I've got to play aggressive,” Isner after his 6–7(8), 7–6(5), 6–2, 6–4 win over Feliciano Lopez on Saturday. “He’s going to want to get on top of that baseline and move me around all day. He's not going to get tired. We all know that. I've got to go for my shots and try to keep the points shorter. Can't be having long, drawn-out rallies with him. I'm definitely not going to win the majority of those.”
Kerber kicks off play on RLA
Two top women’s seeds will start the day on Rod Laver on Monday. An in-form Angelique Kerber, who reached the final in Brisbane to start the season, will face fellow German Annika Beck, who is into the Round of 16 at a Grand Slam for the first time in her career. No. 7-seed Kerber is looking making her maiden Australian Open quarterfinal against the 21-year-old. .
In the second match on Rod Laver No. 14-seed Victoria Azarenka, who has dropped just five games through three matches in Melbourne, will face her next test against Barbora Strycova, who she has beaten in their previous four matches.
“She's a very tricky opponent, and obviously beating a top player like Muguruza shows she is capable of handling herself on the big stages,” Azarenka said of her Czech opponent after beating 18-year-old Naomi Osaka in the third round. “I have played her and it's never easy. You never know what's going to come. I would like to approach that match the same way as I did my other matches: focus on myself and try to give the best on every point, because I think that's what creates a good approach for me mentally, physically, and I enjoy it more.”
Konta on her way to making history
Johanna Konta is one win away from making British history after a 6–2, 6–2 win over Denisa Allertova on Saturday. The 25-year-old is the first British woman to reach the fourth round since Jo Durie and Anne Hobbs in 1987 and plays Ekaterina Makarova on Monday (fourth match, Margaret Court Arena). With the win, Konta will be the first British woman to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam in 33 years.
Konta and Makarova have only played each other once in their careers: last year in Eastbourne on grass, where Konta won in straight sets as a wildcard.
Earlier on Margaret Court, flashy Frenchman Gael Monfils looks to continue his strong form against Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov (second match, Margaret Court Arena). Monfils leads their head-to-head 2–0, with their most recent match coming at the Monte Carlo Masters last year.
Keys meets Zhang for a spot in the quarters
No. 15-seed Madison Keys will have to bounce back from an intense match vs. Ana Ivanovic on Saturday, where the American outlasted Ivanovic and a scare to win in three sets. One key to her match against Chinese qualifier Shuai Zhang will be fresh legs. Through three rounds, Zhang’s matches have all been two sets, but she also played through the qualifying rounds to earn a spot in the main draw. On the other hand, two of Keys’ first three matches have been tough three setters. Before her shocking upset over No. 2-seed Simona Halep in the first round, Zhang was 0-14 in Grand Slam matches. Keys and Zhang’s head-to-head matchup is locked at 2-2 (including a Challenger match in 2011), with their last meeting coming in 2014 in Acapulco, where Zhang prevailed 4–6, 6–1, 6–4.
“Before the match I think this is in my life maybe last match. I'm try to make me do my best in the match. I want to try my best. I want to show the best of Zhang Shuai,” she said after her strong 6–1, 6–3 win over Varvara Lepchenko. “No more nervous for me because I already play six match in this court this tournament. I'm enjoy the tournament right now.”