Australian Open Day 10 previews and picks: Djokovic vs. Raonic and Wawrinka vs. Nishikori

Ricky Dimon of the Grandstand and Steen Kirby of Tennis Atlantic preview and pick the two men’s singles matches on Wednesday at the Australian Open. The seeds held to form in the top half of the draw, with Novak Djokovic now battling Milos Raonic and Stan Wawrinka facing Kei Nishikori.

(1) Novak Djokovic vs. (8) Milos Raonic

Ricky: The good news for Raonic is that he is straight up playing the best tennis of his life. He finished runner-up at the Paris Masters last fall, did the same earlier this season in Brisbane, and he is now through to the Australian Open quarterfinals for the first time in his career–and into a slam quarterfinal for the third time. Unfortunately for the Canadian, he represents a classic case of winning matches he should win and losing matches he should lose. Raonic is 1-20 lifetime against the current top four players in the world, including 0-9 and 2-20 against the two best baseliners (Djokovic and Rafael Nadal). Djokovic is 4-0 versus Raonic and 10-1 sets, with the only such loss coming in a tiebreaker and three such wins by 6-2 margins. The world No. 1 was outstanding against another big server (Gilles Muller) on Monday, recording 47 winners to just 16 unforced errors. Djokovic 7-6(4), 6-3, 7-6(6).

Steen: Both guys have been in great form leading up to this quarterfinal matchup. Djokovic hasn’t dropped a set and he’s had to play only one tiebreaker all tournament. Raonic, meanwhile, crushed all opposition through the first week then survived an up-and-down performance to beat Feliciano Lopez in five sets. I’m bullish on Raonic’s chances here, in that I see him taking a set. That being said, all of his breaks against Lopez (three in total) came on double-faults by the Spaniard and Raonic was more inconsistent than he had been in previous rounds. Djokovic just dealt with a “poor man’s Raonic” in Muller, avoiding tiebreakers against the in-form Luxembourgian. That performance bodes well for the Serb against the player who is the best of the big servers on tour right now. Raonic has improved his fitness so he should be able to hang in there in that department, but I don’t see Raonic generating enough break-point chances to get it done here. Djokovic 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6.

(4) Stan Wawrinka vs. (5) Kei Nishikori

Ricky: This has all the makings of a classic. Separated by one spot in the rankings, both men are in awesome form. Wawrinka kicked off his season with a title in Chennai, just as he did last year before winning the Australian Open. Nishikori, a semifinalist in Brisbane (lost a high-quality thriller to Raonic) has won six consecutive sets this fortnight by margins of 6-1, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3, and 6-3. Perhaps just as happy as Wawrinka at the Happy Slam, this is by far Nishikori’s most consistent major (has reached at least the third round in five straight appearances). Moreover, their most recent head-to-head showdown also came in a slam quarterfinal and it resulted in one of 2014’s best matches. Nishikori prevailed 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(7), 6-7(5), 6-4 on his way to the U.S. Open title match. Something will have to give on Wednesday, and it’s hard to say what that will be. I will give an ever-so-slight edge to the Swiss based on his experience with Australian Open five-set marathons. Wawrinka 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-6(3), 4-6, 9-7.

Steen: I was surprised to see that Nishikori is the favorite according to the oddsmakers going into this one. Yes, he beat Wawrinka at the U.S. Open but it was a competitive, five-set battle that was a coin-flip throughout. Wawrinka is the defending AO champion and he’s played quite well so far, albeit with some lapses against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez from two sets up. He disappointingly dropped the third set and gave GGL set-point chances to force a fifth set, as well, but the Swiss woke up in time and got himself through in four. Nishikori, meanwhile, walloped a tired David Ferrer in a match that should have been more competitive and he’s played like a top 5 player this fortnight. This could go either way, but I like the vibe Wawrinka has given off all tournament. A key for him, though, will be avoiding mental walkabouts in the middle of the match that he cannot afford if he’s going to win this. I feel like he’ll produce a better gameplan and more effective attack than Nishikori. Wawrinka 7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

58 Comments on Australian Open Day 10 previews and picks: Djokovic vs. Raonic and Wawrinka vs. Nishikori

  1. Sorry nadline, Raonic can’t win against Nole given how Nole is playing at the moment, and Nole’s slam experience. I don’t look up odds or bet but this would be a sure bet. I expect the oddmakers won’t give you much for your stake.

  2. I’m not that impressed with Nole atm, though. He struggled to beat Muller. But Raonic and N ole are friends, so who knows how hungry Raonic is.

      • Regarding Ricky’s vine, not funny at all (for obvious reasons!) but watching Rafa’s second serve and his failure to deal with Berdych’s second serve last night was mortifying.

        Uncle Toni said Rafa had problems with his BH but the fact is Rafa had problems with every part of his game last night. BH, FH, serve, movement, shot selection, power, all were not there. He made how many DFs, 6? To Berdych’s zero? It’s the big servers like Berdych who should have more DFs for goodness’ sakes!

        Let’s not forget, Berdych’s winning point was a second serve which was dumped in the net by Rafa. A second serve. This is one aspect that has always been bad about Rafa’s game even when he is at full throttle: his lacklusture handling of opponents’ second serves. For me Muzza and Fed handle opponents’ second serves best.

        I think it’s just a confidence thing with Rafa this is why the South American swing is critical for him. Some people were saying Berdych destroyed Rafa mentally last night, I beg to differ. If Rafa had been destroyed mentally he would not have mounted a spirited defence in the 3rd set, he would simply have faded.

        Uncle Toni’s assessment, posted on the other thread by Gussie, is spot on. Berdych has always been a strong opponent for Rafa but whereas he crumbled mentally in the past after falling behind, this time he did not because Rafa gave him confidence by playing so badly in the first 2 sets.

        I’ve said it before and I will say it again: Rafa needs to work on his serve, and his second serve returning position.

      • That indeed is quite funny! 😀 Rafa’s second serve was certainly a liability yesterday. I cant fathom where that USO 2010 serve disappeared.

  3. I think it’s going to be Novak in three sets. Raonic isn’t going to give him that much trouble.

    The real excitement will be Stan/Kei. I am going back and forth on this one. It really could go either way, but I will go with Kei to get the win in four or five sets.

  4. I am surprised to see Stan dominating Kei in this match. He certainly brought the firepower to this match. He’s turned it up a notch.

  5. Oh dear, so who do I root for if it is Novak vs Wawa??

    Looks like I might have to hold my nose and root for…………Djokovic!

      • I prefer Stan winning it to Djoker. Djoker’s fans on TW are simply insufferable. They have surpassed Fedfans on hating Rafa.

      • ” Djoker’s fans on TW are simply insufferable. They have surpassed Fedfans on hating Rafa.”

        So true @nadline10! I thought I was the only one who had noticed this.

  6. Wawa seems to have learnt from the mistake he committed in the USO match. He allowed Nishikori to attack thinking that he will commit more errors in the process. Kei didn’t miss and Stan ended up losing.
    Stan rectified it and is taking up the attack to Kei!

  7. Yet again a highly anticipated duel didn’t materialise. Seems like quite a few of us underestimated the WaWa: or overestimated Kei.

  8. ^^ I had a hunch Stan would come through but was convinced Kei would make it tough for him. Wasn’t expecting such a lopsided match or I wouldn’t have bothered to get out of bed for it.

  9. I picked Raonic to win out of wishful thinking. The match is all but over. Now I’m just enjoying watching Djokovic unable to return Raonic’s serve. Raonic’s game is still all serve IMO.

  10. I never doubted Nole’s win over Milos…Milos with his weaknesses will never be able to beat likes of Nole, Murray, Fed…those that can return well and attack his poor backhand…
    he has improved but not enough to beat these fellows…

    Wawa wining over Kei is not a surprise because it could have gone either way, but obviously Kei ran out of gas and Wawa was on fire. However Kei could have capitalized on the break he had in the third but failed to do so…but from what I see Kei will be the force during the American swing…he simply has the game for it…

    Wawa vs Nole…sorry to disappoint believers here but I just don’t see Wawa beating this Novak who is playing well and since this is the AO surface that he loves as he can freely slide on it (unbelievable from Novak to do it so easily!) he does not even need to bring his A+ game for this Wawa…However, I have been wrong in my predictions and I hope I am being wrong about this one and I would love Wawa to bring his A game and make it a blockbuster…otherwise, Nole will just roll over in the finals as Serena will…

    Berdy vs Murray…Berdy is playing I think his best tennis but it’s Andy we are talking about here…he is in the semis and I just don’t see him being fooled by Berdy as Rafa was…Andy will RETURN Berdy’s first serve unlike Rafa…Andy will RUN for those shots which were not as deep as someone would think (I watched the replay of Rafa’s match…Berdych really did nothing special!) and most importantly Andy will serve big unlike vulnerable serve and numerous DFs of our dear Rafa…so it makes it pretty obvious that Murray is not at all vulnerable as Rafa was (and Rafa still was able to make the third set somewhat competitive)…

  11. natashao2013 says:
    January 28, 2015 at 11:56 am
    I never doubted Nole’s win over Milos…Milos with his weaknesses will never be able to beat likes of Nole, Murray, Fed…those that can return well and attack his poor backhand…
    he has improved but not enough to beat these fellows…

    Yet it’s Rafa who has a 5:0 lead over Nole and has never lost to the trio – Karlovic, Isner and Raonic. Murray has lost to Raonic twice and Federer has lost to him once.

  12. Last year Murray was 1:1 against Raonic, he hasn’t played Karlovic since 2012 so How does anyone know how he would fare against Karlovic now?

  13. in my personal opinion, I am not giving any weight to these things like rafa is finished or his decline has begun or that he was not able to beat a player he has owned for so long.

    My take: Rafa will have a very strong 2015. In my view there was nothing in his AO campaign to suggest he is on a decline. He will be back to playing some of the best aggressive tennis we have ever seen him play!

    I cannot predict about his future injuries but I can comment about his chances of playing at the highest level once again. I do not think he was injured at all! it was just tiredness , fatigue and undue strain on his body. The guy was playing best of 5 matches after such a long time and his preparation was poor. Of course in order to avoid bad press rafa would not talk about any injury even if there were any. But I am convinced there was no injury.

    Look for rafa to win both titles on clay , building strong momentum heading into IW.

    Vamos champ, you will be back to your best.

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