Ash Barty is just two matches away from making the Australian Open Final, but in-form Czech Karolina Muchova has been a handful lately and will make her earn it.
Here are The Wolf’s Australian Open tips for Day 10.
It’s the Quarter Final we were all after – an all-Russian affair between two of the in-form players on tour in Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev.
But it may be the match up Rublev would prefer to avoid, with a terrible record against his fellow countryman across their career.
Medvedev is 4-0 against Rublev, winning all nine sets that the two have played. This included a straight-sets win in the 2020 US Open Quarter Final, but two of those sets did result in tie-breakers.
Both players did it easy in their fourth round matches so will enter this fresh, and although The Wolf backs Rublev against just about any other opponent the proof is in the pudding that he genuinely struggles against Medvedev.
Expect Medvedev to take the honours once again with the psychological edge he’s got over Rublev in either three or four sets currently at $1.72 – but Rublev to finally take a set off Medvedev at 3-1 paying $3.90 looks value too.
Before all of Australia try to tear The Wolf down for taking Karolina Muchova at the +5.5 game handicap, I still do expect Ash Barty to get the win here – but the game handicap seems extremely long.
Muchova is yet to drop a set this Australian Open, with the 25th seed knocking out Karolina Pliskova and Elise Mertens in successive matches. A trend of the Czech has been playing plenty of long sets that go to 7; five of her eight sets this tournament have gone to 7, with only the one resulting in a tie-breaker.
We saw how dominant Barty was against American Shelby Rogers – but she still didn’t clear the 5.5 game handicap. From the Australian’s last six matches against top-30 opposition, Barty has cleared the 5.5 game handicap just once.
The 24-year-old Czech has been impressive this tournament, and The Wolf doesn’t expect a complete Quarter Final blowout.
The Greek is very fresh entering this Quarter Final with Nadal, with Matteo Berrettini forced to walkover in their Round of 16 clash. To go with this, Tsitsipas’ third-round lasted 94 minutes.
The Spaniard, on the other hand, has had four straight set victories, but the Quarter Final stage is when we see Nadal start to tire and entering the tournament with a back injury this is a danger match.
Nadal has played in 12 Australian Open Quarter Finals across his career and has a 6-6 record – all six losses were against players ranked lower than the Spaniard. He’s 2-3 from his last five Australian Open Quarter Finals and has dropped the first set in four of the last seven Australian Open Quarter Finals including last year against Dominic Thiem.
Nadal holds a 6-1 record over Tsitsipas across their career, but the Greek has taken sets in three of his last four matches – the one he got rolled in straight sets was on clay at the Rome Masters in 2019.
If Tsitsipas can find a rhythm early by holding his serve, expect his fresh legs at the start of the match to play a major impact in this contest with the Greek getting an early jump on Nadal. The big question will be, can Stefanos hold his nerve when Nadal makes his run?
Tsitsipas to win a set (M)