Australian Open Fifth Round beckons for Djokovic and Co
Top seed Novak Djokovic is overwhelmingly odds-on at 1/33 with Coral to beat Gilles Muller, and having never played the 31-year-old lefty from Luxembourg, admitted that he will “do homework” before he takes to the court.
“That’s something that is obviously a challenge for me, to come to the court and play the way I want to play against somebody I never played against before,” said Djokovic, who has been on Tour for 12 years with his upcoming opponent, with the two set to battle it out for a place in the quarter finals.
“That can be also dangerous because of the uncertainty of what he’s going to do in some moments,” continued Djokovic, who appeared to know Muller quite well.
“He’s been on the Tour for many years,” said Djokovic. “He’s got a great serve; lefty. He has a nice slice serve. That’s his favourite. He struggled a little bit with injuries [the] last couple years, but I think [the] last six months [he] has been playing some of his best tennis.”
Meanwhile, Stan Wawrinka is also heavily odds-on at 1/10 to beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez for the fifth time in his career, though he has lost to the Spaniard on three other occasions, so it could be a close affair.
Elsewhere, it will be an intriguing battle between fifth seed Kei Nishikori and David Ferrer, with the Japanese player holding a 6-3 winning record over the Valencia-based 32-year-old. Nishikori, odds-on at 4/9 was impressive as he powered past Steve Johnson over four sets in the last round.
“[After the first set], I started playing more side to side,” said Nishikori. “I was hitting to only his backhand, especially first set. He was playing really solid actually. Great forehand, hitting really aggressive. I think I was started a little bit shaky, a little bit tight.
“But after the second set I tried to change my mind, tried to hit through every ball. Return was getting much better. I hit a couple of winners from returns. After the first set I was playing I think really solid.”
In the ladies’, Serena Williams will be hoping to lay down the challenge for elder sister Venus who takes to the court later. The world number one is odds-on at 1/5 to beat 21-year-old Garbine Muguruza.
After dropping a tight opening set, Williams stormed back to down opponent Elina Svitolina, however she admitted improvement is needed following her win.
“I was a little passive in the first set, and she was hitting a lot of winners,” Williams said. “So I just started changing the pace and being more aggressive, and just doing the best I could.
“I knew I needed to hit my first serve harder – I knew I had to start using it more. I definitely want to work on getting off to a quicker start,” she said. “I know I can play 10 times better. Hopefully next time, the Serena will show up.”
Muguruza, though, won’t make it easy for her, with both players on one victory each against each other, following the Venezuelan’s fantastic win against Williams at Roland Garros last year. At 5/2 to nick the first set, this isn’t a bad price, considering the American’s current form in the early stages of games.
Speaking about beating Wiliams last year she said: “That day I played really well, I did what me and my coach were talking about doing before the match. Everything was perfect. That’s why I could win that match. You never have these kinds of matches when you play perfectly, so I’m just hoping I can do the same thing in two days.
“I knew eventually I would have to play against her again so I don’t have anything to lose. I don’t think I have any pressure. I like playing big matches in centre courts.”
Venus, 5/4, takes on a favourite sparring partner in Agnieszka Radwanska, with the current score set at 5-4 to the American in matches already played. The 25-year-old Pole, nine years Williams’ junior, is actually the favourite here, odds-on at 4/7, which makes for a very interesting tie.
It is an eastern European clash as Victoria Azarenka takes on Dominika Cibulkova, with the former odds-on at 4/9 to progress. The Belorussian holds a 7-2 advantage over the Slovakian, despite Azarenka being ranked 34 places below Cibulkova, with both players the same age at 25 years old. Therefore, there could be value in Cibulkova producing a shock, priced at 13/8 to advance.