ATP Tour: Australian Open Selected Quarter-Finals Preview

Tennis Player hits ball

Our tennis expert previews two of the four quarter-finals coming your way from the Australian Open.



Lucas Pouille 38/10 | Milos Raonic 1/6
Lucas Pouille is an interesting case. The 24-year-old Frenchman looked on course to becoming one of the next generation hardcourt contenders. Towards the beginning of last year, he was exceptional. He won the Open Sud de France event before reaching both the Open 13 and Dubai Finals. And he also had some early Grand Slam pedigree, having reached the quarter-finals of Wimbledon and the US Open in 2016. But injuries and inconsistent form saw him plummet in the world rankings as 2018 progressed. So it’s fair to say that Pouille was hardly a contender going into 2019's first Grand Slam. He also lost his last five consecutive opening round matches in Melbourne. But a favourable draw and an excellent win over Borna Coric have propelled him into his third Grand Slam quarter.

Milos Raonic has been a player beset by injuries throughout the last few years. The 2016 Wimbledon finalist is now on the comeback trail and has been playing some brilliant tennis over the last year. He reached the semi-finals at Indian Wells last year, which really heralded his return to the upper echelon of the sport. He reached the final in Stuttgart before some heartbreaking Grand Slam defeats to John Isner. He lost in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon before losing a gruelling five-set monster to Isner at Flushing Meadows. But generally speaking, 2018 was the year that the tennis world was reminded of Raonic’s abilities, particularly his awesome service power. He has also come through a horror draw, beating Zverev, Wawrinka and Kyrgios en route to the quarter-finals. The 2016 Aussie Open semi-finalist looks primed for yet another Grand Slam semi-final appearance.

The stats don’t bode well for Pouille. Raonic leads their head-to-head 3-0, which actually includes a straight-sets victory in the 2016 Aussie Open. That’s significant because 2016 was the year that saw Pouille burst onto the scene with two Grand Slam quarter-final appearances, meaning he was ostensibly in prime form. Raonic has been playing some brilliant tennis and absolutely obliterated ‘NextGen’ heartthrob Alex Zverev. Raonic to win in straight sets at 21/20. 

Kei Nishikori 5/1 | Novak Djokovic 1/10
You have got to feel sorry for Japan’s top tennis icon. The resurgent Nishikori has now reached the quarter-final of the Aussie Open for the fourth time in his career. He recently broke an unwanted series of final defeats with that Brisbane Invitational win. It seems as if everything is on the up, right? Then he has to run into Djokovic. It certainly has not been smooth sailing for the industrious Japanese star. He has come through three bruising five-set encounters, highlighting his renowned never-say-die attitude. Nishikori came back in fine style last season, losing in three ATP Finals, including Monte Carlo. He also reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the semi-finals stage at Flushing Meadows. Grounds for optimism, right? The man who defeated him on both occasions is his opponent this week, long-time foe Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic’s ascension to the pinnacle of the world rankings has been serene, with back-to-back titles at Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows underlining his status as the world’s best player. The master of Melbourne is looking to claim a record seventh Aussie Open title this year, though he enters this event on the back of a shock defeat to Bautista-Agut in Qatar. He certainly wasn’t handed an easy draw, having to overcome Tsonga, Shapavalov and Medvedev thus far. He will be looking to atone for an extremely disappointing Aussie Open last season. He was knocked out in the round of 16 by eventual semi-finalist Chung. But in reality, the real Djokovic only truly remerged at Wimbledon. He also picked up titles at Shanghai and Cincinnati, further proof of the monumental task that Nishikori faces this week.

Any way one looks at this, it doesn’t auger well for Nishikori. Djokovic leads the head-to-head 17-2, astonishingly claiming their last 15 matches. You have to go back all the way to 2014 for a Nishikori win. Furthermore, Djokovic won their quarterfinal encounter here in 2016 in straight sets. The only value I can possibly see in backing Djokovic to win in straight sets at 15/20. Much like the Raonic-Pouille match. 

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.net

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