Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: ATP Tour 2020: Australian Open Preview

ATP Tour 2020: Australian Open Preview

ATP Tour 2020: Australian Open Preview - Round of 32

Damien Kayat takes a look at the selected quarterfinal matches from the ATP Tour's Australian Open taking place at Melbourne Park. 

ATP Tour 2020 | Australian Open | Melbourne Park
Selected Quarterfinals - 29 January 2020

Alex Zverev (6/10) 
vs Stanislas Wawrinka (5/4)
Alex Zverev has turned into something of a crowd favourite in Melbourne after pledging to donate his whole prize money to Australian Bushfire relief. But beyond that, the German has been devastating thus far. He is yet to drop a set, demolishing red-hot Andrey Rublev in straight sets last time out. It is all the more incredible when you look at his form entering this event. He lost all three matches at the ATP Cup.  Furthermore, Zverev is a perennial underachiever in Grand Slam tennis, yet to go beyond the quarterfinal of any Slam.  But there is no doubting his abilities. Even though 2019 was an erratic year for Zverev, he still reached a series of finals, tasting victory in Geneva. His form encouragingly picked up towards the end of the year, with a final in Shanghai followed by a semi-final in the ATP Finals. The 2018 ATP Finals Champion looks to be enjoying his tennis away from some of the expectation that has weighed him down last year.

The resurrection of Stan Wawrinka’s career has been something to behold. He thought it likely that his last knee surgery had signaled the end to his career. But his magnificent five-set comeback victory over Danil Medvedev in the last round saw Wawrinka back at his vintage best, moving around the court completely unencumbered. Wawrinka has had to battle hard in this year’s event, needing five sets to get past Andreas Seppi in the 2nd round. So there will be an element of fatigue for the 34-year-old to contend with. The 2014 champion hasn’t won a title since Geneva in 2017. But he certainly made strong strides last year, reaching the finals of Rotterdam and the European Open. More importantly, he had quarterfinal runs at both the French and US Open.  Wawrinka will be desperate to take it one step further on a court he so loves. 

This will only be the third time these two will have met. Zverev leads the head-to-head 2-0, though I wouldn’t read too much into that. Those results came back in 2016 and 2017 when Wawrinka was struggling with a plethora of injuries. This is really a classic clash, with a proven Grand Slam veteran taking on the unproven rising star. I just think that Wawrinka’s victory over Medvedev was huge. He will beat Zverev if he plays at that level.

Rafa Nadal (3/10)  
Dominic Thiem (22/10)
The Rafael Nadal show rolls on, after a fiery encounter with arch-nemesis Nick Kyrgios. All joking aside, Nadal did well to fend off a focused Kyrgios in front of fanatical Aussie support.  Nadal is seeking to win just his second title here, though he has been the losing finalist on four occasions. I’m impressed with the way he has beefed up his service game. Nadal is coming off a sensational 2019, where he captured both the French Open and Flushing Meadows titles. He also lost that Aussie Open final to Novak Djokovic in uncharacteristically one-sided fashion. Nadal’s quest to close the all-time Grand Slam gap on Roger Federer goes into overdrive and Dominic Thiem is the next man in line to stop him.

Austrian Dominic Thiem enjoyed a sensational 2019 campaign that saw him capture five titles. That included a Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells, where he beat Roger Federer in the final.  He won further titles in Vienna, China, Austria, and Barcelona.  Perhaps more significant was a run to the ATP year-end Final, where he lost an epic match against Stefanos Tsitsipas.  Thiem will be playing his maiden Aussie Open quarterfinal, after being eliminated at the fourth round stage for the last three years. He started the event in sluggish fashion squeaking by the unheralded Bolt in the second round. But he played his best tennis in the fourth round, absolutely dominating a helpless Gael Monfils. Thiem will be looking to avenge the last two French Open final defeats to the great Nadal.

This will be their 14th meeting, with Nadal holding a significant 9-4 head-to-head lead. They have only ever met once on hard courts, with Nadal winning an epic five-set US Open quarterfinal in 2018. But Thiem has beaten Nadal four times on clay, which is hugely meaningful when you consider Nadal’s status as a clay-court god. That makes me think that a four-set Nadal victory at 26/10 offers some value.  

Written by Damien Kayat for Hollywoodbets.

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