We’re back, we’re better than ever.
The fact of the matter is that the tennis is not really good today as the players try and punch their tickets to the quarterfinals. We’re starting off with Suarez Navarro and Kontaveit on the women’s side of it. Suarez Navarro has a really strange kind of game, but even that isn’t really enough to move the needle.
The rest of the pre-midnight matches are equally forgettable, with the possible exception of Cilic against Carreno Busta. Nadal should positively roll against Schwartzman. Wozniacki-Rybarikova isn’t moving ay needles, and Edmund-Seppi sounds more like a 250 level second round match than an Australian Open fourth round match.
The big match, of course, is Dimitrov against Kyrgios, a rematch of the final in Brisbane only a few weeks ago. Kyrgios is the trendy pick, and for good reason, but for some reason I see Dimitrov winning. We wrote about Kyrgios-Dimitrov before. I don’t think Kyrgios is going to find the same edge he did in Brisbane.
We’ll be here. We hope the tennis ends up better than it looks on paper.
7:02 PM CST:
Tristan: Ben, did Carla Suarez Navarro start playing tennis in 1960?
Ben: Her entire aesthetic is dramatically out of time and place. Everything from the hair to the backhand screams “this is not 2018.” Too bad she’s not that good. She just lost the first set to Kontaveit.
7:08 PM CST:
Ben: Well there’s the second set break for Kontaveit. This one is going to be over pretty quickly. Kontaveit is too big, too fast, and too strong. She’s completely dominated the proceedings thus far, and unless something dramatically changes, and quickly, this one is going to be a rout.
7:19 PM CST:
Tristan: The first interesting match of the day (there’s Wozniacki/Rybarikova, which you may like if you enjoy looping forehands into the center of the court) is Carreno Busta vs. Cilic. There’s a case to be made that this won’t be interesting either given that has a 0.95 dominance rating (percentage of total points won) on hard court in the last year. His one career match against Cilic came in 2016 in Basel, in which he lost 6-0, 7-6 (4). However, technically PCB has a shot given how well he’s been playing in these best-of-five slam matches.
The main issue for PCB is that Cilic is actually the best returner the Spaniard has faced all tournament (an injured Simon does not qualify). Carreno Busta’s serving got exposed in the first match by Jason Kubler, of all people, and I doubt he has the juice to knock Cilic off the block. Analytically and physically, Cilic is a better hard court player in almost every respect. The only hope I see for Carreno Busta is some sort of mental implosion from Cilic like he had against Schwartzman in the US Open. That’s certainly possible because it’s Marin Cilic, but I just don’t see how Cilic can lose. Carreno Busta is going to have to return better than he has since the Shapovalov match, probably, and get lucky in some tiebreaks. I guess it’s good that those are his most repeatable skills, though.
7:37 PM CST:
Ben: Holy ejection, Batman. Kontaveit had this thing dead to rights and then she lost five straight games and gave up the second set. We’re going to the distance in the opening match of the night! Kontaveit looked like she lost the plot in that second set, and she’s got to find a way back in now. She’s clearly the better player, but, wow, was that some kind of way to respond to having complete control of the match.
8:46 PM CST:
Ben: Tristan, it’s 80’s night in Melbourne.
Tristan: It’s Back to the Future! Carla Suarez Navarro wins 8-6 in the third after Annett Kontaveit had one of the chokes of the year. The Estonian went up 6-4, 4-1 with a double break before losing five straight games. Then she got the first break of the third and lost serve on a flurry of unforced errors. Suarez Navarro tactically and literally pushed her way to the win. Fun match!
Is it just me or should Suarez Navarro go back to a wooden racquet and wear glasses to perfect the 1980s style?
Also, Carreno Busta has won a tiebreak in the first against Cilic. Marin blew three set points and failed to serve out the set at 5-4, so he’s back in peak Cilic form.
Ben: Have you seen how stupidly easy Nadal has it on the way to the final? He’s going to get the winner of this PCB-Cilic winner in the quarters and then Dimitrov/Kyrgios/Edmund/Seppi in the semis. And he’s in exceptional form. What a joke.
8:57 PM CST:
Tristan: Hmm…I think Fed has it pretty easy too. He gets to avoid Del Potro and Goffin, instead probably facing Berdych (whom he completely owns), which should save him for the big match against Djokovic. Nadal’s opponent in this round (Schwartzman) is also much, much more dangerous than Fucsovics. Honestly, I think Nadal would rather go against Djokovic than Kyrgios right now. Kyrgios is really the only one of the top half who I think can really challenge Nadal at this moment. Dimitrov is not getting anywhere, Cilic is bad, and Carreno Busta is just Nadal but right-handed and significantly worse. In the bottom half, it’s also really just Djokovic and maybe Dominic Thiem. Just kidding, Fed would roast Dominic Thiem on this surface.
9:10 PM CST:
Ben: Waroline Cozniacki
9:37 PM CST:
Tristan: PCB’s plan all along was to draw Cilic into a false sense of security. That’s why he was bad in the second. What a plan.
10:07 PM CST:
Ben: Caroline Wozniacki just won a really boring match. Rybarikova acted like she was hurt for most of the second set, but it wouldn’t matter if she was at 100%. When Wozniacki turned it on, she proved to be in an entirely different class. The women’s draw, for as weird as it has been, still has its top two seeds. Just don’t look too far down.