Top seeds lead the way as first Grand Slam of 2015 reaches the final stages
The first Grand Slam event of 2015 reaches its climax this week and most of the top seeds have managed to reach the latter stages with little fuss.
Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams remain the favourites to take the respective titles but there is plenty of tennis left to play in Melbourne. Keep reading for our preview of all this week’s Australian Open action.
Australian Open – Men’s
There may have been plenty of seeded casualties in the woman’s event but the only major seed to fall in the men’s draw has been former champion Roger Federer.
The 33 year old fell to Andrea Seppi in round two but the rest of the second week line-up looks largely as expected.
It’s been a comfortable tournament so far for favourite and top seed Novak Djokovic.
The four-time champion hasn’t dropped a set so far and it’s worth remembering that his only loss in Melbourne in the last four years was in 2014’s quarter final.
Having played just a handful of matches since last year’s Wimbledon we weren’t sure about how Rafael Nadal would fare in Melbourne.
It would be fair to say that the second seed had low expectations for the tournament but after a scare in round two – a five set marathon with qualifier Tim Smyczek – he has been in excellent form.
The Spaniard cruised past Dudi Sela and Kevin Anderson to reach the quarter-finals and now faces a good looking match against Tomas Berdych.
Andy Murray’s preparation for Melbourne was excellent and the Scot has booked his place in the quarter finals having dropping just one set.
Murray is a three time finalist at this tournament and his path to the latter stages has been made easier by the elimination of Federer.
Murray will play the young Australian Nick Kyrgios for a place in the semi-finals where he’ll then face either Nadal or Berdych. We certainly like his chances of reaching the final.
Last year’s winner Stan Wawrinka has cruised into the second week with the minimum of fuss while two outsiders that we tipped before the tournament also remain in contention.
Beaten US Open finalist Kei Nishikori has reached the last eight as has Milos Raonic who we tipped at ante-post odds of 31/1.
Australian Open – Women’s
Just one unseeded player made it to the quarter final stage this year and that means there’s plenty of talent still left in the tournament.
Serena Williams remains the 2/1 favourite to take her sixth Australian Open crown and her progress has been relatively straightforward so far.
The 33 year old’s toughest match was in round three where she had to come from a set down to beat Elina Svitolina but she looks to be in the easier half of the draw.
However, it bears repeating that Williams hasn’t got past the last eight in Melbourne since 2010 and remains susceptible to defeat by a good performance from a rival.
Simona Halep has absolutely breezed into the second week in Melbourne and the Romanian third seed has yet to drop a set.
Having already won a WTA Tour event this year Halep is in great form and looks terrific value at 9/2.
The match of the quarter finals is between second seed and former champion Maria Sharapova and rising star Eugenie Bouchard.
After a wobble in round two against qualified Alexandra Panova, Sharapova has disposed of two seeds for the loss of just five games and looks to be in imperious form.
Eugenie Bouchard reached the semi-finals in Melbourne last year ranked number 30 in the world and ended the year in the world’s top ten.
The Canadian hasn’t faced a seed yet in the tournament but had to dig deep to defeat Irina-Camelia Begu in the fourth round. She’ll have to improve to beat the Russian.
It’s been something of a career revival for Venus Williams and the American has reached her first Grand Slam quarter final since Wimbledon in 2010.
She saw off our tip Agnieska Radwanska in round four and could well face her sister in the semi-final if she overcomes the unseeded Madison Keys.
It’s 24/1 that she wins her first ever Australian Open title at the age of 34.