Angelique Kerber v Ekaterina Makarova
Angelique Kerber came past a potentially troublesome third round match against the teenage prodigy, Madison Keys. Given her usual standards, she has had a surprisingly serene route the tournament up until this point, and this is already the furthest that she has progressed in the Australian Open.
Ekaterina Makarova had an excellent win over the eleventh seed, Marion Bartoli, in the third round to leave herself on course to defend her quarterfinal points from last year. She seems to enjoy playing in Melbourne, although an almost three hour match in the last round might have taken something out of her.
The two played three times in 2012 with Kerber winning all three in straight sets. I suspect this could go the distance, but Kerber will eventually grind her down, and the hours on court against Bartoli will take their toll as the match progresses.
Prediction: Angelique Kerber to win in three sets
David Ferrer v Kei Nishikori
David Ferrer continues to impress, having dispatched the dangerous Marcos Baghdatis in three straightforward sets. He quietly goes about his business and it would be a brave man to bet against him justifying his seeding and reaching the semi-final.
Kei Nishikori has made tough work of his last two matches against Evgeny Donskoy and Carlos Berlocq, despite winning both in straight sets. He has had lapses in concentration that have allowed careless breaks of serve, and that is something that he cannot afford in this match.
Nishikori won when these two played at the Olympics last year, but there are still slight concerns over the knee injury that has plagued his early season, and Ferrer is just about the last player that you want to play under these conditions. The lapses that have occurred in his last two games are a worry as well, and I fancy Ferrer to come through this in straight sets.
Prediction: David Ferrer in straight sets
Kirsten Flipkens v Maria Sharapova
Kirsten Flipkens looks set to be the next victim of Maria Sharapova. She has started the season in impressive form, reaching the quarter-final in Auckland and the semi-final in Hobart. She destroyed Klara Zakopalova in the second round, although surprisingly dropped a set against Valeria Savinykh in the third round.
Maria Sharapova was simply outstanding for the first half an hour against Venus Williams. She was pounding her serves, hitting big returns and her forehand simply could not miss the lines. While her level did drop slightly, she is proving that she is a major contender for the title here, and her demolition of Venus will have sent a message to Serena Williams.
With no disrespect to Flipkens, if Maria plays even 50% of the level that she played in the first set against Venus, she will cruise this. She has probably been the most impressive player in the tournament so far.
Prediction: Sharapova to win easily in straight sets
Ana Ivanovic v Agnieszka Radwanska
A potentially excellent match, but one that could potentially be very one-sided. It is four years and four meetings since Ana Ivanovic last beat Agnieszka Radwanska, and the Pole has exactly the game that will frustrate Ivanovic. The Serb will have to keep her calm and try and keep the errors from creeping into her game. If she plays her best, she has the power to beat Radwanska.
Radwanska is still yet to drop a set in 2013. She will use her crafty game to force Ivanovic to play a huge number of shots, and she can use the Serb’s pace against her. Another player that will be eyeing up a potential final place, she should have a good chance here.
Prediction: Radwanska to win in a flurry of Ivanovic unforced errors
Novak Djokovic v Stanislas Wawrinka
Despite admitting that he is prepared for a tough match, Novak Djokovic is rarely seriously troubled by anyone outside Murray and Federer. He is yet to drop a set here, and he is yet to look even remotely like dropping a set.
Wawrinka had an impressive straight sets victory over Sam Querrey. Indeed, he is also yet to drop a set in the tournament. That record will end without a shadow of a doubt in this match. Wawrinka will have to serve outstandingly even to give himself a sniff of a result in this match.
The H2H is 13-2 in Djokovic’s favour, with the Serb winning the last ten, dropping only three sets. Simply based on that, it is difficult to see anything other than a straight sets win for the world number one.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic in straight sets