After a relatively uneventful opening week of matches in terms of chemistry and starpower on both sides of the net, the final eight of the 2015 Australian Open will likely produce their fair share of fireworks given the matches scheduled to take place. Arguably the most intriguing on Wednesday will be the battle between defending champion Stan Wawrinka and US Open runner-up Kei Nishikori. This will mark the fourth time that the two will cross paths on the tour, with Wawrinka leading the head to head series 2-1. However, he did lose to Nishikori in their most recent meeting – the quarter-final round of the US Open last year.
While Wawrinka was more than capable of advancing to the quarter-finals in straight sets, he somehow found himself leading 2-1 and fighting for dear life to ensure that Guillermo Garcia-Lopez does not level the match in the fourth set tiebreaker. The Spaniard led 4-0 in that decisive breaker but allowed Wawrinka to level back at 6-6, and missed several set points, which allowed the Swiss No. 2 to regain his composure and serve out the contest 7-6(2), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(8).
“I did maybe two mistakes, then he start to play a little bit faster, a little bit more flat. I start to be on my defensive a little bit too much. Can be quick. But, no, I’m happy to get through. Was important to win that match again. Is great for me to be in quarterfinal and get there, still there.”
Wawrinka’s upcoming opponent had a far easier time on court. Japanese No. 1 Kei Nishikori defeated Spain’s David Ferrer in straight sets 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to advance to the quarter-finals without much of a fight. Nishikori hit 43 winners, 7 aces, and wo 72% of his first service points to close out the match in 2 hours and 7 minutes, and prepare for the riveting encounter with the Swiss star.
“It’s going to be really tough match because I seen his play on TV couple matches. Even today he was playing really good. You know, he can hit balls forehand, backhand – great backhand actually. He can hit anywhere from even at the back. Yeah, it’s going to be tough match. But obviously I’m on quarterfinals, so never easy matches coming up. Hopefully I can play another good match.”
This will mark the fourth time that Nishikori and Wawrinka will cross paths on the professional tour, and could produce the most exciting battle of the tournament to date. While Wawrinka holds the 2-1 lead, Nishikori won their most recent meeting – a five-set thriller at the US Open last year to send himself to the semi-final stage of the event. Can he replicate that feat this time around in Melbourne?
Prediction: Kei Nishikori in Five Sets