Vamos Mandy :)
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Looking for Andy's forehand with Sarah and Re...
Re: Mal's QF Picks: Federer might not beat Nalbandian
here's from the AO site:
Men's quarter-final preview
by Bren O'Brien
Monday, January 26, 2004
Six of the eight quarter-finalists at Australian Open 2004 are seeded players. Of the remaining two, one is a former US Open champion. The cream has truly risen to the top at Melbourne Park and the remaining six days offers a feast of magical tennis.
Andy Roddick (1) v Marat Safin
No.1 seed Andy Roddick has progressed to the quarter-finals without dropping a set, and while that is no great shock, the ease of those victories has been somewhat surprising. His toughest test came in the opening round where Chilean Fernando Gonzalez pushed him to a tie-breaker in the third set. Since then he has only dropped his serve once, defeating Czech Bohdan Ulihrach, compatriot Taylor Dent and Dutchman Sjeng Schalken.
While Roddick represents the new face of tennis, Marat Safin has been the comeback story of this tournament. The former world No.1 and 2002 Australian Open finalist, missed much of 2003 with injury, slipping to number 86 in the world. There is little doubt he possesses an incredibly powerful game and twice so far in this tournament he has shown he has the character to match that talent. After four-set victories over Brian Vahaly and Jarkko Nieminen, he looked under pressure when he trailed veteran Todd Martin two sets to one in the third round. He responded by taking the fourth set to love before prevailing 7-5 in the fifth.
He produced another memorable performance against American James Blake, responding when challenged to prevail in four sets with some brilliant and sometimes innovative tennis. He set up a crucial break-point in the fourth set with a freakish backhand lob, the racquet flying out of his hand as Blake was left stranded at the net.
Safin also has the advantage of having won the only encounter between the two, a straight-sets victory over Roddick in the first-round in Los Angeles in July 2001.
Andre Agassi (4) v Sebastien Grosjean (9)
Andre Agassi has extended his winning run at Melbourne Park to an incredible 25 matches, and the defending champion has shown no signs so far this tournament that the winning streak will end anytime soon. He, like Roddick, is yet to drop a set, with Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan the only player to push him. Even in that match, Srichaphan only threatened in the first set, taking it to a tie-breaker which Agassi won easily before motoring through the next two sets 6-3 6-4.
Sebastien Grosjean, a semi-finalist here in 2001, has slipped through to the final eight almost unnoticed, following up comfortable wins against Mikhail Youzhny and Jan Michael Gambill with four-set victories over Dominik Hrbaty and Robby Ginepri. He was beaten by Agassi in the quarter-finals here last year and before that, that the two men split their four encounters.
They first faced off in the opening round of the US Open in 1998, Agassi winning in straight sets before Grosjean prevailed in a French Open quarter-final in 2001. Their next two matches were in Masters Series events in Sydney in 2001, where the Frenchman won, and in Madrid in 2002, where the American was victorious.
Juan Carlos Ferrero (3) v Hicham Arazi
A run of seven-straight losses in tournament play isn't the ideal preparation for the year's first Grand Slam but Juan Carlos Ferrero has bounced back in superb style at Melbourne Park. After not dropping a set against either Albert Montanes or Filippo Volandri, he progressed in four against Swede Joachim Johansson and Romanian Andrei Pavel. His biggest battle so far has been with a groin injury which has threatened to derail his campaign. The injury, a torn adductor muscle, cost him the second set against Pavel, but he continues to receive treatment.
The athletic Arazi is exactly the sort of opponent Ferrero wouldn't want to be facing in a Grand Slam quarter final under an injury cloud. Before his straight-sets demolition of Mark Philippoussis, the left-hander had shown little to suggest that he would trouble the tournament's top seeds. He defeated Frenchman Olivier Mutis in four and then was the beneficiary as Cyril Saulnier retired injured in the second round. He dropped the first set of his third-round match with Albert Costa but recovered to win in four and set up his match with Philippoussis.
Ferrero holds the edge 3-2 in their five clashes so far but each of those wins have come on clay, the most recent in the 2002 Davis Cup tie in Spain. Arazi has won both matches played on hard courts, in Cincinnati and Paris in 2001.
David Nalbandian (8) v Roger Federer (2)
The pick of the quarter finals on paper, this match pitches the world's most improved player against what many regard of the most graceful.
David Nalbandian's Australian Open 2004 campaign has been almost faultless so far, with the Argentine dropping just one service game in his first two matches against Ricardo Mello and Florian Mayer. He dealt with 2003 semi-finalist Wayne Ferriera with ease before making the most of Guillermo Canas' fatigue to sweep past his compatriot and into the final eight.
Roger Federer has also looked every bit the potential champion, not dropping his serve until the third round clash with Todd Reid, which he won easily 6-3 6-0 6-1. He was on the back foot early in his clash against Lleyton Hewitt but lifted to win in four sets, atoning somewhat for his Davis Cup semi-final defeat on the same court four months earlier.
Nalbandian has imposing record against his higher seeded opponent winning the first five of the six matches they have played. Federer finally beat the Argentine at the Masters Cup in Houston last year. Prior to that Nalbandian had knocked Federer out of two Grand Slams at the fourth-round stage - the 2003 Australian and US opens. Nalbandian also won on the hard court of Cincinnati in 2003, the carpet in Basel in 2002 and the clay of Monte Carlo, also in 2002.