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Rafael Nadal aims for Australian Open quarter-final glory
Free tennis tips, best bets and analysis for day nine of the Australian Open, which starts at midnight on Monday evening UK & Ireland time.
where to watch
Eurosport 1 & 2, from Monday midnight
Rafael Nadal winner and both players win a set
1pt 6-4 bet365
Matteo Berrettini ahead of Gael Monfils
2pts 8-13 general
Preview of the ninth day
Rafael Nadal vs Denis Shapovalov
The absence of world number one Novak Djokovic and the surprise exit of Alexander Zverev in the fourth round put Rafael Nadal in a dominant position to reach his sixth Australian Open final.
The Spaniard has added motivation to make the most of the opportunity presented to him as a victory in Melbourne would see him surpass the achievements of Djokovic and Roger Federer, who have also won 20 Grand Slam titles.
Nadal has fallen at that hurdle in each of the last two years, but a quiet 2021 seems to have done the trick and a victory in the Melbourne Summer Set earlier this month gave him confidence.
The fifth seed carried that form with him to the Australian Open with victories over Marcos Giron, Yannick Hanfmann, Karen Khachanov and Adrian Mannarino.
However, Nadal lost a third-round set to Karen Khachanov and was embroiled in an epic 28-minute tie-break with Mannarino, so Alexander Zverev’s conqueror Denis Shapovalov can offer fierce resistance.
The young Canadian is fearless and while perhaps flattered by his margin of victory over Zverev, he has the weapons to make Nadal work hard for his rewards.
The 22-year-old needed five sets to defeat Soonwoo Kwon and also dropped sets in wins over Laslo Djere and Reilly Opelka and despite all his great efforts he can still fall short.
Gael Monfils versus Matteo Berrettini
French veteran Gael Monfils has rolled back the years to reach the last eight of the Australian Open but may need to take his game to another level to meet the challenge of seventh seed Matteo Berrettini.
The rejuvenated 35-year-old won silverware in Adelaide earlier this month and was equally impressive in Melbourne, recording four straight wins.
However, he has only faced one player in the world’s top 36 in this run and a hectic recent schedule could soon take its toll as he regularly battles injuries.
Berrettini had a much tougher run to the quarter-finals with Carlos Alcaraz and Pablo Carreno Busta his last two victims and he has now won 20 consecutive Grand Slam matches against players other than Novak Djokovic, so he seems a worthy favourite.
Ashleigh Barty vs. Jessica Pegula
World No. 1 and home favorite Ashleigh Barty is already poised for Australian Open glory and should have little to worry about seeing her quarter-final challenger Jessica Pegula.
The Queensland native has recorded four straight wins in her home slam, meaning she has now recorded routine wins in 14 of her last 16 encounters.
Barty’s list of Melbourne casualties includes Italy’s 30th seed Camila Giorgi and American Amanda Anisimova, who previously defeated Naomi Osaka, and she is also expected to wrap up quickly against Pegula. However, a straight-sets win is priced accordingly at 8-15.
Barbora Krejcikova vs. Madison Keys
There is an intriguing last-eight battle between Barbora Krejcikova and Madison Keys, with the bookmakers having a slight preference for the Czech fourth seed.
That seems about right considering Krejcikova, who won the French Open and also made the US Open quarter-finals last year, was more consistent in the recent Grand Slam.
That said, Keys has won ten of her 11 games this year and a convincing 6-3 6-1 win over world number six Paula Badosa last time out suggests she is capable of climbing back to her seven-year ranking.
With both players in such good hearts, this seems like a tough game to call and, from a punt standpoint, best left alone.
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FIRST PUBLICATION AT 5:00 PM, JANUARY 23, 2022