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Australian Open diary: Sunday 23 January

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Originally published on: 23/01/11 07:36

There’s been no shortage of intrigue in the fourth round match-ups at this year’s Australian Open, but Tomas Berdych’s tie with Fernando Verdasco was undoubtedly the most salivating of the lot – given that it was the only fourth round clash in the men’s draw to pit two top 10 players against each other.

Basked in searing sunshine, Margaret Court Arena came with the addition of three rows of bare-chested Berdych fans trying very hard to bring the house down. They sung, clapped and cheered Berdych through the match, coming up with a variety of amusing songs – my personal favourites: “Who let the Berd out, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet,” and to the beegees tune – “ah, ah, ah, ah Tomas Ber-dych, Tomas Ber-dych”

Whether it was the Czech’s support group (who all had suspiciously Australian sounding accents by the way) that rattled Verdasco, or Berdych’s brutish ground strokes – either way, the Spaniard didn’t turn up for the fourth round.

He may be physically stronger thanks to his off-season work with Gil Reyes, but Verdasco still has much to do to fix his all-too often fragile mental game. Visibly affected by a foot injury, he struck three double faults in one game to hand over a break during the second set, and in another example of how the talented Spaniard frustrates, he again mixed unforced errors with the sublime – pulling out a remarkable drop shot half-volley off his toes in the third set, only to lose the next three points and toil just to hold serve. In the end Berdych – aided by 31 winners – coolly eased out a 6-4 6-2 6-3 victory in just under two hours.

“That’s all I had today,” said Verdasco in his post match presser after lamenting the pain in his foot. Berdych, on the other hand, was in high spirits. “My game was great today, I was playing well,” said the Czech, who faces a repeat of his Wimbledon semi-final against No.3 seed Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.

Federer through to the last eight
Roger Federer progressed to his eighth straight quarter-final at the Australian Open after defeating Spaniard Tommy Robredo in four sets on Rod Laver Arena. Undeterred after losing the second set, the world No.2 moved through on to a 6-3 3-6 6-3 6-3 triumph over Robredo, who bows out of his 41st consecutive Grand Slam one round short of his career-best run in Melbourne. Federer faces a quarter-final clash with the winner of tonight’s clash between his countryman Stanislas Wawrinka and American Andy Roddick.

Caro takes on a Roo, or does she?
Continuing the theme of her press conference two days ago, Caroline Wozniacki was asked very little about tennis and a few more ‘exciting things’ in her post match presser after she beat Anistasija Sevastova 6-3 6-4 to ease into the quarter-finals. The world No.1 chose to play a little joke on the press, saying the reason she played with a steri-strip on her shin during her fourth round match was because she had been scratched by a kangaroo. She hadn’t – she had walked into the side of a treadmill – but all the assembled press believed her, and in the end, Caro’s guilt was such that she called a second press conference to apologise for misleading them!

Elsewhere…
Nicolas Almagro missed out on his first Australian Open quarter-final after losing in straight sets – which included a third set bagel – to Novak Djokovic, while, Na Li – who became the first Chinese woman to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open last year – dumped out Victoria Azarenka 6-3 6-3.

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