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Veterans Turning Back The Clock at 2017 Australian Open

The quarter-final line-ups in the Australian Open men’s and women’s draws have been decided, and they look nothing like the expectations that most pundits held a little over a week ago. On the men’s side, unseeded German Mischa Zverev faces the giant task of defeating Swiss great Roger Federer (17) to reach the semis while another former Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka (4) takes on Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (12). In the bottom half of the draw, Rafael Nadal (9) will meet the highest seed remaining in the tournament, Canada’s Milos Raonic (3) with the remaining semi-final berth going to the winner of the David Goffin (11) v Grigor Dimitrov (15) match-up.

In the women’s tournament, a Williams v Williams final is still in play but it’s Serena who faces a tougher path through the next two rounds. She plays in-form Brit Johanna Konta (9) in the quarters with Karolina Pliskova (5) taking on Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the other quarter. In the top half, it’s CoCo Vandeweghe v Garbine Muguruza (7) while Venus Williams must defeat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to reach the last four.

Swiss on a roll

Four of the eight quarter-finals will be played today, with Wawrinka v Tsonga the last game of the day session on Rod Laver Arena with Zverev v Federer first-up for the night session. There’s not much to take from the head-to-head history between Wawrinka and Tsonga as five of their seven match-ups have been on clay. Their only clash on a hard court was a decade ago! Statistically, Tsonga has slightly better numbers on hard courts – he holds serve 91 percent of the time compared to Wawrinka’s 85 per cent while their ability to break opponents is almost identical. A four-set contest is a reasonable expectation at $2.35 (thanks to bet365).

Federer is not surprisingly priced at $1.13 to defeat Zverev, although the quote would have been way shorter only days ago. Their previous two meetings are inconsequential (Halle on grass in 2013, Rome on clay in 2009) with Federer winning both. Zverev stunned Murray with his serve and volley game but the Swiss master will be wary should he attempt this strategy again. Credit to the German for his run here after a long run of injuries but Roger gets this done comfortably (3-0 at $1.67 with William Hill).

Venus rising

Venus Williams is first up on Rod Laver Arena today against the Russian 24th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, with the CoCo Vandeweghe-Garbine Muguruza quarter-final to follow immediately after. As Federer, Nadal and Lucic-Baroni have shown, age doesn’t seem to be a barrier at this year’s Open and the 36-year-old Williams is yet to drop a set against Kateryna Kozlova, Stefanie Voegele, Duan Ying-Ying and Mona Barthel. Pavlyuchenkova is an improved player compared to 12 months ago, but her return statistics are considerably inferior to those of Williams. We’re staggered to find Williams rated the underdog here, and will be taking a fair slice of the $2.00 available at Sportsbet. Vandeweghe ($2.60) will be on a high after her straight-sets upset of world No.1 and defending champion Angelique Kerber. Meanwhile, seventh seed Garbine Muguruza ($1.50) has progressed to her first Australian Open quarter-final without the loss of a set. They’ve played three times, Vandeweghe winning twice. The market looks about right for this one with a slight lean to the American at the game-total line (+3.5 at $1.80 with Crownbet).

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