Murray gets ready to face wrath of Rafa
Monday 25 January 2010
The easy part is over for Andy Murray. The Australian Open is about to get a whole lot tougher for the great hope of British tennis.
Murray coasted through his first four matches without dropping a set but his quarter-final opponent in Tuesday's feature night match presents a much bigger challenge.
By his own incredible standards, Rafa Nadal is not at his best. The Spaniard has struggled with injuries since winning last year's Australian Open and is only just regaining his confidence.
There have been plenty of indicators to suggest he is getting back to his old form and his clash with Murray could be a watershed for both men.
"I think I am okay," Nadal said. "But I have to play better next match if I really want to have chances to win.
"Andy is one of the more difficult players to play against. I have to play my best tennis."
Nadal has won five of his previous seven meetings with Murray but the Scotsman is not without hope. Nadal has won just one of his last 11 matches against players ranked in the top 10.
"I'm playing well, there's no question about that," said Murray, the only player in the top five yet to win a grand slam title.
"I'm happy to have won the matches comfortably. I know the match against Rafa is going to be difficult, but I think I can win."
The winner of that match will advance to the semi-finals against either American Andy Roddick or Croatia's Marin Cilic.
Their match, also scheduled for Tuesday, is shaping as a battle of the fittest after both were pushed all the way in their fourth round encounters.
Cilic upset Argentina's US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro in five sets while Roddick also went the full distance before wearing down Chile's Fernando Gonzalez.
Roddick and Cilic have played each other twice before, winning one apiece, but the American said those matches would have no bearing on their next clash.
"I don't think we can put much stock into our previous meetings," Roddick said.
"I remember I played him at Queen's a long time ago, he played pretty badly. Then I played him in Canada, and I played pretty badly."
Justine Henin's comeback to professional tennis is building momentum but she faces a tricky quarter-final against Russia's Nadia Petrova, the only seed left in the bottom half of the women's draw.
Petrova made it through to the last eight with back-to-back wins over US Open champion Kim Clijsters and French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and is in the best form of her career but it remains to be seen how seasoned Henin is.
The Belgian won seven grand slam singles titles before her shock retirement in 2008 and has lost none of her skill or determination but her body is aching.
"It's only my second tournament (back)," she said.
"Of course, I have dreams. I'll try to go as far as possible. If it's till the end, it would be amazing but it's still too early to talk about that."
Awaiting the winner of that match is either China's Zheng Jie or Russia's Maria Kirilenko.
Zheng made the semi-finals at Wimbledon two years ago while Kirilenko, like Petrova, has been something of a giantkiller, beating both Maria Sharapova and Dinara Safina on her way to the quarters.
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1 player ratings: Carlos Tevez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata on target - but who scored highest?
Juventus vs Real Madrid match report: Carlos Tevez gives Juve the edge after goals from Alvaro Morata and Cristiano Ronaldo
Gareth Bale performance slammed by Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and Lee Dixon: 'His team-mates can't be happy'
David Beckham reveals secret of his success: I 'stayed in to watch Match of the Day' rather than go out with friends on a Saturday night
Cristiano Ronaldo sticks up for Japanese boy after he struggles to speak Portuguese
- 4 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
- 5 Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils