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Australian Open Day 9 Preview

By Chris Pike
21 January 2014 04:07AM EST

THE Australian Open quarter finals begin on Tuesday with Li Na, Ana Ivanovic, David Ferrer and Novak Djokovic the favourites to advance, but their opponents are all in fine touch as well.

All four of the quarter-final match-ups will take place on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday starting with the women's clashes firstly between China's world No. 4 Li Na up and Italian veteran Flavia Pennetta following Serbia's Ana Ivanovic up against rising Canadian star Eugenie Bouchard.

The men's quarter-final action will then take over on Rod Laver Arena beginning with what is sure to be an enthralling battle between two men vying still for their first Grand Slam titles – Spaniard David Ferrer and Czech Tomas Berdych.

The night session will then feature a rematch from last year's Australian Open and US Open classics from last year when world No.2 Novak Djokovic takes on eighth-seeded Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka.

The first quarter-final of the day should be a tremendous contest as two 31-year-old women look to continue their tremendous form this fortnight so far in Melbourne.

China's Li Na is no stranger to playing well in Melbourne having previously reaching two of the last three finals.

She has won her way into the quarter finals again in 2014 by beating Ana Konjuh, Belinda Bencic, Lucie Safarova and Ekaterina Makarova. She has only dropped one set and that was in the third round to Safarova.

Meanwhile, Italian 28th-seed Pennetta is in the form of her career despite nearing her 32nd birthday.

Pennetta had a tremendous finish to her 2013 firstly making the fourth round of Wimbledon and then making a stirring run all the way to her first Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open.

And now she has started off 2014 on a similar note advancing to the Australian Open quarter finals for the first time beating Alexandra Cadantu, Monica Puig, Mona Barthel and Angelique Kerber along the way.

Li Na and Pennetta are both veterans of the WTA Tour and have met one another four times with the clashes split at two apiece. However, only one of those meetings have been in the last eight years and that was at Sydney in 2010 with Pennetta winning 6-2, 7-6 (4).

The second women's quarter-final of Tuesday is another hotly-anticipated contest between a former world No. 1 in Ivanovic who is looking to become a Grand Slam contender again as she takes on Canadian teenager Bouchard who is a definite gun of the future – or she might have already arrived.

Ivanovic reached her world No. 1 ranking in 2008 and won the only major title of her career also at the 2008 French Open, but it has been a battle for her since.

Ivanovic has only ever reached the quarter finals at any Grand Slam tournament since winning that title at Roland Garros in 22 attempts, and that came at the 2012 US Open.

However, the 26-year-old is now into the quarter finals of the Australian Open by scoring the upset of the tournament so far when she shocked world No. 1 Serena Williams in the Round of 16.

Bouchard, meanwhile, is a Wimbledon junior champion and has been earmarked as a star of the future, but she appears to have arrived earlier than most predicted by now being the first Grand Slam quarter-final of her career.

The 19-year-old 30th-seed has advanced to the quarters by beating Hao Chen Tang, Virginie Razzano, Lauren Davis and Casey Dellacqua.

Ivanovic and Bouchard have played just the once on tour with the Canadian teen winning 6-3, 6-3 in the second round of last year's Wimbledon.

The first men's quarter-final is set to be a cracking contest as world No. 3 Spaniard Ferrer takes on world No. 7 Berdych.

Ferrer and Berdych have met one another 11 times with the Spaniard leading the head-to-head battle 7-4 but remarkably they have never faced off at a Grand Slam.

While the pair have not won a Grand Slam title in their careers, they have won 28 titles on the ATP Tour combined and both have appeared in major finals – Ferrer at the 2013 French Open and Berdych at the 2010 Wimbledon.

Ferrer is into the quarter finals at the Australian Open for the fourth straight year and the Spanish 31-year-old has got there by downing Alejandro Gonzalez, Adrian Mannarino, Jeremy Chardy and Florian Mayer.

Berdych is into the quarters in Melbourne for the fourth consecutive year as well and he has advanced this year without dropping a set beating Aleksandr Nedovyesov, Kenny de Schepper, Damir Dzumhur and Kenny Anderson.

Up next is the third Grand Slam meeting over the past 12 months between four-time Australian Open winner and world No. 2 Djokovic and the eighth-seeded Swiss Wawrinka.

Djokovic and Wawrinka met at the Australian Open last year in the fourth round with the Swiss having golden chances to win in the fifth set, but eventually the Serb won 12 games to 10.

Then they also met at the US Open last year in another five-set battle with Djokovic again winning six games to four this time in the fifth to qualify for the final.

Wawrinka will now be hoping its third time lucky at Grand Slams in the space of the year against Djokovic as the 28-year-old looks to continue his run of the best, and most consistent, tennis of his career.

The longer he advances into the Australian Open as well and the more likely he is to finish the tournament as the Swiss No. 1 ahead of the legend Roger Federer.

Up until 2013, Wawrinka was a player with the talent of having some of the best ground strokes in the game but he never appeared to be fit enough or to work hard enough to be a player capable of putting it together enough to seriously contend for a Grand Slam.

However, that has now changed over the past 18 months and if he can beat Djokovic for only the third time in 18 matches in his career on Tuesday night, he is very much in the running to win the Australian Open title.

Wawrinka's two wins over Djokovic both came in 2006 in the first and third clash the two had in their career.

Djokovic, though, is once again in ominous form in Melbourne have won his way to the quarter finals by beating Lukas Lacko, Leonardo Mayer, Denis Istomin and Fabio Fognini all in a comfortable straight-sets.

The Serb 26-year-old has won four times at the Australian Open and never finished worse than the quarter finals since 2008 including having won the last three titles in-a-row.

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