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Australian Open Day 10 Preview

By Chris Pike
22 January 2014 04:14AM EST

VICTORIA Azarenka, Agnieszka Radwanska, Simona Halep, Dominika Cibulkova, Rafael Nadal, Grigor Dimitrov, Roger Federer and Andy Murray will all be in Australian Open quarter-final action on Wednesday.

The day on Rod Laver Arena begins with the final two of the women's quarter finals firstly with 11th-seeded Romanian Simona Halep taking in 20th-seeded Slovak Dominika Cibulkova before world No. 2 Victoria Azarenka does battle with world No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska.

It is then time for the men's quarter-final action on Wednesday beginning in the afternoon with world No. 1 Rafael Nadal taking on 22-year-old Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov.

The night's quarter-final action on Rod Laver Arena will see a potential classic between four-time Australian Open winner Roger Federer and three-time runner-up and reigning Wimbledon champion Andy Murray.

Despite the regularity of Federer, Murray, Novak Djokovic and Nadal filling out the semi-final spots in Grand Slam tournaments, the most of those four to be in this year's semis will be three, and possibly as few as one after world No. 2 Djokovic was beaten by Novak Djokovic on Tuesday night.

The day's action on Wednesday starts with the women's quarter-final match-up between two women looking for their career-best performance at this year's Australian Open.

Prior to this year, Romanian 11th-seed Halep had never been past the third round in Melbourne and her best performance at a major was her fourth round appearance at last year's US Open.

The 22-year-old has had a superb tournament so far, though, beating Katarzyna Piter, Varvara Lepchenko, Zarina Diyas and former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic.

While 20th-seeded Cibulkova has been in outstanding form with the 24-year-old advancing to the quarter finals by beating Francesca Schiavone, Stefanie Voegele, Carla Suarez Navarro and Maria Sharapova.

It already is Cibulkova's best Australian Open performance eclipsing her fourth round appearance in 2009 and a victory over Halep will equal her semi-final showing at the 2009 French Open.

Halep and Cibulkova have met just the three times previously with the Slovak leading the head to head battles 2-1.

Following that match-up will the last of the women's quarter finals when two of the world's top five players – Azarenka and Radwanska do battle with a semi-final berth up for grabs.

Azarenka is the highest-seed left following world No. 1 Serena Williams being eliminated and the defending Australian Open champion has been in ominous form through the first four rounds beating Johanna Larsson, Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, Yvonne Meusburger and Sloane Stephens all in comfortable straight-sets.

The 24-year-old Belarusian enjoys playing in Melbourne having won the last two titles in-a-row for her only two Grand Slam victories to date.

Meanwhile, Radwanska's best performance in the Australian Open has been the quarter finals of which she made firstly in 2008, and now has been bundled out in the last three straight years.

This year so far she has made it to the quarter finals by beating Yulia Putintseva, Olga Govortsova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Garbine Muguruza.

Azarenka and Radwanska have played one another previously on 15 different occasions with the Belarusian leading convincingly 12 to three.

Their battles began way back in 2006 with Radwanska winning their first two meetings including the first round of Wimbledon of that year.

However, since then Azarenka has won 12 of the last 13 meetings including a 6-7, 6-0, 6-2 triumph in the quarter finals at the 2012 Australian Open.

It is then onto the men's action and first up is the battle of world No. 1 and 13-time Grand Slam winner Nadal and a player long thought of as the brightest young talent in the game, 22-year-old Bulgarian Dimitrov.

Dimitrov has threatened since his first appearance on ATP Tour to have the ability to be a true star of the sport, but this Australian Open has been his coming out party after failing to put it all together previously in his career.

However, the player coached by Roger Rasheed and the boyfriend of Maria Sharapova is now able to make up strong best of five-set matches evidenced by him advancing to his first Grand Slam quarter-final.

He has got there by beating Bradley Klahn, Yen-Hsun Lu, Milos Raonic and Roberto Bautista Agut.

However, it is a totally different thing now for the 22nd-seed to go from beating the likes of those players to now taking on a Nadal who has been in a brutal mood through his first four matches.

The Spanish world No. 1 has cruised into the quarter-final by beating Bernard Tomic, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Gael Monfils and Kei Nishikori.

Nadal and Dimitrov have met before three times on the ATP Tour with the Spaniard winning each of them including twice in 2013. However, all three meetings have gone the distance between the two.

The final match-up will then feature world No. 4 Brit Murray up against world No. 6 Swiss Federer as the pair meet for the third time in the Australian Open, first time in a Grand Slam quarter-final, the fifth time overall at a major and the 20th time all-time.

Murray had an impressive run against Federer early in his career winning six of seven matches between 2006-2009, but the Swiss then won five of the next seven between the two including the Australian Open final in 2010 and Wimbledon final in 2012.

The tables have turned again recently with Murray having won three of the last four clashes including in five sets in the semis of last year's Australian Open.

Murray had a disappointing finish to 2013 missing out on defending his title at the US Open because of back surgery and ending up No. 4 in the world despite winning Wimbledon during the year.

Despite at times appearing hindered by his back so far, Murray has won through to the quarter finals beating Go Soeda, Vincent Millot, Feliciano Lopez and Stephane Robert, only dropping one set along the way.

Federer, though, has been in vintage form so far in his first four matches beating James Duckworth, Blaz Kavcic, Teymuraz Gabashvili and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga all without dropping a set.

Not that it will be at all on his mind, but Federer will also be overtaken as the Swiss world No. 1 for the first time ever by Wawrinka if he doesn’t beat Murray, and go on to make the final in Melbourne.

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