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Serena Williams rolling through Aussie Open

By: Allan Blanks and Corey Johns

Serena WilliamsAmerican Isner falls, but Serena still dominating

John Isner isn’t exactly on the level of former top Americans like Andy Roddick, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras or John McEnroe but he is the American hope right now. Unfortunately, the dream ended on Saturday when he lost to unseeded Gilles Muller in straight-sets, 7-6, 7-6, 6-4. Muller is going on to face top-seeded Novack Djokovic.

Luckily, Serena Williams is still showing that she is by far the best women’s tennis player in the world. Through three matches, Williams has lost only one set. That was in her last match against Elina Svitolina but after dropping the 4-6 set, she stormed back and won the next two in impressive fashion, 6-2, 6-0.

Both Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova are still in the tournament, potentially setting up for a must-see semifinals and finals match.

Djokovic, Nadal and Murray advance, Seppi can’t continue Cinderella run

Andreas Seppi has his moment and an walk out of the Australian open with his head held higher than ever. It doesn’t matter that he dropped three-straight sets in a five-set match to lose to Nick Kyrgios, 5-7, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 8-6. The guys wasn’t expected to be their anyway. The unseeded Italian was expected to lose his first round match to No. 29 Jeremy Chardy, but scored an incredibly 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 victory over him. Then, he just played the game of his life against Roger Federer, the No. 2 seeded player in the tournament. He just couldn’t carry the momentum into a showdown against Kyrgios and their is nothing to be ashamed of.

Now, Kyrgios is set to take on No. 10 Andy Murray, who beat Grigor Dimitrov in a tough four-set match, 6-4, 6-7, 6-3, 7-5.

No. 3 seed Rafael Nadal has dominated the open so far ad is set to take on seventh-seeded Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals after beating Kevin Anderson, 7-5, 6-1, 6-4.

Novack Djokovic is set to face Gilles Muller in the quarterfinals after beating Fernando Verdasco, 7-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Bouchard advances, sets up huge quarterfinal battle against Sharapova

Lethal from both sides, Eugenie Bouchard powered her way through fourth round opponent Irina-Camelia Begu 6-1, 7-5, 6-2. As the score indicated, this match-up was a slug-fest in which both contenders punished each other with forehands and experienced difficulties closing the contest.

“I think my game dropped a little bit” Bouchard said. “She (Irina-Camelia Begu) definitely played good tennis. I didn’t know her that well which can be difficult and I’m happy that I was able to regroup and win the third [set].”

This fourth round match-up was the first competitive meeting between the two and both contenders put on a ferocious display of power. Both Bouchard and Begu took the ball flat and hit with heavy top spin. Slices, drop shots and lobs were virtually eliminated from this contest.

Throughout the match, Bouchard controlled the tempo and allowed her forehand to set a feverish pace. For the match, Bouchard posted 33 winners and committed 42 unforced errors.

Begu, who was projected to challenge Bouchard from the baseline appeared to be out-matched and overwhelmed by the strength of the Canadian. Throughout the first set, Begu struggled to generate placement variation and depth. With shots falling just beyond the service line, Bouchard was able to dictate points and dominate rallies.

“I always want to do better,” Bouchard said. “I’m always proud of the way I fight.”

While the first set took 28 minutes to complete, Bouchard looked to make quick work of her 42nd ranked opponent. However, the problems that plagued Begu disappeared and Bouchard found herself fighting for the chance to adavance to the quarterfinals.

Contrary to the first set, Begu provided depth and direction to her shots. Bouchard no longer played target practice, she now had to strike winners while on the move. Unbalanced and out of rhythm, Bouchard had lost control of the second set.

“I’m such a perfectionist,” Bouchard said. “I know I can play better tennis.”

Visibly angered, Bouchard slammed her tennis racquet on the ground as she fell behind five games to three. This moment of frustration was pivotal because Bouchard played with a heightened sense of aggression and greatly improved her foot work. Just as Begu adjusted her game, so did Bouchard. Increased movement allowed for Bouchard to set up forehands and create offensive angles to attack. However, the foot speed of Begu afforded her the ability to track Bouchard’s shots and extend points which led to 22 unforced errors in the second stanza.

In the deciding set, Bouchard and Begu exploited each others backhand. After trading forehands in the previous two sets, services games as well as rallies started with powerful shots to the backhand. The strategy appeared to work the backhand side and open the forehand end for potential winners. This tactic proved to be effective for Bouchard as it forced Begu off the court and out of contention. Up 5-2 and one game away from the quarterfinals, Bouchard’s had to serve out the contest and prove her ability to close out close matches. After two hours and six minutes, the Eugenie Army cheered in triumph as Bouchard closed out the contest and advanced to week two of the Australian Open.

Aside from facing an unfamiliar opponent, Bouchard also had the challenge of competing without a coach.

“I’ve learned that I need to trust myself” Bouchard said. “I need to believe in myself and I can go really far if I put in the hard work.”

Bouchard will face Maria Sharapova in the quarterfinals. Sharapova rolled past Peng Shuai in her match, 6-3, 6-0.

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