Switzerland’s Roger Federer celebrates after defeating United States’ Taylor Fritz during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Switzerland’s Roger Federer celebrates after defeating United States’ Taylor Fritz during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)|(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Tennis

Tennis: 6 picks for the Australian Open Men’s Round of 16

The young guns are coming on strong, but the Old Guard is still stronger

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

2019 Australian Open
Round of 16 - Men

Djokovic over Medvedev
Going into this tournament I thought that a couple of the young kids would bust through and take over the game. Well, I was wrong. A combination of things including surprisingly cool weather and an interesting draw has made the Big Three stand out, but the main reason they stand out is that they each came to play. Medvedev has had a great tournament and is clearly part of the sport’s future, but Djokovic has looked primed. The Joker makes everything look easy, and while he deals with Medvedev’s dynamic game, he’s going to make his win look easy too.

Carreno Busta over Nishikori
Nishikori has been the escape artist, the Houdini, if you will, of this tournament. He has found himself close to defeat twice—against Karlovic and Majchrzak, where he was down two sets to none to both, and managed to wiggle out wins. He’s got to be tired, and his magic may be over. I think Carreno Busta, who has already had a career tournament, will busta out, and will reach a Major Quarterfinal for only the third time in his career. He seems to like the surface, and the new Dunlop balls that they’re using this year only help his game of strength, consistency and patience. This may be bloody, but will be fun to watch.

Zverev over Raonic
I’m ready to salivate over this match. Zverev is flashy, stylish, and flamboyant while also a really terrific player. Raonic is one of the best servers in the game and can beat anyone at any time. I’m picking Zverev simply because I think it’s his time. Although he won the ATP Tour championship last year over The Joker, he hasn’t really put it all together at a Grand Slam, having reached only one quarterfinal in his career. Then again, he’s only 21 years old. That ends now.

Coric over Pouille
Pouille is in the Fourth Round only after beating Popyrin, the Australian wild card who sleighed Thiem in the second round, in a very tight five setter yesterday. His run should be over as he’s running into Borna Coric, a 22-year-old Croatian who is playing the best tennis of his career. Pouille has to be at least a bit fatigued, but Coric is as fresh as can be, having lost only one set along the way. I don’t think Pouille has enough weapons in his arsenal to stop the galloping Coric from making his first Grand Slam Quarterfinal.

Federer over Tsitsipas
Pull up your chair and get ready to “ooh” and “ahh” as these two classic showmen take the court. Tsitsipas is clearly part of the future of Men’s tennis, and Federer is the past. But I’d argue that Federer is also the present. He’s played as well as he has at any time in the past three years and although there may be a lot of flash and shot making from both sides here, Fed is the better player and will prevail.

Dimitrov over Tiafoe
We’re at the part of the tournament where everyone who is still in it is a fantastic player. That’s certainly true here. Tiafoe broke through by besting Seppi in five grueling sets, and is also part of the future of Men’s tennis. But Dimitrov has been waiting for this chance for a few years now, and after a disappointing year in 2018 when he came into this tournament as the #3 seed and lost in the quarters, he’s ready to take advantage of the opportunity this year. He’s been to the semis of both the Australian Open and Wimbledon before, so this occasion won’t daunt him. Tiafoe will push him, but my money’s on Dimitrov.

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