Australian Open picks for Wednesday, January 28

Rod Laver Arena / Day

18-Venus Williams v Madison Keys
Williams wasn’t afraid at the age of 19 in 2000 and she’s still out there, now at the age of 34. She still believes in her Grand Slam ability. She won her last Slam at 2008, which is a long time ago, but she still keeps trying to add new things. Her forehand has improved, especially when moving to her left and cracking her shot down the line. She may have slowed down a bit but she has confidence that she can take over at the net and put away her volleys. Williams says she is happy with her life right now.

We know that Venus will play reasonably well, but will Keys? The 19-year-old is hitting super hard, especially with her first serve and her forehand. She hasn’t been around for years, but she battling in the pros for the past three years now and has settled in. She is showing more confidence and at least over the past 10 days, she hasn’t lost her head.

Keys might become nervous, but not yet. She is pretty determined and thinks she can out hit her elder. It’s a tossup, but I will take Keys in three sets.

Last year's finalist Cibulkova has a big test.Photo: Mal Taam/MALTphoto

Last year’s finalist Cibulkova has a big test.
Photo: Mal Taam/MALTphoto

1-Serena Williams v 11-Dominic Cibulkova
Serena has started very slowly. But no matter, you can win in three sets and that is what she did over Garbine Muguruza. However, Cibulkova is playing very well again, hitting forehands side to side and kissing the lines. Domi can take anyway one if she is on a role, or she could go down to anyone if she is emotionally down.

In this quarterfinal, Cibulkova will try to jump on her returns and control the match. But unless she mixes up her serves and backhands, Serena will knock her out quickly. Serena knows that she can’t start slowly again or one of the better players can stun her. She knows that, which is why she will beat at Domi’s to a punch and knock her out in straight sets.

4-Stan Wawrinka v 5-Kei Nishikori
Is this going to five sets again? Why not? The two played five sets in the US Open, when Nishikori got him at 6-4 in the fifth. It was darn close, but the Japanese hit a bit harder at the end and was more confident – that time.

Will it be the same, or will it change? Not much. Now in Australia Wawrinka thinks he can out think him and change it up. But that does not mean that he has gotten better than Kei has since last May until now? Nishikori has everything: speed, forehands and backhands, aggressive style and a much better volley. Wawrinka will push him for three hours plus, but in the end the 25-year-old Nishikori will take him out, winning in five emotional sets.

Rod Laver Arena / Night

1-Novak Djokovic v 8-Milos Raonic
The Canadian Raonic is ready to play ball. His serve is massive, he hits his forehand as hard as anyone and he doesn’t mind charging up to the set. But Djokovic is almost perfect – again. So few players can even get a set, much less a win. He is so steady and so relentless. It’s hard to find where to attack him because he will take it from anywhere and turn it around.

Yes, Raonic can serve gigantic and take him into the tiebreaks, but how is he going to get into his head? Yes, Djokovic has disappeared at times in the past two years (like in the 2014 US semis) but that is extremely rare. It may occur in the semis this week, or in the final, but not in the quarters against Raonic, as Novak can see the Canadian in his sites. Djokovic will win in four sets.

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