Before each day's play at the Australian Open, we'll preview and predict three must-see matches.


Going by their head-to-head record, this should be an easy call. Kerber leads 6-1, and she has won their last three meetings, all on hard courts, in routine, straight-set fashion. The German is also playing with a renewed passion and patience at the moment, both of which have largely been missing over the last 12 months.

Is there any reason to think that Keys can stop her? Yes. The American has rolled through the draw so far without dropping a set, and has averaged just over an hour on court in each match. In her last one, she encountered almost no resistance from the No. 8 seed, Carolina Garcia. As for those three losses to Kerber, they all took place in 2016, when Kerber was No. 1, or on her way to No. 1, in the world. And while the 2016 Aussie Open champ obviously likes the courts on Melbourne, Keys does, too; she made her own breakthrough run to the semis there three years ago. This match, which could be a final, is a toss-up. Winner: Keys

Can Roger Federer maintain his dominance against Tomas Berdych?

Can Roger Federer maintain his dominance against Tomas Berdych?


The 32-year-old Berdych may be the surprise of the tournament. Coming to Australia, there was little to make anyone believe he had a quarterfinal run in him. This perennial Top Tenner was down to No. 19 in the rankings, and he had lost his only match of 2018. But not only has Berdych made the second week, he hasn’t dropped a set along the way. In beating Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 6-3, 6-2, Berdych, his hair long again and his cap on backwards, looked as relaxed and grooved as he ever has—if he’s having a mid-life crisis, it’s working for him.

Now for the big question: Can Berdych remain that relaxed and grooved against Federer? He’s 6-19 against the No. 2 seed, and has lost their last eight meetings dating back to 2013. It was Federer who knocked Berdych out at the Australian Open and Wimbledon last year. It will probably be Federer, who also hasn’t dropped a set in Oz so far, who will knock him out here as well. Winner: Federer

Like Kerber-Keys, this meeting between the No. 1 seed and the No. 6 seed has a Grand Slam final feel to it. Halep and Pliskova have each lost heartbreakingly tight major finals in the last 18 months—Pliskova at the US Open, and Halep at the French Open—and both would love to take their chance at this Serena-less Slam to win their first.

Halep leads their head to head 5-2, and that includes their latest meeting on hard courts, at the 2016 Rogers Cup. Like Caroline Wozniacki on the other side of the draw, Halep seems to be playing with a new lease on life after saving match points against Lauren Davis in the third round. But Pliskova has also won two tight matches in a row. If she’s hitting her shots, and has the patience to hit a lot of them, she’ll win this one, too. Winner: Pliskova

Watch Madison Keys take on Angelique Kerber in the Australian Open quarterfinals—LIVE on Tennis Channel 7 p.m. ET