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Ricky’s picks for Day 9 of the Australian Open, including Khachanov vs. Korda

A mostly surprising quarterfinal lineup in the top half of the draw will be featured at the Australian Open on Tuesday. Karen Khachanov is going up against Sebastian Korda, while Stefanos Tsitsipas takes on unseeded Jiri Lehecka.

Here are my previews and picks for the two matchups.

(18) Karen Khachanov vs. (29) Sebastian Korda

Khachanov and Korda will be squaring off for the fourth time in their careers when they collide in the Australian Open quarterfinals on Tuesday. Their only previous Grand Slam meeting will not soon be forgotten; Khachanov prevailed 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 10-8 after the two men broke each other 19 times throughout the match–including 13 times in the fifth set alone. Korda took their next two encounters in straight sets last season; 6-3, 6-4 at the Cincinnati Masters and 7-5, 7-6(9) on the indoor hard courts of Antwerp.

The 22-year-old American will also be encouraged by his current form; he finished-runner up to Novak Djokovic a couple of weeks ago in Adelaide (even had a championship point) and is now coming off consecutive victories over Daniil Medvedev and Hubert Hurkacz. Unfortunately for Korda, he needed five sets and almost three and a half hours to get past Hurkacz on Monday afternoon. Khachanov, on the other hand, routed Yoshihito Nishioka 6-0, 6-0, 7-6(4) in round four. The world No. 20 has quarterfinal slam-winning experience too, having just made a run to the 2022 U.S. Open quarterfinals. Korda is unlikely to win this easily, and in another long, hard-fought battle it is Khachanov should have both the physical and mental edge.

Pick: Khachanov in 5

(3) Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. Jiri Lehecka

With no other top-17 seed still alive in the top half of the bracket, Tsitsipas is a considerable favorite to reach the final and he certainly has a decent chance to capture his first Grand Slam title. Getting to the quarterfinals wasn’t easy, however, as the third seed held off Jannik Sinner 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3 on Monday night. That result was preceded by straight-set defeats of Quentin Halys, Rinky Hijikata, and Tallon Griekspoor.

Up next for Tsitsipas on Tuesday is Lehecka, who pushed the Greek to three sets last year in Rotterdam before falling 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. The 21-year-old Czech finished runner-up at the NextGen ATP Finals this past fall, won four matches in his first two events this season, and booked his spot in the Aussie Open quarters by beating Borna Coric (6-3, 6-3, 6-3), Chris Eubanks, Cameron Norrie (in five sets), and Felix Auger-Aliassime. Lehecka clearly isn’t afraid of the big stage and his game has no obvious weaknesses, so this could be more competitive than many are expecting. That being said, Tsitsipas is playing too well and has too much experience at the business end of slams.

Pick: Tsitsipas in 4

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.