Monday, January 26, 2004 Updated: January 27, 7:35 AM ET
Federer might not beat Nalbandian
By MaliVai Washington Special to ESPN.com
MELBOURNE, Australia -- It's been a while since the top four seeds reached the quarterfinals of a major. Making it more exciting is that you can make a huge argument that each of the top four seeds is playing well enough to win the title.
Hicham Arazi, Morocco, vs. Juan Carlos Ferrero (3), Spain
Hicham Arazi never ceases to amaze. He seems to be one of those players who has more than one life in him. Arazi unexpectedly and unbelievably destroyed tenth-seeded Mark Philippoussis on Monday.
Arazi's match with Juan Carlos Ferrero will be his biggest challenge because Ferrero can show him more pace off the ground than Arazi's seen in this tournament. If somehow Arazi does manage to win, he'll be the first Moroccan to reach a Grand Slam semifinal. But it's Ferrero's year to show he can win a major on something other than clay. Pick: FerreroDavid Nalbandian (8), Argentina, vs. Roger Federer (2), Switzerland
David Nalbandian has yet to lose a set in the championship and holds a 5-1 record over Roger Federer. Of all of the great quarterfinal matchups, this one will be the best.
They both place balls tremendously well from the back of the court. That means Federer will need to be even more patient than he was against Hewitt. But Federer won't win this match from the baseline; he has to get in and finish off points. Nalbandian has the mental edge because he owns the record over Federer, including beating Federer last year in this championship.
The quality we saw from Federer against Hewitt is some of the best tennis that will be played in 2004 by anyone. Even so, this match is too close to call. The winner of this match will most likely get through to the final, and it really wouldn't be surprising if the winner of this match wins this championship. Pick: Too close to callMaliVai Washington, a tennis analyst for ESPN, reached the 1996 Wimbledon final.