MELBOURNE, Australia -- We're already down to eight players in each draw, but the permutations remain vast.
Will Djoker play Rafa in the final? Will Sharapova get another shot at Serena? What about players such as Tomas Berdych and Ekaterina Makarova, both of whom are dominating? Will they find themselves alive when the finals roll around?
There are a total of 32 possible championships matchups when you combine both tours. And we understand that it's an ambitious ask to believe that you, or anyone else for that matter, could forecast the respective finales. But that's where we come in.
We've created our first Australian Open quarterfinal Power Rankings based on a sophisticated algorithm that, for the sake of this article, we'll call stream of thought.
Herewith, the results:
1. Novak Djokovic: What can you say about someone who has played four matches, won all four in straight sets -- and isn't even playing his best tennis? That's Djokovic in a nutshell thus far, though he did take apart Gilles Muller in the fourth round with 47 winners and only 16 unforced errors. The Serb is a four-time champ here, and a fifth seems well within reason. And we sure hope that's the case. In his pre-Aussie presser, Djokovic handed out candy to the media. Imagine what he'll give us if he wins.
2. Maria Sharapova: True story: I always thought the ubiquitous "Can you hear me now?" commercials were an advertiser's strategy to sell Maria Sharapova bobble heads. My apologies to Verizon, but seriously, the screaming narrative that's been going on for years will likely last until Sharapova finds a new gig. To be fair, though, the fact remains that Sharapova's racket has been making the most noise in her past two matches, dropping just five total games. But next up is Eugenie Bouchard, who seems destined to break through, and soon. Sharapova does hold a 3-0 record against the Canadian, though they haven't played on hard courts in nearly two years.
3. Andy Murray: On a chilly evening on Rod Laver Arena, a hot-tempered Murray was busy taking care of Grigor Dimitrov -- a win that went a long way in validating his form after a subpar 2014. After the match, Murray hinted there's a possibility he might not only sport a kilt to his wedding but do so without wearing underpants. Sketchy. For Murray, he now not only has to face ultra-talented Nick Kyrgios in the quarters but deal with the Aussie's fervent fans as well. The winner of that match would likely get Rafa in the final four.
4. Kei Nishikori: How many players have fleet enough feet to make David Ferrer look slow? The answer is one, and he's Japan's most recognizable athlete. Nishikori bushwhacked Ferrer to reach the Aussie quarters. Next up is Stan Wawrinka, who wins quite differently -- by pounding the ball down your throat. Against Ferrer, Nishikori won 50 of 80 points in rallies that went five shots or more. You have to imagine that number will go up against Stan.
5. Serena Williams: The world No. 1 says she wants this title more than anyone else, which doesn't exactly explain why she's lost the first set in each of her past two matches. Maybe that's a product of being 33 years old. Just ask Roger Federer, though it should be pointed out that he lost the first, second and fourth sets in his last match. At one point against Garbine Muguruza, Serena had a coughing fit, which she attributed to a cold. Serena has five Aussie titles but none since 2010, her longest drought of the four majors. Still, she is Serena Williams. And that's all we really need to say about that.
6. Rafael Nadal: Before the tournament began, Nadal insisted he wasn't one of the favorites, which is jargon for gamesmanship. Granted, Nadal had to mount a comeback to get by American Tim Smyczek. But since then, the 14-time Grand Slam champ has been hitting the ball with more aplomb, and everything has been going his way. Matter of fact, the only miscue since Smyczek was when one of Nadal's water bottles blew over on the court, which must have given famously OCD Spaniard a few convulsions. Nadal takes on Berdych in the quarters and, assuming he wins, the Murray-Kyrgios winner in the semis.
7. Stan Wawrinka: I often wonder how many Grand Slam titles Federer would have if he had Stan's backhand. That thing is nasty. Wawrinka is coming off a heavyweight fight against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, one in which the Swiss won in four taut sets. Wawrinka, of course, is the defending champ here, and before Garcia-Lopez, Wawrinka had yet to drop a set. You get the feeling that Stan's result here is going to be determined by his racket. No one is going to out-hit him. Just ask Djokovic and Nadal, both of whom fell to Wawrinka last year.
8. Ekaterina Makarova: Makarova is a lot like Russian counterpart Maria Sharapova, except without the fame, fortune and hoopla. You might not know it, but Makarova is on to her third straight quarterfinal at a Grand Slam event. This 26-year-old has some serious chops. Even Sharapova herself said Makarova is "set up for some great success." While all the attention is going to be on the Sharapova-Bouchard clash Tuesday, Makarova's match against Simona Halep could be more entertaining. Something tells me she is going to go a lot further than people think.
9. Milos Raonic: How'd you like to have Milos Raonic's serve? We give him such a hard time for his underwhelming return, but when you're clocking 140 mph deliveries, we should probably give the guy a pass. And how'd you like to have Milos Raonic's hair? Wait, that's fodder for a different day, but it should be noted that after 3 hours, 5 minutes against Feliciano Lopez on Monday, not a strand was out of place. That's a good effort.
10. Madison Keys: Showing she was the better Madison, against Madison Brengle, is one thing, but the manner in which she played smashmouth ball is another. Keys now faces another smash-baller of sorts in Venus Williams. How old was Keys when Venus made her professional debut, you ask? Minus one. That's right, Keys didn't enter this world until 1995, which means she is just 19 years old. But there's a sneaking suspicion that Keys, who beat No. 4 Petra Kvitova earlier in this tournament, might have some of the success that Venus has had when all is said and done.
11. Venus Williams: The last time Venus reached the second week of a major, Federer was still winning Grand Slam titles. For the record, that was Wimbledon in 2011. But here she is, partying like it's 1999 and playing like she's 25 all over again. It's one thing to overpower No. 6 Agnieszka Radwanska, but quite another to out-move the much smaller Polish player. Here's a stat for you: Venus is 9-0 this season after winning a title in Auckland heading into Oz. Shall we just hand over the comeback player of the year now and call it a day? If Venus and Serena win their next matches they will play each other. Popcorn, anyone?
12. Eugenie Bouchard: The subplot could be as interesting as the match itself when Bouchard squares off against Sharapova. What will be louder, the Genie Army or Sharapova's wails? Bouchard spoke to her lack of focus in her last match, which is something that, if repeated, won't help her against the steely, unwavering Sharapova. Still, Bouchard has thrived in Grand Slam play, reaching three semis (or better) a season ago. Bouchard also calls herself a perfectionist, and if she can meet those lofty standards against Sharapova, the Canadian may very well be satisfied with the outcome. The winner of this blockbuster would face either Makarova or Simona Halep in the semis.
13. Tomas Berdych: If a player wins all four matches in straight sets and no one is there to talk about it, did said player really win all four matches in straight sets? The short answer is yes. The long answer also happens to be yes. Berdych, who appears content and happy on the court after a recent engagement, has been utterly dominant. He is on to the final eight for the fifth straight year here, but a tussle with Nadal looms. There's a feeling around the grounds that the Czech's straight-sets streak might come to an end.
14. Simona Halep: Last year, Halep garnered a lot of attention for her quick ascent. The Romanian firecracker reached the Aussie Open quarters, the French Open final and, surprisingly, landed in the final four at Wimbledon. Halep is just 5-foot-6 but plays a much bigger brand of ball. As she said in her last presser, like Bouchard, her wish is to be perfect, but that's not a realistic goal. It's a noble one, though. Halep has played Makarova just once, a win at the 2013 New Haven Open.
15. Nick Kyrgios: Legend has it that the 50-60 million reported kangaroos in Australia all had a little more bounce in their hop after their hometown showman came back from two sets down against Andreas Seppi on Sunday night. If Kyrgios were not an Aussie, he'd be widely condemned for his antics, but the truth is that Kyrgios is an Aussie, i.e., he's beloved down here. You'd be hard-pressed to find any pundit who doesn't believe this 19-year-old has top-five potential. He'll need to bring it against Murray, which will undoubtedly be an entertaining match. We can't say with 100 percent certainty who will win, but we can unequivocally, undeniably, positively tell you to put the children to bed, because given the players' past profanity-to-nice word ratio, things might get a little cranky out there.
16. Dominika Cibulkova: Quick, raise your hand if you remember who last year's 2014 Aussie Open runner-up was. Too late, it was Cibulkova. If you think Halep is short for a tennis player, she is Ivo Karlovic compared to this 5-3 Slovakian. Coming off a gutty three-set win against two-time champ Victoria Azarenka on Monday, Cibulkova said, "I have to compensate my height with something, so I just put a lot of energy in my tennis." You think? If there was an award for understatement of the tournament, this might take top billing. Here's the problem Cibulkova is going to run into in her next round, though: They call her Serena, Serena Williams, and for the record, she has six inches and 18 Grand Slam trophies on Cibulkova.