Australian Open 2013 Issue 5: 18 January
January 17, 2013 · Print This Article
by: Tom Cochrane
Petra Kvitova became the biggest casualty of the 2013 Australian Open to date, succumbing to rising star Laura Robson in a gripping 3-set night match on Day 4. The Czech star appeared to be coasting at 3-0 in the third set, but Robson dug deep to eventually prevail 11-9 in the decider.
Day 4 Recap
It was not a good day for the Czech Republic, holders of the Federation Cup, as Kvitova’s compatriot and seventeenth seed Lucie Safarova was also knocked out of the tournament.
There were no such dramas for big guns Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka. Williams showed no signs of discomfort after hurting her ankle in her previous match, dropping just 2 games for the match. The American’s biggest problem was self-inflicted, as she accidentally hit herself in the mouth with her racquet. Azarenka avoided any such self-harm and was even more parsimonious, allowing her opponent a single game for the match.
Also making the third round on Day 4 were seeds Maria Kirilenko, who beat China’s Shuai Peng, and 42 year old Kimiko Date-Krumm who turned back the clock to hold off Shahar Peer.
On the men’s side, young gun Bernard Tomic set up another showdown with Roger Federer at Melbourne Park, grinding his way past Daniel Brands in 4 sets on a brutally warm day. Federer was all class as he swept past the former world number 3, Russian Nikolay Davydenko, in straight sets, an early break in each set setting up the win.
Other seeds to progress on Day 4 included Juan Martin Del Potro, Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Milos Raonic, Marin Cilic, Richard Gasquet and Andreas Seppi. Florian Mayer and Marcel Granollers were not so lucky, exiting the tournament, but it was fabulous to see the dynamic Frenchman Gael Monfils score a fighting win over Yen-Hsun Lu, the former top 10 player scraping through 8-6 in the fifth set.
Matches of the Day – Day 5
1. Maria Sharapova vs. Venus Williams
The first blockbuster match on the women’s side of this year’s Australian Open sees second seed Maria Sharapova up against the 7-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams. The elder Williams has now reached official veteran status on the WTA Tour, and is no longer in her prime, but she can still cause plenty of trouble on the court, especially if her serve is firing.
Sharapova has started this tournament in amazing form, scoring successive 6-0 6-0 wins, so Williams will do well initially to simply score a few games off the Russian. Sharapova, who has been promoting her Sugarpova line of candies in Melbourne, could take some business tips off Williams, who has her own fashion line, but in this clash I favour the Russian to take care of the on-court business. Sharapova in 3.
2. Li Na vs. Sorana Cirstea
Li Na obviously enjoys playing at Melbourne Park, having made the final here in 2011, an experience she says greatly assisted her in lifting the French Open trophy a few months later in Paris. The Chinese superstar has had a topsy-turvy record since that historic Grand Slam win, but seems to be returning to her best form, defeating Azarenka in Thailand in the lead-up to this tournament.
Cirstea is a powerful hitter from the back of the court, and is not afraid to take down the big names, having dismissed Sam Stosur from her home Grand Slam a year ago. I think Li Na is the more consistent of the pair, but if the Romanian hits her stride she could do some damage. Na in 3.
3. Novak Djokovic vs. Radek Stepanek
If anyone thought veteran Radek Stepanek was past his best, they only needed to watch the final rubber of last year’s Davis Cup final. With the tie locked at 2-2, the wily Czech summoned all of his reserves and experience to take down world number 11 Nicolas Almagro to give his nation their first Davis Cup win since becoming the Czech Republic.
The Davis Cup performance demonstrated that Stepanek still has the desire, and the ability, to perform at the highest level. With a good draw, I think Stepanek could have stolen a round of 16 or quarter-final berth, but to be frank he has run into a dead-end against the top seed. Djokovic was in irresistible form against Ryan Harrison in round 2, and I don’t see Stepanek faring much better. The Czech will give it everything, but Djokovic should be far too good. Djokovic in 3.
4. Tomas Berdych vs. Jurgen Melzer
Tomas Berdych was Stepanek’s partner in crime in bringing the Davis Cup trophy to the Czech Republic and the fifth seed is hoping that the experience will stand him in good stead as he attempts to claim a maiden Grand Slam title in 2013. A former finalist at Wimbledon and a semi-finalist at last year’s US Open, Berdych has all the tools to be a major champion, he just needs to maintain a high level for 7 successive matches.
Left-hander Jurgen Melzer is always a tricky opponent, and like Berdych is a former French Open semi-finalist. The Austrian has a serve that is difficult to get a handle on, but I think Berdych should be too powerful from the back of the court for Melzer. Berdych in 4.
5. Ana Ivanovic vs. Jelena Jankovic
The encounter pits Serbia’s two biggest female stars against one another. Jankovic is a former world number one, as is Ivanovic, but it is Ivanovic who alone has experience the ultimate glory at Grand Slam level. Ivanovic struggled for a couple of years after winning at Roland Garros, but she now seems to be fitter and more confident than she has been for a considerable time.
Jankovic has always been a pugnacious counter-puncher, but Ivanovic has a better serve and more weaponry, her punishing forehand being her biggest asset. It’s never easy playing your compatriot, but I’ll back Ivanovic to prevail. Ivanovic in 3.
Put your house on: Fourth seed Agnieskza Radwanska to gallop past Britain’s Heather Watson. Watson is no slouch, having ended a long drought amongst British women players last year by claiming the Japan Open title – the first British female to win a singles title in 24 years. But Radwanska is unbeaten in 2013 and should progress with relative ease.
Upset alert: I think big-serving American Sam Querrey could roll his higher-seeded opponent Stanislas Wawrinka, whilst Julien Benneteau might get the better of the unpredictable Janko Tipsarevic, who has already had to survive two testing encounters.
Likely to go the distance: Kevin Anderson made the final in Sydney last week, and I suspect the lanky South African will push Spanish seed Fernando Verdasco all the way in their match today.
That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow.