Australian Open 2013 Issue 6: 19 January

January 18, 2013 · Print This Article

by: Tom Cochrane

Maria Sharapova came out on top in her blockbuster clash with Venus Williams on Day 5, dismissing the 7-time Grand Slam champion for the loss of just 4 games to book a spot in the fourth round.

Day 5 Recap

Having gone into the tournament under a bit of an injury cloud due to her withdrawal from the warm-up tournament in Brisbane, Sharapova now looks like one of the tournament favourites after racking up 3 wins for the loss of just 4 games in total. Polish fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska was similarly impressive, defeating Heather Watson in straight sets.

Other winners on the women’s side on Day 5 included Ana Ivanovic, a straight sets winner over countrywoman Jelena Jankovic, Li Na, who saw off the dangerous Sorana Cirstea, and fifth seed Angelique Kerber. Sam Stosur’s conqueror Jie Zheng was unable to replicate her heroics against German Julie Goerges, succumbing in 3 sets, while the Russian Makarova scored an upset win over eleventh seed and former Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli.

In the men’s tournament, Novak Djokovic’s charge towards a third successive Australian Open crown continued to gather steam, the Serbian downing Czech veteran Radek Stepanek in straight sets. Joining the top seed in the round of 16 on Day 5 was David Ferrer, who saw off the challenge of Marcos Baghdatis, Tomas Berdych, who looked sharp in his win over Jurgen Melzer, and Kei Nishikori, who kept his legion of Japanese fans happy with a straight sets win.

Big-serving South African Kevin Anderson overcame some injury concerns to outlast Spanish seed Fernando Verdasco in a brutal 5-setter, while Verdasco’s higher-ranked compatriot Nicolas Almagro fared better, taking down the Pole Janowicz. Swiss veteran Stanislas Wawrinka also booked his spot in the fourth round, overcoming America’s Sam Querrey in 3 sets.

Matches of the Day – Day 6

1. Roger Federer vs. Bernard Tomic

There’s no denying that Bernard Tomic is on a tear at the moment, the young Aussie bouncing back from a sluggish finish to 2012 and ignoring controversy over his commitment to the Australian Davis Cup team by defeating all his opponents at the Hopman Cup in Perth (including Novak Djokovic) and then claiming the title in Sydney for his first ATP Tour crown.

The young Aussie seems to love playing at Melbourne Park, having performed very well here in the last two years and only being stopped by none other than Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer himself. Tomic managed to pinch a set against the Swiss star in their first encounter (a Davis Cup tie on grass in Australia), but Federer was always in control in the pair’s clash at Melbourne Park last year. Tomic is full of confidence and has nothing to lose, but Federer will be ready for this encounter. I think Tomic can steal a set if he plays to his potential, but I don’t see him inflicting any more damage than that. Federer in 4.

2. Gilles Simon vs. Gael Monfils

Fourteenth seed Gilles Simon today meets fellow Frenchman Gael Monfils, a former top 10 player who is trying to re-establish himself in the men’s game after injury problems halted his progress in 2012. At his best, Monfils is attacking, flamboyant, unpredictable and thoroughly exciting to watch (although I imagine he would be very frustrating to coach). Simon is less enigmatic, relying on his court movement, powers of anticipation and smooth stroke to take down stronger and more powerful players.

At his best, I would say that Monfils has the firepower to upset Simon, but Monfils is still a while away from his best tennis and may be fatigued after his gruelling 5-set win in the previous win. Simon will be the steadier of the two, so in many ways it’s a case of how aggressive Monfils plays and how well he executes his shots. I’ll take the fourteenth seed in a tight 4-setter. Simon in 4.

3. Milos Raonic vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber

Big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic burst onto the world tennis scene by working his way from the qualifying tournament at the 2011 Australian Open and making it all the way through to the round of 16. Since then, Raonic has suffered some injury setbacks but has nonetheless established himself as a member of the world’s top 20 and enters this tournament as the thirteenth seed.

Raonic, to be frank, tightened up significantly in his clash with Lleyton Hewitt at Melbourne Park last year and will be determined to put in a better performance this time around. Kohlschreiber is a terrific player and has performed well in Australia in the past. The German will look to dictate the play from the back of the court, but Raonic’s giant serve should give him the edge. Raonic in 5.

4. Andreas Seppi vs. Marin Cilic

This clash between seeds Andreas Seppi and Marin Cilic should go down to the wire, with both players capable of notching up a victory. Cilic is a former semi-finalist at Melbourne Park, having made it through to the final 4 in 2010, where he lost to Andy Murray. And Seppi has also proved his ability to match it with the very best, having had Novak Djokovic on the ropes in Paris last year when he led the world number one by 2 sets to love. Seppi lost that match but gained plenty of admirers in the process.

Cilic is the bigger hitter of the pair, but Seppi is probably the more consistent and steady player. I’ll back the Croatian on the basis of his good record at Melbourne Park but I anticipate this match taking several hours to complete. Cilic in 5.

5. Juan Martin Del Potro vs. Jeremy Chardy

Former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro has flown under the radar so far at Melbourne Park this year, working his way into the third round without too much attention or too much trouble. The hard-hitting Argentine has been anointed by none other than Roger Federer as a future world number one, and is certainly capable of winning more Grand Slams if he stays injury-free.

Jeremy Chardy has never impressed me much, but to be fair the Frenchman did have some good wins last year, particularly during the North American hard-court swing in the lead-up to the US Open. He also knocked out Spanish seed Marcel Granollers in the previous round. To my mind, though, Del Potro has an abundance of weapons at his disposal, whereas the Frenchman doesn’t have anything to hurt the Argentine with. That points to a straightforward win for Del Potro. Del Potro in 3.

Put your house on: Top seed Victoria Azarenka to show little mercy against her American opponent Jamie Hampton in their third-round clash today. Hampton will do well if she can make the score-line respectable.

Upset alert: Having claimed some big scalps at last year’s US Open (including that of Kim Clijsters), Laura Robson has already racked up one giant scalp at Melbourne Park this year, upsetting Petra Kvitova in a 3-set thriller. If the young Brit can recover sufficiently from that marathon match, I fancy her chances of taking down American seed Sloane Stephens.

Likely to go the distance: Belgian Yanina Wickmayer, the twentieth seed in the women’s tournament, takes on Russian fourteenth seed Maria Kirilenko today for a spot in the round of 16. I’ll back the Russian to prevail, but she will have to earn the victory against the talented Wickmayer.

That’s it for today. I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow.

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