Russian born, recently naturalised Aussie Daria Gavrilova was the toast of Melbourne on Day 5, the youngster outlasting French seed Kristina Mladenovic 11-9 in the deciding set to claim one of the biggest wins of her fledgling career.
Day 5 Recap
Top seed Serena Williams indicated she was approaching top form on Day 5, hammering young Russian Daria Kasatkina 6-1 6-1 in their third round clash. Great rival Maria Sharapova also advanced, overcoming a mid-match hiccup to defeat Lauren Davis and set up an enticing clash with rising Swiss star Belinda Bencic.
Roberta Vinci joined Mladenovic in exiting the tournament on Day 5, but there were no problems for fellow seeds Agnieszka Radwanska and Carla Suarez Navarro, each of whom booked a spot in the round of 16.
In the men’s tournament, local hope Nick Kyrgios went down to former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych in 4 sets, the Czech player setting up a showdown with the Spaniard Bautista Agut, who upset Croatia’s Marin Cilic. Roger Federer outclassed Grigor Dimitrov in 4 sets and will next face David Goffin, after the Belgian defeated Dominic Thiem in 4 sets.
Top seed Novak Djokovic defeated Andreas Seppi in straight sets and will now play Gilles Simon for a place in the quarter-finals, whilst Kei Nishikori and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will square off after defeating Garcia-Lopez and Herbert respectively.
Matches of the Day – Day 6
1. Lukas Rosol vs. Stanislas Wawrinka
Lukas Rosol rose to prominence by beating Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon, but the lanky Czech player isn’t just a big server, as he showed in ousting Jack Sock in the second round.
Rosol has worked on the other elements of his game, but to be frank he is still no match for Wawrinka from the baseline. To win, Rosol will need to serve well, keep the points short and go for broke on the Wawrinka service games. The Swiss seed has played well in Melbourne in the last few years and I think he will dictate play in this one. Wawrinka in 4.
2. Madison Keys vs. Ana Ivanovic
This should be an intriguing clash between rising star Keys and former world number one Ivanovic. The Serb is a former finalist at Melbourne Park and also knocked Serena Williams out of the tournament a couple of years ago, so it’s clear she likes playing on the Melbourne Park hard-courts.
Keys and Ivanovic are both powerful shotmakers, and so in many respects the outcome depends on who executes better on the day. That said, I think Keys is more athletic and is a better defender than her opponent. For this reason, I’ll back the American to come out on top. Keys in 3.
3. Feliciano Lopez vs. John Isner
This match pits one big server against another big server, but they are actually very different players. Isner is a right-hander who likes to pummel serves and swat his forehand around. Lopez is a leftie who likes to use angles and slices and is very much at ease at the net.
Isner is the higher ranked player, but I think Lopez has the style of game which troubles Isner and I suspect the American will find it hard to combat Lopez’s game plan in this one. I’ll back the Spaniard to come through in a tight one. Lopez in 5.
4. Angelique Kerber vs. Madison Brengle
Madison Brengle announced herself to the tennis world with a strong run at Melbourne Park last year, and the American will be looking to replicate that performance again this year.
Brengle, however, faces an enormous challenge in the form of Angelique Kerber, who has been one of the most consistent performers on the WTA Tour in the last 12 months. Kerber has started 2016 in similar fashion, making the final in Brisbane in the lead-up to the year’s first major. I think the German will be too consistent and too powerful in this one. Kerber in 2.
5. Milos Raonic vs. Viktor Troicki
Big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic has looked good in his opening couple of matches, dismissing former top 10 player Tommy Robredo in straight sets in his second round match. Raonic will be looking to go deep into the second week of the tournament as he looks to improve on the sole Grand Slam semi-final appearance of his career to date, which took place at Wimbledon in 2014.
This is a danger match for Raonic, with Troicki a big hitter and a player in form, having successfully defended his Sydney International title last week with an impressive win in the final over Grigor Dimitrov. I think Raonic’s serve will get him through in a tight and scrappy encounter. Raonic in 5.
Put your house on: Andy Murray. The second seed will be far too strong for his Portguese opponent Joao Sousa today.
Upset alert: As noted above, I think Feliciano Lopez will get the better of his higher-seeded opponent, John Isner, when they square off today.
Likely to go the distance: I’m predicting a long one in the all-French encounter between Gael Monfils and Stephane Robert.
That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow. In the meantime, you can follow all of the action on Twitter: @satelliteserve.