2016 Australian Open: What to watch on Day 6

The third round action continues on Day 6 of the 2016 Australian Open as players in the bottom half of both the men’s and the women’s draw seek a place in the second week of the Slam. The explosive battle of Ana Ivanovic and Madison Keys headlines Saturday’s schedule. There are many other enthralling matches in store.Here’s our pick of the must-watch matches on Day 6:

#1 (15) Madison Keys vs (20) Ana Ivanovic

This is the match of the day. Both Ana Ivanovic and Madison Keys have fantastic records at the Australian Open with the former being the 2008 runner-up and the latter reaching the semi-finals last year.

They have met only once – on the claycourts of Madrid in 2014 which the 28-year-old Serb won in straight sets. But it is to be noted that Ivanovic was in the midst of her banner year then and Keys, then 19, was still developing her game. Nearly two years later, this battle will be an exhilarating one and each will be trying to get the early advantage with her devastating forehand.

While Keys is short of match practice having suffered from a freak injury in the lead-up to the season’s first Slam, Ivanovic has struggled and slumped to two losses in 2016. If she can maintain her composure till the end, the spirited Keys might just grab the win in the end.

#2 (9) Karolina Pliskova vs (21) Ekaterina Makarova

This match was played last year in the very same round where Makarova won 6-4, 6-4. The same stage, the same players..will the outcome be exactly the same?

A lot has changed since that meeting. The 23-year-old Czech has slowly climbed up the higher echelons as 2015 turned out to be her career-best season with one title and five runner-up finishes. She is a lot more confident now and is self-admittedly not intimidated by the big stage. As for Makarova, this is one of her most successful Slams where she reached the semis last year and also famously upset Serena Williams in 2012.

The Russian had an injury-marred end of season but has so far been impressive at the Australian Open. Pliskova can turn this around if she can get her serves going but if she allows Makarova’s lefty forehands to take control, it might end up the same way just like last year.

UPDATE: Pliskova has since bowed out

#3 (13) Milos Raonic vs (21) Viktor Troicki

It can’t get better than this – two of the men’s titlists in the lead-up to the Australian Open will be locking horns in the third round. While World No. 14 Milos Raonic announced his return to form by beating Roger Federer for the Brisbane title, Troicki successfully defended his Sydney crown.

Raonic is the higher seed and should be favoured, especially with a 2-1 edge over the Serb. His serve is once again looking lethal and he has not been broken throughout the 2016 Australian Open. That might be a cause of worry for Troicki who had to go the extra mile in his opener, coming back from two match points down to beat Daniel Munoz De La Nava in five sets.

Having said that, Troicki can never be counted out and he has a propensity of playing long matches in Slams. Chances are even and it will be interesting to watch if Troicki can actually manage to make in-roads into the famed Raonic serve.

#4 (10) John Isner vs (18) Feliciano Lopez

This should be an intriguing match-up between two big servers. Feliciano Lopez came through a five-setter in his second round match, four of whose sets were tie-breaks. There’s every possibility that he will be involved in few more tie-breaks with John Isner in this clash.

The two are tied 3-3 in their head-to-head record and just two out of those six meetings did not feature a tie-break. Lopez has to remember that the longer this match goes on, the more vulnerable he will be. Isner has finished both his rounds so far in straight sets while the Spaniard’s energy-sapping five-setter from the previous round can prove to be detrimental for him if this match stretches.

#5 Indian interest

Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis, who are on a 31-match winning streak, continue their quest for their maiden Australian Open title as they lock horns with Lyudmyla Kichenok and Nadiia Kichenok in the second round on Saturday.

Mirza also begins her campaign in mixed doubles. Alongside Ivan Dodig, she will take on the Aussie pair of Nick Kyrgios and Ajla Tomljanovic.

The junior competition also gets under way where India has two players playing on Day 6. 10th seed Pranjala Yadlapalli is up against Mayuka Aikawa of Japan while the unseeded Karman Kaur Thandi will square off against 11th seed Priscilla Hon of Australia.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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