Day Three of the Australian Open saw some predicted results – Nole, Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova all going through, and some equally unexpected ones – Samantha Stosur losing after being two-breaks of serve up against Zheng Jie in the third set. After a day that saw blisteringly hot conditions, Day Four at the Melbourne Park promises to be even hotter, with a predicted 40 degrees Celsius on the mercury scale and with a certain selection of players to steam it up on the court.
Rod Laver Arena – Bernard Tomic v/s Daniel Brands
The only thing common between the 20-year old Australian and his German opponent is the fact that they are both unseeded. But even there, a major divergence emerges, with the German being ranked almost 80-spots below the power-packed Aussie.
Brands might have taken down Martin Klizan in the first round, but the fact remains that where Klizan is a seeded player still finding his groove, Bernard Tomic is even more dangerous. Not because he is talented; but because he’s talented, he knows it, everyone knows so and therefore everyone expects him to outshine. The fact that Tomic sublimely outperformed Mayer in the first round with a shot-selection that was brilliant camouflaged before being unleashed would make it even more difficult for Brands to try and read his game. Thus, with all due respect, Tomic is a thorough favourite in their encounter; a fact that Roger Federer would be specifically keen to monitor, with a potential third-round match-up against the Australian. And us, along with Roger Federer, for we never shy away from really fantastic tennis action.
Margaret Court Arena – Su-Wei Hsieh v/s Svetlana Kuznetsova
What’s so great and interesting about a two-time Grand Slam champion, presently unseeded tennis star taking on a relatively unknown Asian, yet now-seeded tennis player? On the face of it, probably nothing. But delving further, we realise that the Grand Slam champion has been literally off her game for so long that the world has almost written her off, whereas the player from Taipei is riding on a wave of confidence, making it possible that the Russian may get overwhelmed yet again. And that’s the part to watch out for – whether Kuznetsova gets her form back, regardless of the time and effort it takes, or if she withers away without providing any fight-back from her corner.
Rod Laver Arena – Nikolay Davydenko v/s Roger Federer
Nikolay Davydenko used to be a lot of things. Consistent with a good game, a top-ten player with a good season round-up to his name. Today, Nikolay Davydenko has been unceremoniously transformed to a has-been. Playing against Roger Federer, against whom he has tasted success in exactly two matches, Nikolay Davydenko would be, on paper, the ideal loser after the match. But if there’s one thing that the Russian has never been, that’s predictable. Roger Federer would be wary of his opponent and rightly so. He can mix his shots well and can push Federer to the maximum, however slightly Federer loses his focus. He goes into the match as an underdog, and considering all eyes would be on Federer, there’s every chance that Kolya would take the game to Federer. The reason to watch this match – Federer’s not the only variable in the tennis equation these days.
Rod Laver Arena – Laura Robson v/s Petra Kvitova
If Roger Federer starts the proceedings tomorrow at the Rod Laver Arena, it’s gutsy British teenager Robson who sums it up. A battle of the left-handers – if one could term this match, as so – the Robson-Kvitova match promises to spice things up because of the nature of the players. For each of their statuses in the tennis circle these days, their opening rounds couldn’t have been more different. Eighth seeded Kvitova had a tough match against Schiavone whereas Robson comparatively breezed through in straight sets. And with Robson’s reputation of downing big guns at the Slams, read Kim Clijsters and Na Li at last year’s US Open, Kvitova would need to be doubly careful about the way she performs against the Brit. Why to watch this match? Last year’s semi-finalist versus a relative newbie – tennis can’t get more imperfectly ideal than this.
One might wonder about the lack of inclusion of Serena Williams’ match against Spaniard Garbine Muguruza and Azarenka’s clash against Greek, Eleni Daniilidou. Call it optimism or call it sheer arrogance, but these are two matches whose results we are confident about in favour of the favourites.