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Top 5 matches to look forward to on Day 4 of the Australian Open

Jai Prakash
SENIOR ANALYST
2.68K   //    21 Jan 2015, 18:34 IST

Day 3 at the 2015 Australian Open saw some exciting matches as top seeds Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal had to fight hard for their wins. In the women’s section, Maria Sharapova saved two match points against Alexandra Panova to come through in three tight sets. Meanwhile, local boys Bernard Tomic, Sam Groth and Nick Kyrgios also made it to the next round, much to the delight of the Aussie spectators.

The players in the top half of the draw take to the court tomorrow for their second round matches. Here are five matches you can’t afford to miss:

Reminder: You can watch all the action live on Sony Liv Sports here.

1. Garbine Muguruza vs Daniela Hantuchova

The young Spaniard Garbine Muguruza got off to a sound start at the Australian Open with a 7-5, 6-0 drubbing of Marina Erakovic in the first round. She is high on confidence after a good showing in the Grand Slams last year, which included a win over 18-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams at the French Open.

Her opponent Daniela Hantuchova is also coming off a dominant display against Saisai Zheng in the first round. The Slovak has been concentrating on her doubles game at the moment, and that might help her net play against the No. 23 seed.

Muguruza won their only meeting last year in Stanford.

Match Time: 5:30 am IST.

2. Benjamin Becker vs Lleyton Hewitt

The Aussie crowd will be firmly behind their hero Lleyton Hewitt in his second round match against Germany’s Benjamin Becker. Hewitt dropped a set in an otherwise impressive performance against China’s Ze Zhang in the opening round, but he has not had a great start to the year overall, as he lost to compatriot Sam Groth in straight sets in Brisbane.

The experienced Hewitt, who is still searching for his first title at his home Major, would likely face some trying times against Becker. The German took care of 25th seed Julien Benneteau in four sets in the first round and has a terrific backhand to go with his good serve. 

That said, Hewitt will probably take heart from the fact that he has not lost to Becker in their two previous meetings.

Match Time: 1:30 pm IST.

3. Novak Djokovic vs Andrey Kuznetsov

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic takes on the unseeded Russian Andrey Kuznetsov for a place in the third round. Djokovic began his quest for a record fifth Australian Open title with a convincing performance over Aljaz Bedene, while Kuznetsov came through in four sets against Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas  in the opening round.

The Russian has come to Melbourne after playing a couple of Challenger matches and will have his task cut out against the No.1 seed.

Kuznetsov would have taken a good look at the performances of Simone Bolelli and Tim Smyczek today, who played superbly against Federer and Nadal respectively. He will try to replicate their strategies against the World No. 1 at the Rod Laver Arena tomorrow.

Djokovic and Kuznetsov have never played against each other before.

Match time: Around 7:30 IST.

4. Jerzy Janowicz vs Gael Monfils

Gael Monfils survived a scare against his countryman Lucas Pouille in the first round, as he came back from two sets down to emerge victorious in a thrilling match. The showman was at his entertainning best and had the backing of a packed crowd in the all-French affair.

The towering Jerzy Janowicz can test Monfils with his power-packed game and can prevent the Frenchman from settling into a rhythm. Monfils is playing in his first tournament after Paris Masters last year, while Janowicz got some match practice under his belt at the Hopman Cup to off-set a third round loss to Leonardo Mayer at the Sydney International.

Monfils has won the only match the duo have played so far, and from the looks of things, their clash tomorrow could go the distance.

Match time: Not before 12 pm IST.

5. Victoria Azarenka vs Caroline Wozniacki

In what promises to be a blockbuster of a contest, two-time champion Victoria Azarenka takes on No. 8 seed Caroline Wozniacki in the second round. Both are former World No. 1 players, and have been friends-cum-rivals since their junior days.

Azarenka slipped out of the top 10 rankings last year and is unseeded at this year’s Australian Open. Wozniacki meanwhile had a wrist injury in Sydney, although that did not seem to affect her in her straight sets victory over American Taylor Townsend in the first round. Azarenka on her part got off to a good start in the tournament too, as she overcame another American Sloane Stephens in straight sets.

It goes without saying that their battle tomorrow has all the ingredients of a barn-burner, and seems almost guaranteed to go three sets.

Match Time: 1:30 pm IST.

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Jai Prakash
SENIOR ANALYST
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