Day 3 saw some closely fought matches at the 2014 Australian Open. Let’s hope we get to see more of the same on day 4, which features some interesting encounters for tennis fans.
Christina McHale vs. Caroline Wozniacki (10)
This has the potential to be an exciting match, as McHale leads the head-to-head 2-1 despite being ranked 52 places lower than Wozniacki. Rory McIllroy’s fiancee looked solid and consistent in her first round rout, while McHale had a decent fight to get through to the second round. If Wozniacki can extend the rallies, her excellent defensive skills should see her through. However, on her day McHale is one of those players who can get on a roll with her ability to hit winners from all angles, and the chance of an upset shouldn’t be ruled out by any means.
Alize Cornet (25) vs. Camila Giorgi
Cornet was one of the luckiest players on day 2, after her opponent retired after just 10 minutes on a hot day. Giorgi on the other hand spent close to two hours in a three-setter. This should be an exciting game between two players with contrasting styles. The Frenchwoman loves playing the angles, and is excellent on the run. On the opposite side, the young Italian, who captured the hearts of fans at the US Open with her run to the fourth round, is extremely aggressive and will relentlessly pound shots from the centre of the court. Despite Cornet being the fresher of the two, I think this match is too close to call, and could easily go the distance.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (10) vs. Thomaz Bellucci
Tsonga is loved by the fans in Melbourne, and its great to see the big-serving Frenchman back in action after an injury-plagued second half of 2013. He may have looked rusty to begin with, but towards the end of his first round match, Tsonga looked to be in excellent rhythm with his forehands finding the lines with regularity. Bellucci is a dangerous opponent, as the southpaw can find ridiculous angles, and is not afraid of mixing up cute drop shots to unsettle his opponents. Tsonga should have enough in the bag to see him through in a match that is certain to delight the crowd.
Jack Sock vs. Gael Monfils (25)
After disposing off Ryan Harrison in straight sets in the first round, Monfils takes on another young American hope in the form of Jack Sock. Sock has a good head on his shoulders, and even at this early stage of his career, he is comfortable with changing the pace of his shots, and is not afraid to come to the net and finish points with smart volleys. However, Sock will have to improve his first serve percentage, as a 50% success rate simply won’t cut it against a good returner liker Monfils. The Frenchman will run around the baseline all day, and should be the favourite. Nevertheless, Sock will be a threat in a match that should go four sets minimum.
Marin Cilic vs. Gilles Simon (18)
The second round feels too early for such an exciting match between two dangerous floaters. Cilic looks a refreshed player with new coach Goran Ivanisevic in his corner. The Croatian hasn’t lived up to his obvious potential, but this year could mark the beginning of a renaissance. Simon on the other hand is an opponent most players find annoying, as he can retrieve pretty much any ball, and is an expert at slowing the pace of rallies. Cilic and Simon both had to come from behind to win five-setters in the first round, with the caveat that the former won his fifth set 6-2, while the latter had a 16-14 marathon. I think Cilic has the momentum to win this match, but ruling out Simon is never a wise move. This match should go four sets at the least.