Day 4 of the Australian Open was pure drama, as heat stoppages had players almost fainting, and we saw five 5-setters go past midnight as the fans were treated to some fantastic tennis. Here’s hoping day 5 lives up to the expectations, as I take a look at the matches to keep an eye on.
Serena Williams (1) vs. Daniela Hantuchova (31)
Serena and Daniela have had some good encounters in the past, but haven’t played each other since 2009. The world no.1 has started the year in ominous form, and has looked flawless in the first two rounds. Hantuchova had to win a marathon third set 12-10 in the second round, and it will be hard for the Slovakian to pose many challenges for Serena. Nonetheless, it should be an attractive match because Hantuchova will at least come to the net more often, ensuring some entertaining exchanges for the fans to watch.
Jeremy Chardy (29) vs. David Ferrer (3)
Two of the flattest hitters in men’s tennis come up against each other as Jeremy Chardy takes on David Ferrer. Both players came through intense four-setters in the second round, and in technical terms its hard to differentiate between the two. However, when it comes to speed, stamina and a never-say-die attitude, Ferrer is streets ahead of Chardy. It is this advantage that Ferrer will rely upon in a match he should see through in four sets.
Samantha Stosur (17) vs. Ana Ivanovic (14)
This is clearly the most difficult match of the women’s third round, as home favourite Stosur takes on 2008 runner-up Ivanovic. Both players come into the match in excellent form after convincing victories in the first two rounds, following up on winning starts to the year. Stosur leads the head-to-head 4-3, and clearly has the edge on serve. Ivanovic has the better baseline game, but in a match between two players who both struggle with nerves, it could come down to which player manages to maintain their composure in a match that should go the distance.
Tommy Robredo (17) vs. Richard Gasquet (9)
Gasquet looked in terrific touch in his second round win over Nikolay Davydenko. Impressively, Gasquet managed to stay composed in long rallies, waiting for the right moment to unleash his fantastic array of winners. The Frenchman will need more of the same against the veteran Robredo. The Spaniard is consistent from the baseline without being flashy, so Gasquet will once again have to be patient from the baseline or risk hitting unforced errors against Robredo. It is going to be a tough match, but I think Gasquet should have enough to see the match through in four sets.
Florian Mayer vs. Jerzy Janowicz (20)
A match between two tall men on the ATP tour sees the tricky Florian Mayer against the big serving Jerzy Janowicz. Both men have spent a lot of time on court so far, and the last thing they would have wanted was playing at 11 am on what is expected to be the last hot day at Melbourne this year. Janowicz has the bigger game, but I think Mayer’s variety and the ability to slow the game down could prove to be a crucial advantage. I think this match is too close to call, with both players equally capable of brilliance and unreliability.