Thursday, 17 January 2013

Australian Open Day 5: 3rd Round Predictions

Venus Williams
1. Venus Williams v Maria Sharapova
Another pair of sure-to-be-fascinating womens matches headline day 5 with the highlight being the first match on the Rod Laver Arena night session schedule between Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova.  This is the furthest that Venus has reached in a Grand Slam since her return to action following her health issues.  She looked in solid form as she beat Alize Cornet, 6-3 6-3 in the second round.  Sharapova has been utterly devastating and has yet to lose a game in her first two rounds against Olga Puchkova and Misaki Doi.  This will be a star-studded affair and I hope that it lives up to its expectation; Sharapova leads the head-to-head, 4-3 and won their last match in Rome last year, 6-4 6-3.  I think Venus has done very well to reach this stage, but it would be a huge shock for her to overcome Sharapova...

Prediction - Sharapova to beat Venus in 2 tight sets

2. Ana Ivanovic v Jelena Jankovic
At one stage on Wednesday, it looked like neither would make it to the third round, but thankfully Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic won tough three setters to set up an enticing all-Serbian third rounder.  Jankovic struggled against the Portugese qualifier, Maria-Joao Koehler, but rather surprisingly, came through to win a three set match!  Ivanovic was constantly troubled by Yung-Jan Chan and eventually won, 7-5 1-6 6-4.  Matches between Ivanovic/Jankovic have failed to reach the meteoric heights of their incredible semi-final at Roland Garros in 2008, but they are always an occasion worth watching.  Ivanovic leads the head-to-head and although both appear to be shaky at the moment following their second round wins, I have more faith in Ivanovic's game to prevail...

Prediction - Ivanovic to beat Jankovic in 3 sets

Marcos Baghdatis
3. David Ferrer v Marcos Baghdatis
The womens matches easily trump the mens tomorrow, but the final match of the day should be an entertaining contest with David Ferrer and Marcos Baghdatis going up against one another.  Baghdatis, a former Australian Open finalist, has always had colourful matches at this tournament and that has continued into 2013 as he battled past Albert Ramos in a frantic first round match.  Ferrer has not had things all his way so far as he fought past Tim Smyczek in 4 sets to make the third round.  This will be the Spaniard's 11th match of 2013 already and I am not backing him to make the quarter-finals.  Baghdatis is a dangerous opponent and will cause Ferrer problems; however I predict Ferrer will make it into the second week.

Prediction - Ferrer to beat Baghdatis in 4 sets

4. Angelique Kerber v Madison Keys
Tomorrow's line-up of women's match is extremely encouraging and I would write about more of them if I had time.  My final pick for the top four is the first match of the day on the Rod Laver Arena between Angelique Kerber and Madison Keys.  Kerber had a good win in the second round over Lucie Hradecka, meanwhile Keys continued to dazzle as she made extremely short work of Tamira Paszek in a 6-2 6-1 win.  Kerber has already come up against a talented and fearless youngster in Brisbane against Monica Puig and just about came through in a third set tiebreak.  Keys has a big game and big weapons, which will certainly test the counter-defence of Kerber.  The German will need to be consistent, but also not be too defensive or she will get out-hit.  Still, I am not going for the upset, but it will be close...

Prediction - Kerber to beat Keys in 3 sets

Best of the rest: women
Li Na to beat Sorana Cirstea in 2 tight sets
Agnieszka Radwanska to beat Heather Watson in 2 sets *Come on Heather!!!*
Ekaterina Makarova to beat Marion Bartoli in 3 sets *Upset alert*
Zheng Jie to beat Julia Goerges in 3 sets *Upset alert*
Kirsten Flipkens to Valeria Savinykh in 2 sets

Best of the rest: mens
Novak Djokovic to beat Radek Stepanek in 3 sets
Kevin Anderson to beat Fernando Verdasco in 5 sets *Upset alert*
Tomas Berdych to beat Jurgen Melzer in 3 sets
Janko Tipsarevic to beat Julien Benneteau in 4 tight sets
Sam Querrey to beat Stanislas Wawrinka in 4 sets
Kei Nishikori to beat Evgeny Donskoy in 3 sets
Nicolas Almagro to beat Jerzy Janowicz in 4 sets

I have now finally had a chance to update my original predictions for both the WTA and ATP draws... pretty happy so far with both!

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