Fri 18 Jan 2013
In the most anticipated third round match on the women’s side at the Australian Open, No.2 seeded Russian Maria Sharapova bested American Venus Williams in straight sets last night, 6-1, 6-3 at Rod Laver Arena.
Apparently, the 25-year old career grand slam winner had too much for Williams, who’s won seven majors in her brilliant career (5 Wimbledons, 2 U.S. Opens). Sharapova outslugged Venus. She won the first four games, jumping out to a double break lead and easily captured the opening set. The fiery blonde Russian got an early break in the second and never relinquished it to serve out the match.
“She played very well. I expect her to play well,” Williams said of a pumped up Sharapova. “Definitely not my best day today. But, you know, there’s always other days to play better.”
“I was a really determined player out there because I knew the tennis that she’s capable of producing and playing,” Sharapova said.
The former Australian champion advanced to the Round Of Sixteen where she’ll meet unseeded Belgian Kirsten Flipkens.
In other action, Ana Ivanovic defeated Jelena Jankovic in straights, 7-5, 6-3 to take the all Serbian battle of former No.1′s. She’ll next face No.4 seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, who made quick work of Heather Watson 6-3, 6-1. Radwanska hasn’t dropped a set this year and is favorite to beat Ivanovic, who preached patience for the upcoming fourth round encounter.
No.5 German Angelique Kerber ended American teenager
2, 7-5 triumph to make the Round Of 16. Nobody’s talking about her but the lefty has the game to give Sharapova a run if they meet in the quarterfinals.
No.6 Li Na also advanced with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Sorana Cirstea. If she makes the quarters, she’ll face the Radwanska/Ivanovic winner. If it’s Radwanska, I’d lean toward the No.4 seed from Poland.
There are more third round matches for the women later today in Melbourne Park with defending champion Victoria Azarenka, Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki all taking the court.
One of the more intriguing match-ups pits American Sloane Stephens against unseeded Brit Laura Robson, who as speculated here took out Petra Kvitova in a long three set battle 2-6, 6-3, 11-9. Stephens is an up and coming player for our country who’s seeded No.29. She is a good ball striker who possesses power that can one day help her reach the top 10. She’ll have to be at her best to beat the feisty Robson, who fights hard. One of them will have a shot at their first slam quarter.
On the men’s side, everything held to form. Novak Djokovic and David Ferrer each prevailed in straight sets with the No.4 Spaniard taking out popular Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis 6-4, 6-2, 6-3. Djokovic defeated Czech veteran Radek Stepanek 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.
The Djoker next faces Stanislas Wawrinka who took out No.20 American Sam Querrey 7-6 (6), 7-5, 6-4. The No.15 seed from Switzerland is a solid player who has a great backhand but not enough consistency to upset Nole. Djokovic is a better server, stronger player and better runner. He should prevail in three. If he does, he could see big hitting Czech Tomas Berdych. A player nobody likes to play because he’s got the kind of game that can give anyone fits. With a huge serve and some of the biggest groundstrokers in tennis, he is capable of beating anybody. Just ask Roger Federer.
Berdych next takes on unseeded Kevin Anderson, who upset fading Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in five sets, 4-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2. Verdasco hasn’t been the same player for a couple of years with injuries also dropping him out of the top 20. A shame for a very talented lefty with a strong game. If you don’t have it upstairs, you can’t stick. Look at James Blake, who could be following Andy Roddick out.
No.8 seeded Serbian Janko Tipsarevic rallied from a set down to defeat Frenchman baseliner Julien Benneteau 3-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 to advance to a Round Of 16 match against No.10 Spaniard Nicolas Almagro. That’s a pick ‘em. Tipsarevic has the better serve. I still like him to prevail and face Ferrer, who should have enough to beat Japanese No.18 Kei Nishikori.
Later tonight, the Federer Express takes on Aussie teen Bernard Tomic. Expect Federer to advance in a unique Davis Cup setting with all of Melbourne behind Tomic. The other match in his quarter should be competitive with Canadian monster server Milos Raonic taking on German Phillip Kohlschreiber. Kohlschreiber will have to serve extremely well to prevail. If he does, he’s capable of prevailing. I’m going to pick him in a slight upset over Raonic in four.
Federer should beat either guy to reach the quarters where Jo-Wilfried Tsonga should be waiting. Another player who’s beaten Roger before. But last time out, Feds was unstoppable. I still believe he’ll make the semis.
It’s uncertain if it’ll be Andy Murray, who has the hardest section with either Juan Martin Del Potro or Marin Cilic a potential quarterfinal opponent. Murray faces unseeded Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis while an all French battle takes place between Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils. The unpredictable Monfils came back from a set back to beat Yen-Tsun Lu 7-6 (5), 4-6, 0-6, 6-1, 8-6 in sweltering conditions that saw him call for the trainer due to severe cramping. He overcame 23 double faults to prevail, later telling the French media that he was so tired that he tried to keep points short.
Monfils is way too inconsistent to beat the steady Simon, who should be fresher following a four set triumph over Jesse Levine. Simon is like a backboard, similar to Djokovic without the ridiculous shot making ability. He’s not the right opponent for the streaky Monfils. Simon is always a tough out at slams. Figure that to be the case again.
We’ll have more Australian Open coverage over the weekend, including Federer’s showdown against Tomic.