Australian Open 2012: Predicting Thursday's Most Exciting Matches
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Coming up Thursday, there is really only one marquee match of note. This will be a rematch of the 2005 semifinal between former world No. 1 and Australian Open Champion "Rusty" Lleyton Hewitt and former world No. 1 and United States Open champion "A-Rod" Andy Roddick.
But as we saw Tuesday with Mardy Fish, any seeded player can have an off day, and interesting things can happen. In the next few pages we'll take a look at a few matchups of Day 4 for their upset potential.
Raonic (seeded 23) vs. Petzschner
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We haven't seen much of Milos Raonic. He endured hip surgery in the middle of 2011. But this guy has a massive serve, is a tall guy (6' 5") and is a tennis up-and-comer who some B/R regulars have predicted could have a breakthrough season this year.
Philipp Petzschner has been a pain in the petunia for many a top-20 player. He took Rafael Nadal to five sets at Wimbledon, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to five sets at last year's Australian Open and Juan Carlos Ferrero to five sets in the United States Open.
If we're lucky we'll see world-class tennis in this one, tennis that will test Raonic's tournament fitness.
Monfils (seeded 14) vs. Bellucci
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Gael Monfils is always interesting to watch.
Thomaz Bellucci is an up-and-coming Brazilian guy who has been touted as "Rafa Nadal-lite." This is a guy with a physical game who can sometimes put it all together with his shot selection and grab a set from a top-20 player.
If we are lucky, we will see long rallies and shot-making fireworks in this one.
Kuznetsova (seeded 18) vs. Stephens
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Svetlana Kuznetsova is a two-time Grand Slam winner (2004 US Open, 2009 French), but her ranking has fallen since that triumph in 2009.
Sloane Stephens played a fabulous match at last year's US Open, defeating No. 23 seed Sahar Pe'er. So she's got the potential for an upset.
Petrova (seeded 29) vs. Errani
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Nadia Petrova. Andrea Petkovic. Petra Kvitova.
Yes, I get them confused.
Andrea Petkovic (German, dances when she wins, of Serbian ancestry) is not playing the tournament this year (knee).
Petra Kvitova (Russian, Wimbledon Champion), ranked No. 2, should have no trouble in this round with Carla Suarez Navarro, who has struggled with injury last year.
Nadia Petrova is one of my favorite of the ladies' seeds. She is a big girl. She doesn't dance. She doesn't play with a lot of drama but she can bring a powerful game. Sometimes. And when she does, she's wondrous to watch. I'd like to see her keep it together and advance in this tournament.
Roddick (seeded 15) vs. Hewitt
Andy Roddick preparing to serve
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An Australian Open semifinal that featured a classic with Roger Federer and Marat Safin made the 2005 tournament memorable. It was also memorable for a classic between Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt, and an early five-setter between Lleyton Hewitt and Rafael Nadal.
Roddick is looking good so far this year, after a year of injury and recovering from a bout of mono. And he ought to be looking for revenge for his 2005 defeat in four sets to Hewitt.
He says the shoulder is feeling good.
But this match is going to be played in Rod Laver arena, on Hewitt's home turf.