Australian Open 2012 Bracket: Predicting Most Exciting Matches for Jan 23rd

Delores Smith-JohnsonCorrespondent IIIJanuary 22, 2012

Australian Open 2012 Bracket: Predicting Most Exciting Matches for Jan 23rd

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    Week 1 of the 2012 Australian Open saw some great on-court action.

    With the field dwindling down and the best players remaining, the second week is sure to continue on that same path.

    Here's a look at the most exciting matches to watch on Monday, January 23rd.

    Be sure to give your insight and predictions in the comments section.


Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Lleyton Hewitt

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    Head-to-Head Matchup: 5-1 (Djokovic leads)

    Last Meeting: Wimbledon 2010; Djokovic pulled out a four-set win, 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4


    This will come down to a skill and endurance match.

    Novak Djokovic is eyeing the finish line to hopefully begin a repeat of his dominance in 2011.

    Lleyton Hewitt, with limited court time left being in his prime tennis years, is looking to give his all to check off his tennis bucket list.

Serena Williams (12) vs. Ekaterina Makarova

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    Head-to-Head Matchup: 1-0 (Serena leads)

    Last Meeting: 2009 China Open; Serena won, 6-3, 6-2


    Coming off a 59-minute win and beating all of her opponents in straight sets, Serena is geared up to continue her trek to the final to secure her sixth Aussie Open singles title.

    On the other side of the court, Makarova is coming off a stunning upset of the No. 7 seed Vera Zvonareva and a third-round doubles win.

    Could this match cause Serena to break a sweat?

    If so, it's good because when Serena feels any pressure, she simply steps up her game and plays even better. That makes for an even more exciting match for viewers.

    And in this case, with that sixth Aussie title within reach, she has lots of motivation.

Andy Murray (4) vs. Mikhail Kukushkin

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    Head-to-Head Matchup: 1-0 (Murray leads)

    Last Meeting: 2012 Brisbane International; Murray won in three sets, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.


    This is definitely a surprise matchup as Mikhail Kukushkin came out of nowhere beating Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Victor Troicki (five-setter) and Gael Monfils (five-setter) to secure a fourth-round spot.

    Though Kukushkin has been on tour for 13 years, this is only his second and best Aussie Open performance.

    This is going to be a gritty battle, and Andy Murray has admitted that. Murray must be physically and mentally set for consistency.

    Any opening that Murray provides, Kukushkin is going to take advantage as he's looking to make the most of this opportunity that he has earned.

Maria Sharapova (4) vs. Sabine Lisicki (14)

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    Head-to-Head Matchup: 2-0 (Sharapova leads)

    Last Meeting: Wimbledon 2011; Sharapova won, 6-4, 6-3.


    This will obviously be a rematch of last year's Wimbledon semifinals. It will also be a matchup of service game vs. return game.

    Sabine Lisicki has one of the best serves in the game.

    Maria Sharapova is one of the best returners in the game.

    Whichever player excels in her respective area of strength, will win the match.

    It's sure to be a battle to the very end.

David Ferrer (5) vs. Richard Gasquet (17)

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    Head-to-Head Matchup: 5-2 (Ferrer leads)

    Last Meeting:  2009 Shanghai Rolex Masters; Ferrer won, 6-4, 6-3.


    David Ferrer always produces an exciting match as he doesn't have any big weapons like many of the other players. But what he does have is a tenacity to stay in the match at all costs and an insatiable hungry to do his best and win.

    Gasquet is a gifted player, but one who flies under the radar in tennis discussions.

    Though they may not have the recognition of other players they do have the on-court skills demanding recognition.

    Tune in for a great match.

Petra Kvitova (2) vs. Ana Ivanovic (21)

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    Head-to-Head Matchup: 3-0 (Ivanovic leads)

    Last Meeting: 2009 Brisbane International; Ivanovic won, 6-4, 6-2.


    Petra Kvitova is going into this match with a lot to think about. The world continues to watch to see if she is becoming the projected tennis star she seems to be. She has the opportunity to become No. 1 in the world. She is going for her first Aussie Open win.

    But, Ana Ivanovic has the ability to cause complications.

    The world just watched Ivanovic deal with an apparent debilitating injury but stay true to form, winning her third-round match against American star Vania King.

    She is a very skilled, consistent player who flies under the radar.

    Her consistency and Kvitova's tendency to not be consistent is going to be the key as to who wins this match.