As the first week of the Australian Open comes to a close, we have seen a lot of straightforward matches, especially on the men’s side.
The top seeds came to Melbourne prepared and breezed through their opening rounds. Though some have fallen on the women’s side, (see Sara Errani, Petra Kvitová and Sam Stosur) it still made for an exciting week of tennis.
Third round action concludes today, and some players are looking to get back into the second week of a Slam, while others are trying to reach it for the first time.
Who will reach their goal? Can the Roger Federer/Bernard Tomic match live up to its potential?
Here are the bold predictions for Day 6.
The highly publicized night matches have been huge letdowns during the first week. From the thrashing of Lleyton Hewitt to Maria Sharapova’s complete dominance of Venus Williams—they didn’t make the early wake up calls worth it. Tonight’s match could have the same outcome.
Federer is looking for his 12th straight second week appearance at Melbourne and first Aussie Open title since 2010. Don’t expect his streak to end tonight.
However, this won’t be one-way Federer traffic due to Tomic’s offseason maturity, training and his confidence, thanks to his first ATP title in Sydney last week. Tomic has improved his physical fitness, as we saw in his tough second round win in 100-degree weather conditions.
He still has some of his old traits, and was cocky in his post-match interviews, telling reporters via ESPN that Roger Federer had to win his second round match too: “If I do play him, then I’ve got my serve, which is a weapon, that I can keep holding now against him. But he’s got to beat [Nikolay] Davydenko. It’s not easy.”
Though the verbal banter was being traded on both sides, look for this match to surpass last year’s forth-round encounter. Like Tomic said, he needs to serve smarter and catch Federer off guard in the first set if he wants any chance at an upset.
Tomic’s rackets should do the talking—for at least a set before Federer pulls away in four.
Gael Monfils has shown the tennis world what they have missed since injuries plagued him last season, providing entertaining matches. While Gilles Simon has quietly made it through his first two matches, virtually unnoticed.
This match, in my mind, is a toss-up because both of these players are very unpredictable. Simon leads the head-to-head match up 3-1, including a win in Melbourne four years ago in the round of 16 (though Monfils retired after three sets). And both men have had to put in extra hours on the court, especially Monfils. Due to the lack of match play, I think fatigue will be more an issue for Monfils. The good news for both players is that the match is scheduled at night on Hisense and both should have enough energy to provide an exciting match.
Monfils is the more confident player, but Simon knows how to play on hard courts and reached the quarterfinals in 2009. Look for Simon to squeeze out a four-set victory.
The battle of the teenagers is also a Day 6 match you won’t want to miss. Both had breakthrough seasons last year, especially in the Slams as Stephens reached the second week at Roland Garros, and Robson reached the round of 16 at the US Open. These two have strong hard court games and are both looking for their first second week Australian Open result. Plus, they are in a favorable part of the draw and have a good chance at reaching the quarterfinals.
These two met just weeks before in Hobart, with Stephens winning in two tight sets and this match should be another close encounter. I give the slight edge to Stephens because she has looked stronger and more consistent coming into this match. Though Robson bested eight-seed Kvitova, it wasn’t pretty. She’ll have to play a lot better (keeping those unforced errors down) if she wants to get past Stephens.
As the oldest woman in the draw, 42-year-old Date-Krumm hopes to reach the second week for the first time since 1995. And she has a good opportunity as she faces Serbia’s Bojana Jovanovski, who has reached her first Grand Slam third round.
However, Jovanovski did beat seed and hard court specialist Lucie Šafářová in the last round and shouldn’t be counted out.
In the end, Date-Krumm has the experience and the confidence, and should reach her second week at a Slam.