On a day where there was only one match that didn't feature a seeded player, the amount of intrigue at the 2013 Australian Open was low. Maria Sharapova crushed Venus Williams in Day 5's most talked-about match, and her fellow top seeds followed suit.
When Stanislas Wawrinka eliminated Sam Querrey, it brought an end to the slim hope that an American man would make a deep run. It illustrates the lack of top-end talent now that Andy Roddick is enjoying life after tennis.
If there's any good news about the lackluster competition level in the early rounds, it's that there should be some tremendous matchups on the horizon with most of the elite players moving through. That's a trade-off fans will probably accept.
Here's a look at some of the top story lines from the first half of the third round.
No Contest in Women's Marquee Matchup
The talk of a potential third-round clash between Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams started immediately after the draws were revealed. It turns out the encounter wasn't worth the wait, as Sharapova cruised to a 6-1, 6-3 victory.
Williams committed 26 unforced errors, and Sharapova converted five break points while facing just six, and the Russian superstar was through in one hour and 19 minutes. Anybody in the United States who stayed up to watch it likely went to bed disappointed.
Although the match wasn't as competitive as expected, it was another statement by Sharapova. After winning her first two matches without dropping a single game, it's now clear that she is in top form and is on the shortlist of potential champions.
Djokovic Stays Alive in Search of Third Straight Title
Radek Stepanek threw everything in his repertoire at Djokovic, but he simply didn't have enough firepower, as the two-time defending Australian Open champion advanced in straight sets. He still hasn't dropped a set in the tournament.
He received some help from the draw by landing on the opposite side of Roger Federer and Andy Murray, which helped clear his path to a third title. But when he's playing at such a high level, he would be the favorite, regardless of his opponent.
While Stepanek is a solid veteran that is still capable of winning a lot of matches on tour, he just isn't good enough to beat Djokovic unless the world's No. 1 player has an off match. That didn't happen on Day 5, and the quest for a three-peat continues.
Second-Tier Contenders Advance
As always, the focus was on a the top players heading into the season's first major. On the men's side, those players are Djokovic, Federer and Murray. On the women's side, they are Victoria Azarenka, Serena Williams and the aforementioned Sharapova.
However, there are some other contenders lurking in the background that were hoping to pull off a shocker, and many of them advanced on Day 5. That's why there should be high hopes about the quality of play as the business end of the Aussie Open approaches.
Players like David Ferrer (who beat Marcos Baghdatis is straight sets), Tomas Berdych (who rolled over Jurgen Melzer in straight sets), Agnieszka Radwanska (who topped Heather Watson) and Li Na(who cruised past Sorana Cirstea) are all worth watching heading into the second week. Even if they don't end up raising the trophy, a few should at least give the top players a scare.
Men's Third Round Scores: Day 5
Novak Djokovic (1) defeated Radek Stepanek (31); 6-4, 6-3, 7-5
David Ferrer (4) defeated Marcos Baghdatis (28); 6-4, 6-2, 6-3
Tomas Berdych (5) defeated Jurgen Melzer (26); 6-3, 6-2, 6-2
Janko Tipsarevic (8) defeated Julien Benneteau (32); 3-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3
Nicolas Almagro (10) defeated Jerzy Janowicz (24); 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-4), 6-1
Stanislas Wawrinka (15) defeated Sam Querrey (20); 7-6 (8-6), 7-5, 6-4
Kei Nishikori (16) defeated Evgeny Donskoy; 7-6 (7-3), 6-2, 6-3
Kevin Anderson defeated Fernando Verdasco (22); 4-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2
Women's Third Round Scores: Day 5
Maria Sharapova (2) defeated Venus Williams (25); 6-1, 6-3
Agnieszka Radwanska (4) defeated Heather Watson; 6-3, 6-1
Angelique Kerber (5) defeated Madison Keys; 6-2, 7-5
Li Na (6) defeated Sorana Cirstea (27); 6-4, 6-1
Ekaterina Makarova (19) defeated Marion Bartoli (11); 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 6-4
Ana Ivanovic (13) defeated Jelena Jankovic (22); 7-5, 6-3
Julia Goerges (18) defeated Zheng Jie; 6-3, 1-6, 7-5
Kirsten Flipkens defeated Valeria Savinykh; 6-2, 4-6, 6-3
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