Australian Open 2013: Previewing Most Exciting Men's Matches on Day 6

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIJanuary 18, 2013

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 17:  Roger Federer of Switzerland plays a backhand in his second round match against Nikolay Davydenko of Russia during day four of the 2013 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 17, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
Michael Dodge/Getty Images

It may be only the third round of the 2013 Australian Open, but that doesn't mean there isn't a plethora of pulse-pounding tennis on tap for Day 6 in Melbourne Park.

Saturday has the promise to be a thrilling day, filled with high-profile players and several unseeded upstarts that have immense potential to cause some intense drama even at this early stage in the tournament.

Here is a breakdown of the most exciting matches in the men's draw.


Roger Federer (2) vs. Bernard Tomic

As the top-ranked Australian men's player, Tomic is undoubtedly going to have the home crowd supporting him as a heavy underdog to the 17-time Grand Slam champion.

Former No. 1 player and three-time Australian Open winner Mats Wilander is buying into the hype surrounding Tomic, who has an incredible level of talent but has failed to harness it due primarily to work ethic (h/t Al Jazeera):

You have to be willing to go to the gym and do pushups and thousands of hours and it hurts every second.

Somebody needs to get that message across (to Tomic) very clearly. This is what it takes. Why would you be in the game if you don't want to be your best? And with his talent, that could probably mean being number one in the world.

But he needs somebody to explain it to him.

Tomic was kicked off the Davis Cup team, which caused him to fall out of favor with the fans in Melbourne despite his fourth-round showing at last year's Australian Open. In this match, though, he is sure to be cheered on heavily.

At just 20 years old, it is clear that Tomic has the talent and overall skills to be one of the sport's elite players. The question remains whether he wants to make the commitment to reaching those heights.

Will this be a massive breakthrough for the talented Aussie, or will the Fed lay the law down and silence the hometown kid?


Milos Raonic (13) vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber (17)

The big-serving Canadian Raonic is one of the hottest emerging names on the ATP circuit. His game is suited for the hard courts, which makes him an ideal dark-horse candidate to make some serious noise in Melbourne.

Raonic won more first-serve points than any other player in 2012. One notable, blistering shot clocked at 150 miles per hour came in Memphis last February against fellow heavy hitter Andy Roddick. and after dropping his very first set at this event, he has roared back and hasn't dropped one since.

Meanwhile, Kohlschreiber is a cagey veteran at age 29 with plenty of positive experience under his belt—especially in the past few months.

He beat Rafael Nadal last season at the Gerry Weber Open (h/t via AP), proving he can get it done against the very best in the world.

The momentum Kohlschreiber generated by reaching the finals of the Heineken Open to begin his 2013 campaign has definitely carried over into the year's first Grand Slam. Should he beat Raonic, it would be the fourth time in the German's career that he has advanced to the fourth round at the Australian Open.

Despite the fact that Kohlschreiber doesn't possess the power of his younger counterpart, he has had plenty of success at this venue in years past. It will be an intriguing clash of contrasting skill sets, and don't be surprised if this one goes five sets.


Gilles Simon (14) vs. Gael Monfils

This battle of Frenchmen pits two players who have seen better days.

Don't be fooled by Monfils' unseeded status and No. 86 ranking. He has reached as high as No. 7 in the world in singles and dropped his coach at the end of 2012 after slumping significantly and battling injuries.

But Monfils has proven that he has elite-level talent in the past and has an unrelenting, aggressive style that features explosive first serves and the ability to pull off risky shots that few others are capable of.

That nearly cost him in the second round, as Monfils racked up 23 double faults. He explained his strategy by stating that he was extremely fatigued during the five-set match and simply was going for broke to keep points short.

Heat was a factor, as temperatures reached approximately 106 degrees Fahrenheit (h/t USA TODAY).

Such tactics may cause Monfils to crash and burn moving forward. Whatever happens, though, it's sure to be very interesting to watch.

Not to be undone, though, Simon has ascended as high as No. 6 in the world and hasn't experienced as drastic of a drop as Monfils has in recent years. His best finish in a Grand Slam was a quarterfinals appearance in the 2009 Australian Open.

Simon's finesse-based game doesn't make this a particularly good matchup, which means an upset could be brewing here.