Australian Open 2013: Standout Performances by Under-the-Radar Players

Stephen SheehanCorrespondent IJanuary 20, 2013

Jeremy Chardy has risen to the challenge at the Australian Open.
Jeremy Chardy has risen to the challenge at the Australian Open.Michael Dodge/Getty Images

The 2013 Australian Open hasn't featured many surprises, but a handful of under-the-radar players have stood out through the opening rounds. 

While top seeds Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have cruised through the opening rounds of the tournament, No. 6 seed Juan Martin del Potro saw his run end early courtesy of 25-year-old Jeremy Chardy.

The Frenchman, who's ranked No. 36 in the world, battled against Adrian Menendez-Maceiras of Spain in Round 1 before taking down Marcel Granollers in Round 2. However, Chardy saved his best performance for Saturday afternoon, toppling the tournament's sixth seed in five sets. 

Chardy got off to a hot start against del Potro, winning the first two sets. But the 2009 U.S. Open champion staged a furious comeback before Chardy sealed the win in the final set. 

The Frenchman's victory proved to be one of the few notable upsets in a tournament that's gone mostly as expected.

Taking down one of the higher-ranked players in the tournament and showing serious resiliency made Chardy's Saturday a memorable one. 

Spaniard Fernando Verdasco has always been a promising player, but the 29-year-old ran into the big serve of South African Kevin Anderson on Friday. 

Anderson, who entered the tournament as the No. 31 player in the world, upset the tournament's No. 22 seed in five thrilling sets.

Both players battled back and forth on Friday, with Verdasco winning the first and third sets. However, Anderson refused to give in and won the fourth set in 63 minutes. The big South African sealed the deal with a 6-2 score in the final set.

Anderson's victory set him up for a fourth-round matchup with fifth-seeded Tomas Berdych. Although Anderson couldn't continue his magic on Sunday, he put up a valiant fight in the third set and ultimately outperformed expectations.

In women's doubles action, the Spanish tandem of Silvia Soler-Espinosa and Carla Suarez Navarro pulled off a big upset in the third round against Liezel Huber of the United States and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain. 

Huber/Martinez Sanchez entered the matchup as the tournament's sixth seed, but met a force to be reckoned with in Soler-Espinosa/Navarro. The duo won just 55 percent of first-point serves, but upped that number to 69 percent on second-point serves compared to just 45 for Huber/Martinez Sanchez. 

The unranked team battled through a tough first set before falling in the second. They got back on track in the decisive set, winning 6-4 and setting themselves up for yet another tough draw. 

It will take an even better performance for the under-the-radar duo to defeat fourth-seeded Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina of Russia in the quarterfinals on Monday.