The first three days of the 2014 Australian Open have provided a lot of action and intrigue, plus plenty of heat. With temperatures soaring to record highs, it seems that anything could happen at Melbourne.
While a mind-blowing upset has yet to take place in this year’s first Grand Slam, one of the unheralded participants always has a chance to knock out a marquee talent early on.
With so many stars in action on Day 4, that outcome is not outside the realm of possibility. Let's take a look at where you can watch all the Aussie Open action and highlight some of the best matchups on tap for Jan. 15/16.
Where: Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia
When (local): Thursday, Jan. 16, at 11 a.m.
When (U.S.): Wednesday, Jan. 15, at 7 p.m. ET
Watch: ESPN2, Tennis Channel
Live Stream: ESPN3
|2014 Australian Open Schedule - Notable Day 4 Matchups|
|Venue (start time)||Matchups|
|Rod Laver Arena (7 p.m. ET)||Second Round|
|Karin Knapp (ITA) vs. Maria Sharapova (RUS)|
|Christina McHale (USA) vs. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)|
|Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS)|
|Rod Laver Arena (3 a.m. ET)||Second Round|
|Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) vs. Victoria Azarenka (BLR)|
|Andy Murray (GBR) vs. Vincent Millot (FRA)|
|Margaret Court Arena (7 p.m. ET)||Second Round|
|Sloane Stephens (USA) vs. Ajla Tomljanovic (CRO)|
|Show Court 3 (7 p.m. ET)||Second Round|
|Jelena Jankovic (SRB) vs. Ayumi Morita (JPN)|
|Court 6 (7 p.m. ET)||Second Round|
|Dusan Lajovic (SRB) vs. Kei Nishikori (JPN)|
|Hisense Arena (7 p.m. ET)||Second Round|
|Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) vs. Thomaz Bellucci (BRA)|
|Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) vs. Olga Govortsova (BLR)|
|Blaz Kavcic (SLO) vs. Roger Federer (SUI)|
|Show Court 2 (7 p.m. ET)||Second Round|
|Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) vs. Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ)|
|Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) vs. Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG)|
Top Matchups to Watch
Roger Federer (6) vs. Blaz Kavcic
Federer is used to playing in the second round of the Australian Open—having advanced past it every year since 2000—but he’s not too familiar with the court he will be playing on.
The Swiss legend has been “banished” from the main court, Rod Laver Arena, and instead will have to take on opponent Blaz Kavcic in the less-heralded and less-exciting Hisense Arena.
Federer hasn’t played a match on the secondary show court in a decade. His last meeting on Hisense came back in 2004, when he went on to win his first of four Aussie Opens.
The clock is running out on the 32-year-old superstar, who is hoping to break through at his advanced age and win a record-setting fifth championship at Melbourne.
As the No. 6 seed in this event, he won’t have an easy path. His quarter of the draw includes Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, two of the world's best players.
The path won’t be very visible yet either, with Federer set to start things off on the out-of-sight Hisense Arena.
Prediction: Federer wins, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3
Victoria Azarenka (2) vs. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova
Azarenka came into this event as the back-to-back defending champion, but she was only granted a No. 2 seed by the tournament’s organizers. She’s playing with a chip on her shoulder, and she obliterated her first-round opponent, Johanna Larsson of Sweden, in straight sets ahead of her Round 2 showdown with Strycova.
The Belarusian star wasn’t immune to the heat and described the match with Larsson on Rod Laver Arena court as akin to “dancing in a frying pan,” according to CNN.
However, that didn’t stop her from getting in a few additional practice reps right after the match ended. She put on a long-sleeved shirt and hit in preparation for Thursday’s meeting with Strycova.
The Czech challenger isn’t going to provide much of a test for the champ but represents another chance for Azarenka to improve her game ahead of a potential finals matchup with Serena Williams.
The American star holds the No. 1 world ranking, but Azarenka is eyeing a third straight Aussie Open title and will likely have to go through Williams to get it. Expect an epic battle, assuming it comes down to those two fierce competitors.
Prediction: Azarenka wins, 6-2, 6-2
Rafael Nadal (1) vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis
Top-seeded Nadal is back in action on Thursday against the young Kokkinakis.
The 17-year-old Australian is no threat of eliminating Nadal, but the kid will likely have plenty of support in the crowd and has the benefit of an entire match in the intense heat under his belt.
The world No. 1 player wasn’t able to get in a complete match against his first-round opponent Bernard Tomic, after the 21-year-old retired due to injury. Kokkinakis pushed past Igor Sijsling in the first round after a four-set battle.
This isn’t going to be enough to make any sort of difference, but it could help the youngster steal a game or two in the latter portions of the match.
Expect Nadal to advance in straight sets but Kokkinakis to gain invaluable experience during this marquee showdown at Rod Laver Arena.
Prediction: Nadal wins, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2