In a sport where upsets are rare, the 2014 Australian Open could see a few surprise names still alive in later rounds.
Four Top 10 players between the men's and women's draw have already been eliminated in this wild tournament. Whether it is the heat, the fact that many are unprepared for the first Grand Slam of the year or some other excuse, the biggest stars are not shining early in the week.
This is leaving the opportunity for a few unseeded players to make a run in Melbourne. It will not be easy for any of these competitors, but there is a chance to see a couple reach at least the quarterfinals.
Roberto Bautista Agut
There might not be anyone in the field with two more impressive wins in the opening rounds than Roberto Bautista Agut. After dropping only four games in a straight-set win over Tim Smyczek, the Spanish star advanced to the second round, where he defeated No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro.
After the match, even his opponent was impressed by the performance:
Up next, Bautista Agut will face another formidable opponent in Benoit Paire. However, he showed the ability to defeat the No. 27 seed with a straight-set win in his last tournament at Auckland.
If he is able to survive this battle, he will face the winner of Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov. While both have talent, each are heavily reliant on the serve, which Bautista Agut knows how to defend well. They can also tend to be a bit inconsistent in big tournaments.
Bautista Agut has already defeated the toughest opponent he will face on the path to the quarterfinals. He now simply needs to keep battling his way deep into the tournament.
While unseeded players Stephane Robert and Martin Klizan will face each other in Round 3, the winner will likely be no match for Andy Murray in Round 4.
On the other hand, Florian Mayer just needs one more win to reach the quarterfinals. Of course, it will be against No. 3 David Ferrer, a man who has been simply outstanding over the past year.
However, Mayer has shown the ability to step up his game against top competition this season. He already has a win over Murray, plus wins over Mikhail Youzhny and Jerzy Janowicz in this tournament.
In the Round 3 win, he only totaled seven unforced errors to go with 38 winners. He has also been incredible with his serve, totaling 42 aces in his three wins.
Ferrer is always solid defensively, but he is at his worst on hard courts, and he is susceptible to an upset in this match.
Certainly this is relatively new ground for Casey Dellacqua, who has not made it out of the second round of a major by herself since 2010. On the other hand, she is used to the pressure as half of one of the better doubles teams around.
Dellacqua and Ashleigh Barty are the No. 5 seed in the doubles bracket and have reached the finals in three of the last four Grand Slams.
Now it is up to Dellacqua to do it herself, and the draw seems to be helping her out tremendously. Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani both went down in the first round, leaving only No. 18 Kirsten Flipkens and No. 30 Eugenie Bouchard in her way.
The Australian made quick work of Flipkens in a win that took just over an hour and now has her sights on Bouchard. Dellacqua discussed the upcoming match, per the AAP via the Sydney Morning Herald:
It’s going to be a tough one. (Bouchard) is a great player, she’s had really good results of late. She’s seeded here, she’s on the rise, she’s playing some really great tennis but so am I. It should be a great match.
Hopefully we get the opportunity to play out here again in front of Australia and I’m looking forward to it.
She should get a nice home-court advantage as the fans will certainly cheer on the local hero. If she continues to play at her current level, there is little doubt she should be able to pull off the upset.
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