Mother nature isn’t the only dominating force at the 2014 Australian Open through three rounds of action.
While temperatures have skyrocketed to dangerous levels throughout much of play (although they have dropped some), all of the marquee superstar favorites continue to dominate in their early matches. The name of the game during much of the late third-round action on the men’s side of the draw was straight-set victories.
While the three-set matches may have sapped some of the excitement from the late third round, we are rapidly heading toward a quarterfinal that is dominated by premier tennis players. Let’s dig into a few takeaways from the men’s third round of action.
Big Names Cruise
Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Roger Federer were all in action in the late third-round slate of matches, and between the three superstars, not a set was dropped.
Nadal cruised 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 over Gael Monfils, Murray took care of No. 26 Feliciano Lopez 7-6, 6-4, 6-2 and Federer handled Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-2, 6-2, 6-3. By default, Murray’s victory was most impressive because it came against a dangerous and seeded opponent, but all three big names looked primed for the later rounds.
With Nadal, Murray, Federer, David Ferrer and Novak Djokovic all still alive through three rounds, the quarterfinals, semifinals and championship will likely feature the biggest stars of men’s tennis. Fans couldn’t ask for much more than that.
Grigor Dimitrov Coming Into His Own
While an upset to one of the previously mentioned players would have turned far more heads, there was a notable defeat in the late third round.
No. 22 Grigor Dimitrov ended the Australian Open dreams of No. 11 Milos Raonic in four sets 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6. It would have been easy for Dimitrov to throw in the towel after dropping the first set, but he battled back to win the next three and move onto the fourth round.
The young Dimitrov, who is only 22 years old, told Douglas Robinson of USA Today that it was his preparation that had him ready for this critical match: “I think it's a great steppingstone for me to get into that second week that I keep talking about. But I have practiced a lot. I have done a lot of homework. So, to me, in a way it's a bit expected.”
It is worth noting that Dimitrov is dating Maria Sharapova, but the expectations are in place for him to make more headlines on the tennis court going forward. He is poised to make more noise at the Australian Open than he has at any previous Grand Slam.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Wants Revenge
In terms of straight-set victories, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s performance against No. 18 Gilles Simon took more determination than usual.
Not only does knocking off the No. 18-ranked player at the Australian Open require a full match worth of effort, Tsonga needed a tiebreaker to win the first set. He eventually took the momentum from that set to win 7-6, 6-4, 6-2.
It was the third consecutive match in which Tsonga won in straight sets.
However, Tsonga’s victory did not make as many headlines as his declaration that he is out for revenge in the fourth round against Federer. Federer knocked Tsonga off in a five-set thriller in the quarterfinals last year at the Australian Open.
Tsonga did beat Federer the last time the two met at the French Open last year.