As the festivities in Melbourne unfold, Day Four promises closer, better played matches with a number of potential upsets likely to stir the pot.
Prime time for a reason, here is the match of the day. Two determined battlers with opposing styles and dispositions will talk the court on prime time. The winner between grunting, fussing Queen Victoria against the serene, finely-tuned, Grace Kelly-like Princess Caroline will likely pave the path for a serious title run by the victor. Both players are former world number ones. With 351 career wins and more than $24 million in winnings, Azarenka overpowered Sloane Stephens in round one. Wozniacki, with 403 career wins and more than $19 million in winnings has developed a marathon physique and in this match that just might be the difference. We look for the Princess to topple the Queen and ride into the late night landscape.
Australian Samantha Strosur played like her former top five self in her opening round 6-4, 6-1 win over Monica Niculescu. With an eye on the title and her second Grand Slam title, this is a match Stosur will not lose. Ranked 37th on the women’s tour, 23-year old American Coco Vandeweghe has managed upset wins in the past. She’ll have to start fast and withal the crowd distractions, that will be challenging. Coco has the talent, but in this venue, in this tournament against one of the biggest servers and forehands on the cycle, her chances are longer than the odds.
After losing in the first round in three Grand Slams last year, 33-year old German Benjamin Becker might feel he has climbed Mt. Everest in reaching the second round for only the second time since 2007. Former world number 1, Lleyton Hewitt is the perennial crowd favorite here and it is easy to see why. Regardless of the round or the competitor, there is never any quit in this hustling, determined sniper. Ranked 87th, one might wonder how Hewitt is the betting favorite. Fear not, you will see why on day four. Tireless, poised and determined, Hewitt will escape to the third round.
29-year old American, John Isner will view 2014 as a missed opportunity to climb the ranks and settle into the top ten. The question is, has his time come and gone? Long and lanky, Isner’s strength is his dynamic serve but his very apparent weaknesses are his return game and foot speed. A first round knockout at Melbourne last year, he is a heavy favorite to make the third round but is he a good bet? Austrian Andreas Haider-Maurer did not make the main draw here last year and was a first round loser at the US Open after reaching the second round in Paris and London. If Andreas poses a threat to Isner, he will earn his win with speed and endurance. He’ll need to break the big guy’s serve in three sets and hold his own. Don’t see that happening on Thursday.