It was another hot one in the land of Oz, which if nothing else exposed these professionals for the superhumans that they are. Most of us mere mortals would struggle after a leisurely stroll in the current temperatures of Melbourne Park.
The third day was mainly one of routine results, but despite the conditions, incredibly some were via many a marathon match in the Melbourne melting pot.
Day 1 hero and Kvitova-slayer Luksika Kumkhum joined that renowned club of players who, after causing major upsets in, er majors would promptly bow out immediately the next round. The folks at the brilliant Official Australian Open website have called it the Stakhovsky Syndrome, although many have succumbed before the Ukrainian demonstrated the trend so brilliantly at Wimbledon last year.
Speaking of heroes, and specifically the home-grown talent it was a bittersweet day. For every Casey Dellacqua and Sam Stosur making mincemeat of their dangerous opponents (Flipkens and Pironkova respectively) there was the headline-hogging return of one Pat Rafter.
Day 3 saw the beginning of the doubles competitions and Rafter, pairing up last minute with Lleyton Hewitt fell just short of a heartwarming story, going down 4-6, 5-7 to Butorac and Klaasen.
The marathon matches came in the form of, amongst others a ding-dong five-setter between Youzhny and eventual victor the comparatively diminutive and fellow veteran Florian Mayer and a hard fought victory in four for Jeremy Chardy over Dolgopolov.
Even the big-guns, Novak apart, were stretched as Wawrinka and Ferrer both battled hard to prevail in four sets, the Swiss in particular looked in trouble at times.
For the women it was the opposite side of things as more shocks surfaced with all but a few decided in one sided affairs. Only the war of attrition between big-hitting Pliskova and forever flakey Hantuchova reached marathon status – the Slovak surviving after 3 1/4 hours.
Serena – who looked stunning in her win today will be next, Williams leads the seasoned duo’s head to heads 8-1, her only loss coming in the second round right here eight years ago.
That is just one of numerous mouthwaterers that so frequent the magical round three of a Slam where seeds usually lock horns for the first time.
Day 3 Seeds to fall
Al’s Hero of the day – Ross Hutchins
Win or lose it was an easy choice today, but decent wins for Dellacqua, Querrey, Mayer and Niculescu warrant a mention.