As the first week draws to a close and the final third round matches played, things are getting serious Down Under as several of the contenders upped their game in what were cooler conditions. Some never really had to as their opponents supplied some presents along the way.
No gifts for Maria Sharapova though, who came through another tough test against the brilliant Alize Cornet who really couldn’t evoke French chic more if she tried. The former champ was faultless in the first set but battled hard against some inspired stuff later on.
Slovak number one Cibulkova has looked mightily impressive this tournament, scything through opponents with the loss of a handful of games, she could cause an upset if Maria doesn’t produce her A-game.
Vika Azarenka is producing comparable performances and after sailing through her third match losing just one game against Yvonne Meusburger will also come up against a sterner test on paper in a rematch of last year’s semi final here. Sloane Stephens, like the Belarussian was one of the few players who handed Serena a loss last year so she has the game and the mental belief.
Two other players to be relatively untroubled so far are Jelena Jankovc and Simona Halep, who meet next making this a very attractive 4th round half of the draw. Expect the Romanian to triumph and don’t be surprised of further wins next week.
Radwanska who hasn’t looked as comfortable as the other players in this half perhaps faces her toughest match yet against the unseeded Garbine Muguruza of Spain, who is really on form having won her first WTA title last week and who has already eliminated Kaia Kanepi and Caroline Wozniacki.
Rafael Nadal was truly immense in his dismantling of Gael Monfils in the evening headliner, and shouldn’t have much trouble with the resurgent but surely tiring Nishikori who overcame Donald Young.
There were victories for Grigor Dimitrov (over Raonic) and Del-Potro’s conqueror Bautista-Agut is next after easily despatching Benoit Paire.
Andy Murray, along with Roger Federer was one of the players who at times were gifted points by their opponents prone to a bit of self combustion. Deliciano Lopez faded alarmingly after losing the opening breaker to the Scott who’s easy draw continues against lucky-loser Stephane Robert.
Jo Wilfred Tsonga is next for the four time champ who has looked sharp so far but we’ve heard that before.
Day 6 – Seeds to fall
Day 6, Al’s Hero of the Day – Grigor Dimitrov
Nadal played so well, and some shots from Cornet were a joy to watch but Mr Sharapova played a blinder to take down the Canadian 11th seed;
particularly the fourth set tiebreaker.