Day 5 Australian Open Headlines
— The top men advanced without issue. Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, John Isner, Milos Raonic and even Gael Monfils all won in straight sets. So did David Ferrer, ending Lleyton Hewitt’s career as a singles player. (The former World No. 1 who won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open is still playing in doubles with fellow Aussie Sam Groth.)
— After grueling five-set victories in the first round, Jack Sock (to Lukas Rosol), Jeremy Chardy (to Andrey Kuznetsov) and Fernando Verdasco (to Dudi Sela) all lost their next match.
— Some more seeds fell on the women’s side, though none were major upsets. Timea Bacsinszky (who came into the tournament injured), Elina Svitolina, Jelena Jankovic and Sabine Lisicki were all bounced, leaving just 14 seeds in the third round, an Open Era low, according to ESPN. With the third round being the first time seeds can face each other, just such two matches will occur over the next couple days. Madison Keys avoided joining the vanquished, coming from a set down to defeat Yaroslava Shvedova.
— Vika Azarenka and Garbine Muguruza continued their march toward a fourth round showdown. Azarenka’s match-to-match focus really stands out, as not often do the top players go full throttle in each of the early rounds. Even late in blowout wins, she’s pumping her fist and treating each point as if the match depends on it.
Day 6 Marquee Matches
Roger Federer (3) vs Grigor Dimitrov (27)
These two played a tight three-setter in Brisbane recently that saw Federer come through. Some will hope for a similar scoreline, but Federer was ill at that point, and while Federer’s not playing perfect tennis at the moment, the onus is on the perplexing Dimitrov to step up and deliver his top game in order to make this a match. Unless the pressure-packed stage of Rod Laver Arena against the 17-time Slam champion is a propelling force rather than a stifling one, it’s hard to see Federer playing so poorly as to let the Bulgarian steal this one.
Prediction: Federer in three with one tiebreaker
Tomas Berdych (6) vs Nick Kyrgios (29)
The true headliner of the day, airing deep in the night in the U.S. unfortunately. Kyrgios has been his usual electric yet erratic self so far, while Berdych has churned out a couple easy wins. Despite the hype around the young Aussie, Berdych is no doubt the better player. The question is if the atmosphere and home crowd tilts this match in favor of Kyrgios, who is neither a great returner nor a dedicated grinder from the baseline. He’s the popular upset pick, but he’ll likely need to get to a tiebreaker or two.
Prediction: Berdych in five
Serena Williams (1) vs Daria Kasatkina
This will likely be a blowout, but Kasatkina has quickly made a name for herself. Just 18, the young Russian who won Roland Garros in the juniors is proving to have a mature game for her age. She looks to be among the top of the next wave of talent, and regardless of the score, how she competes against the most dominant woman in the sport will be interesting to watch.
Prediction: Williams in straights
Other notable matches (with predictions):
Novak Djokovic over Andreas Seppi in 3
Aga Radwanska over Monica Puig in 2
Maria Sharapova over Lauren Davis in 2
Kei Nishikori over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in 4
Marin Cilic over Roberto Bautista-Agut in 4
Dominic Thiem over David Goffin in 4
Daria Gavrilova over Kiki Mladenovic in 3
Belinda Bencic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to advance as well