Day 4 at Melbourne Park is all about Lleyton Hewitt as the Australian legend looks to extend his stay at what will be his final Australian Open. Standing in his way is the tenacious Spaniard David Ferrer, a man nicknamed ‘The Road Runner’.
World number two Andy Murray is also in action, with the Scot’s bid to pocket a grand slam title before rushing off to attend the birth of his first child still on course. Murray is up against Australian Sam Groth, with the big-serving Groth looking to become the first man from Down Under to beat Murray in a Tour-level match. Quite remarkably, Murray has never fallen foul of an Aussie during an ATP Tour match.
For good measure, there is another Australian in action too in the form of Bernard Tomic who meets Simone Bolelli of Italy.
Fourth seed Stan Wawrinka saw his path into the second round take an unfortunate turn when his opponent, Dmitry Tursunov, was forced to withdraw from their opening match due to injury. As a result, the 2014 Australian Open champion will be hoping to make his mark on the tournament when he faces Radek Stepanek on Hisense Arena.
In the women’s draw, second seed Simona Halep is conspicuous in her absence, with the Romanian one of the casualties from Day 2. As a result, it’s third seed Gabrine Muguruza who headlines the women’s action.
Last year’s semi-finalist and 15th seed Madison Keys is on court too, as is seventh seed Angelique Kerber, and ninth seed Karolina Pliskova.
It’s 14th seed Victoria Azarenka who may get the most attention though, with the Belarusian one of the in-form players at the tournament.
Matches not to miss:
David Ferrer v Lleyton Hewitt
Hewitt successfully navigated through the first round courtesy of a straight sets victory over compatriot James Duckworth, but he faces a significantly tougher opponent in the seventh-seed Ferrer in round two.
The pair have only met three times previously – each time at a grand slam. The pair will complete the grand slam set on Thursday, with Ferrer having won when they faced off at the US Open (2012), and the French Open (2008), while Hewitt was victorious in their first meeting at Wimbledon in 2006.
Hewitt has not beaten a top-10 player since Juan Martin del Potro at the 2013 US Open, while Ferrer has not lost to a player ranked as low as Hewitt (308th) in more than 13 years. The Australian is most certainly up against it.
Victoria Azarenka v Danka Kovinic
Azarenka arrived in Melbourne the back of a victory at the Brisbane International, and she continued that strong form in her opening match at the Australian Open, dispatching of Alison Van Uytvanck in emphatic style, 6-0, 6-0.
This has seen the two-time Australian Open champion vault into the role of the player viewed most capable of stopping Serena Williams. But, it’s still early days and before talk of a possible match-up with Williams can really be considered, she first has to get through Thursday’s match for starters.
Azarenka and Kovinic have never met before, and making her debut in the main draw, one imagines the world number 54 is happy just to be where she is. Azarenka, meanwhile, will not be happy with anything less than a top drawer performance, and seeing the former world number one in full flow is reason enough to keep your eyes glued to this one.
Rod Laver Arena
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) vs. Ana Ivanovic (SRB)
Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) vs. Garbine Muguruza (ESP)
Sam Groth (AUS) vs. Andy Murray (GBR)
David Ferrer (ESP) vs. Lleyton Hewitt (AUS)
Julia Goerges (GER) vs. Karolina Pliskova (CZE)
FOX Sports 2
Margaret Court Arena
Gael Monfils (FRA) vs. Nicolas Mahut (FRA)
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) vs. Danka Kovinic (MNE)
Madison Keys (USA) vs. Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ)
Angelique Kerber (GER) vs. Alexandra Dulgheru (ROU)
Bernard Tomic (AUS) vs. Simone Bolelli (ITA)
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