Feature: Kyrgios prepared for pressure
Nick Kyrgios talks about the pressure on him, playing abilities and his hopes for the Australian Open 2018.
Two matches down. Five to go. That’s what players are thinking as they come to Melbourne Park on Friday looking to punch their ticket into the fourth round of 2018 Australian Open 2018. Here’s six mouth-watering match-ups to enjoy on Day 5.
No.3 Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) vs. No.32 Andrey Rublev (RUS)
This is revenge time for Grigor Dimitrov. Andrey Rublev took out Dimitrov 7-5 7-6(3) 6-3 at the 2017 US Open, so there is some extra spice to this one. Dimitrov had a horror day returning serve off the forehand wing in New York, only making 56 per cent (10/18) in the deuce court, and an even lower 39 per cent (7/18) in the ad court. Dimitrov had no problem with this specific shot in his second round five-set victory over Mackenzie McDonald on Wednesday evening, making 77 per cent (50/65) of forehand returns overall for the match. Dimitrov has improved a lot since New York, and will have an extra edge in this one that will help carry him to victory.
PREDICTION: Dimitrov in four sets
2. No.1 Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. No.30 Damir Dzumhur (BIH)
More revenge on tap at the 2018 Australian Open as the world No.1 looks to atone for losing to Dzumhur in Miami in 2016. The Spaniard actually had to retire, going down 2-6 6-4 3-0 RET. What does Dzumhur do so well? He can run like the wind, and puts an incredible amount of balls back in play. If Nadal is just a little bit off with either his forehand or backhand, then Dzumhur has all the tools to cause the upset.
PREDICTION: Nadal in five sets
3. No.17 Nick Kyrgios vs. No.15 Jo Wilfried Tsonga
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was down 1-4 and 2-5 in the fifth set against young Canadian Denis Shapovalov. The Frenchman stormed back in spectacular style to win 7-5 and book his ticket against Kyrgios. Shapovalov only made four of 13 first serves in his last two service games to open the door for Tsonga to attack his second serve. That’s not going to happen against Kyrgios, who is rated as the sixth best server in the past 25 years.
PREDICTION: Kyrgios in four sets
4. No.2 Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) vs No.32 Kiki Bertens (NED)
They have played twice and Wozniacki won in straight sets both times. Bertens looked very good defeating Catherine Bellis in the opening round, and Nicole Gibbs on Wednesday. The Gibbs match was the perfect warm-up to play Wozniacki, as the American puts so many balls back in play. Bertens will have to be at her absolute best to score an upset here, and also attack the net to keep points shorter. Bertens has won a healthy 69 per cent (18/26) at net so far in the tournament, and going to the net 20 times in this match may not be such a bad idea.
PREDICTION: Wozniacki in two sets.
5. No.7 Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) vs. No.33 Anett Kontaveit (EST)
Estonia and Latvia go head-to-head in Melbourne. Ostapenko plays a very aggressive game style, notching up 63 winners in her first two matches here. She hit 24 off the forehand wing, and 16 from the backhand, but those two groundstrokes have also racked up 91 errors as well, which is where Konteveit will look to find her advantage.
PREDICTION: Ostapenko in two sets
6. No.79 Kaia Kanepi (EST) vs. No.39 Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP)
What a great opportunity to reach the fourth round for these unseeded players. Kanepi leads the head-to-head 5-3, but all their matches were from 2009-2014. Suarez Navarro will be looking to hit as many forehands as possible in this match to control the flow of points from the back of the court. She has hit 36 forehand winners so far, and just 13 off the backhand wing. Kanepi will use her power game to try and punch her ticket to the fourth round.
PREDICTION: Suarez Navarro in three sets