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Five matches to watch on Day 3 of AO 2021

  • Gillian Tan

The weather is warming up on Wednesday, and so is the tennis. We pick five of the best matches on offer as Australian Open 2021 kicks into round two.

MORE: Day 3 schedule of play

Venus Williams v Sara Errani [Q] 

It’s a welcome blast from the past – these two haven’t clashed since the 2014 US Open, when the Italian toughed out a third set tie-break to notch her first win over the American in four attempts. At 40 years young, Williams' competitive fire burns bright as she contests her 21st Australian Open and 88th Grand Slam, an Open Era record. A finalist here in 2003 and 2017, the powerful right-hander is looking to halt Errani’s comeback. The Italian former World No. 5, who came through qualifying and upset 30th seed Qiang Wang in the opening round, is seeking to return to the third-round in Melbourne for the first time since 2015. 

Nick Kyrgios v Ugo Humbert [29]

Revenge is a dish best served cold and the 25 year-old Australian is on a mission to freeze the Frenchman out of Australian Open 2021. Umbert won the pair’s only meeting last February in Acapulco after Kyrgios was forced to retire with a wrist injury. 12 months on and after a hiatus from the sport, the Canberra-born 25 year-old is hunting another deep run in Melbourne and will have fans onside. But Kyrgios needs to bring his best to cause an upset: Umbert had the ninth-best season of any ATP World Tour player in 2020, with titles in Auckland and Antwerp, and top 10 wins over Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev.

Nick Kyrgios remains a danger to any opponent

Iga Swiatek [15] v Camila Giorgi

How’s this for a role reversal? Much has changed since AO 2019 when Giorgi, seeded 27th, dismantled the young Pole, 6-2, 6-0. Then, Swiatek made her Grand Slam debut as a qualifier ranked 177th but two years on, the 19 year-old reigning Roland Garros champion has abundantly more experience under her belt. Denied a quarterfinal berth in Melbourne last year by Anett Kontaveit, Swiatek enters this battle on a 16-set winning streak at majors and will aim to capitalise on being seeded after ascending to a career high of World No. 17.

Novak Djokovic [1] v Frances Tiafoe

In a match up many have been waiting for, Djokovic’s unprecedented dominance in Melbourne Park will be tested in his first ever meeting against the 23 year-old American. Tiafoe dismissed in-form Italian Stefano Travaglia in straight sets in the opening round and his best results at a major came at AO 2019, when he upset seeds including Kevin Anderson and Grigor Dimitrov, before falling to Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals. Still, no player is more at home on Rod Laver Arena than the Serbian eight-time champion, who at 33 is chasing his 18th major title which will put him two shy of Nadal and Roger Federer. 

Novak Djokovic cruised through his opening round clash

Naomi Osaka [3] v Caroline Garcia 

Another inaugural face-off? We’ll take it. The 23 year-old Japanese sensation takes on the French former World No. 4, who is on the comeback trail. The 27 year-old Garcia has a track record of eliminating seeds at majors, most recently Kontaveit and Elise Mertens at Roland Garros 2020 and Karolina Pliskova at the US Open a month earlier. But the ever-composed Osaka, the AO 2019 champion, has played near-flawless tennis since arriving down under. She dropped just three games in her opening round defeat of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and is undoubtedly keen to extend her 15-match winning streak and keep a fourth major crown within reach.

Wednesday shapes as a warm one, so it will pay to keep cool