By Jake Davies

  • Angelique Kerber [21] vs Maria Sharapova
  • Tomas Berdych [19] vs Juan Martin Del Potro [12]
  • Roger Federer [2] vs Richard Gasquet [29]
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – The third round concludes with perhaps the biggest line-up so far this tournament – here are our three-to-see.

 

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Angelique Kerber [21] vs Maria Sharapova H2H: Sharapova leads 4-3

Maria Sharapova in the second round of the Australian Open 2018 | Jimmie48 Tennis Photograpy

A match between two former Australian Open champions will take place as early as the third round stage with Angelique Kerber facing Maria Sharapova. Sharapova just about edges a very tight head-to-head of 4-3, while the two are level when it comes to Grand Slam meetings. Kerber won a Round of 16 match in 2014 Wimbledon, a surface that Kerber has excelled on, while Sharapova did beat the German at the Australian Open in 2012, but a lot has definitely changed since then.

I think we are starting to see the form from Kerber that took her to two Grand Slam titles. I still think we will see Sharapova return to the top 10 very soon, but Kerber’s performances in Hopman Cup and in Sydney suggest that she means business this season with her new coach Wim Fissette.

Prediction: Kerber in three sets

 

Tomas Berdych [19] vs Juan Martin Del Potro [12] H2H: Del Potro leads 5-4

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In a battle of the giants in professional tennis, Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych will attempt to topple the 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro in their third round encounter. The Argentine is in the better form after making the final in Auckland at the ASB Classic, while Berdych suffered a defeat in his first match back in Doha, but beat two good players in his first two rounds here in Melbourne.

It should be a match that is decided by a break of serve here and there. Both can slam down heavy first serves and roll through their service games quickly. What I would be looking out for is how Berdych manages his forehand strike. The upside of his forehand is nearly as great as Del Potro’s but Berdych’s forehand is suspect under pressure. Del Potro seems to be able to deliver hammer blows with that particular shot in his sleep.

I think I am slightly leaning towards Berdych in this match. Del Potro struggled with a left hamstring injury in the match prior to this, so will the Argentinian be back at 100% in time for a very difficult third round?

Prediction: Berdych in four sets

 

Roger Federer [2] vs Richard Gasquet [29] H2H: Federer leads 16-2

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Richard Gasquet is cruising through his draw at an unbelievable pace, but he has got his work cut out when he meets Roger Federer in the third round of the Australian Open on Day Six. It will be an attractive match with two aesthetically pleasing one-handed backhands taking to the court, but Gasquet is going to have to find a way to make his elegant game an effective one as he tries to overturn a damning head-to-head record against the World No.2

Gasquet is going to have to come out of his comfort zone to win this one. Over the years, Gasquet has been guilty of spending way too much time behind the baseline and not enough time taking advantage of the shorter replies of his opponent. Giving up court to Federer effectively hands the initiative to the Swiss and enables him to impose his will on his opponent. Gasquet has to take the backhand nice and early. Just like Federer has been doing with considerable aplomb over the last twelve months.

Prediction: Federer in three sets

 

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