The Australian Open is slowly heading to a climax just as the temperatures begin soaring. On the sixth day, Novak Djokovic and Milos Raonic still showed their strength in straight sets victories over their rivals while Stan Wawrinka played like a champion after struggling in earlier rounds. Serena Williams started slowly, dropped a set against Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina and then bounced back to win the match. Two other women; Agnieszka Radwanska and Victoria Azarenka won in two sets against their rivals but fourth seed Czech Petra Kvitova made an unceremonious exit in her loss against USA’s Madison Keys. In other notable matches; Japan’s Kei Nishikori and Spain’s David Ferrer moved to fourth round with four-set triumphs over their rivals and Venus Williams made her presence felt after long time in a Grand Slam Tournament.
Novak Djokovic is playing top-quality tennis at Melbourne Park this year. The top-seeded Serb is yet to drop a set in his three matches so far. On day 6, he wasn’t afraid of his match against Spain’s Fernando Verdasco having been billed as the match of the day. Djokovic had some problems in first set that had to be decided on tie-break but once that was done, he assumed control. Despite a spirited and excellent display from the Spaniard, Djokovic didn’t allow his opponent much room in cruising through with a 7-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory.
Another guy, who has shown marvelous form in his three matches, is Canadian Milos Raonic. On Saturday, Raonic was up against Germany’s Benjamin Becker, who looked sheepish against the powerful game from the Canadian. Pounding 22 aces on the fast court of the Hisense Arena, Raonic made the German dance to his tunes with a convincing 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 straight sets victory in 101 minutes. The eighth seeded Canadian had his service broken for the first time in the tournament but that didn’t deter him from outplaying the German. For a place in the quarterfinal, the 24-year-old Raonic will face the Spaniard 12th seed Feliciano Lopez, who won a tough three-set battle against Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz.
Switzerland’s defending champion Stanislas Wawrinka played strongly in his third round match against Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen. After looking shaky in rounds 1 & 2, Wawrinka produced a red-hot performance in demolishing the Finn 6-4 6-2 6-4. Firing 55 winners past the 33-year-old Nieminen, Wawrinka displayed his intent at the Melbourne Park. Appearing at the Rod Laver Arena 24 hours after Federer was shocked by Andreas Seppi on the same court; the 29-year-old Swiss prevented himself from the same fate as his compatriot. For the place in the quarterfinals, Wawrinka will face the veteran Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who defeated Canadian Vasek Pospisil 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 in another third round match.
Five-time women’s champion Serena Williams began her match against Ukrainian Elina Svitolina in a slow rhythm, which allowed Svitolina broke Serena’s service with ease and then took the first set from the no.1 seed. Serena looked perplexed and a little uninterested as she fiddled with her shoelaces. But Serena is not world no.1 for nothing. She managed to come back in the match by sheer will power and began winning points on his booming first-serve and found her footing and her 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 victory showed the clear stamp of her authority. But Serena had better be watchful from now onwards and needs to start strong.
In a tense and scrappy match, two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka fought out her third round battle with Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic. Though the score-line of 6-4, 6-4 loos innocuous, the two women sweated for two hours in a hard grind in a tight match. The 25th seed Strycova’s game was full of an unorthodox mixture of ground strokes, spins and sharply angled shots that made Azarenka quite uncomfortable at times. The Belarusian however is a determined player, whose 2014 season was marred with a myriad of injuries. But she wants all that to be left behind and return to her aggressive ways as soon as possible. It is creditable, therefore that despite struggles, Vika kept off a dangerous opponent, whose game saw a lot of improvement in recent times.
In other notable matches on Friday, Japanese sensation Kei Nishikori progressed to fourth round with a 6-7, 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 victory over USA’s Steve Johnson; Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller defeated another American the 19th seed John Isner in straight sets 7-6, 7-6, 6-4; Venus Williams showed sparks of her old days with a three-set win over Italy’s Camila Giorgi; David Ferrer saw off Frenchman Gilles Simon in four sets and Spain’s Garbine Muguruza defeated Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky in three sets. In two other women’s third round matches, Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska demolished USA’s Varvara Lepchenko 6-0, 7-5 and USA’s Madison Keys shocked Petra Kvitova with a straight sets exit. In men’s doubles, top seeds Bryan brothers defeated the Argentine pair of Leonardo Mayer and Carlos Berlocq after losing the first set.