Australian Open 2016: Day 5 Preview

Former World number One Lleyton Hewitt’s career has come to an end as the Australian played his last match in front of his home crowd but was beaten by the eighth seeded Spaniard David Ferrer in straight sets on the Rod Laver Arena. The 2005 runner up in Melbourne who won the 2001 U.S. Open and 2002 Wimbledon gave his “100%” and made the Spaniard battle for more than two-and-a-half hours in front of his adoring fans, but Ferrer prevailed 6-2,6-4,6-4.

Earlier in the day the second seeded Andy Murray dropped just five games against another Australian Sam Groth on Margaret Court Arena winning 6-0,6-4,6-1 in just 90 minutes. Equally impressive was the 2014 champion Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland who beat the veteran Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic 6-2,6-3,6-4. However the conqueror of Rafael Nadal was brought down to earth by the Israeli Dudi Sela who won in four sets 4-6,6-3,6-3,7-6(4) in 2 hours and 49 minutes.

Two Australians did progress to the round of 32 much to the delight of the crowd. 16th seeded Bernard Tomic finished the evening schedule with a hard fought four set win over the Italian Simone Bolelli 6-4,6-2,6-7(5),7-5 to set up a clash against compatriot John Millman who needed five sets to beat the left handed Giles Muller of Luxembourg 4-6,6-4,6-2,4-6,7-5 in a match lasting 3 hours and 37 minutes. The Frenchman Gael Monfils, Milos Raonic of Canada, Victor Troicki of Serbia, Americans John Isner and Steve Johnson advanced with straight set wins on Thursday.

Other winners included Portugal’s Joao Sousa who beat the Colombian Santiago Giraldo in four sets while the veteran Spanish left hander Feliciano Lopez won a marathon four and a half hour duel against the Argentine Guido Pella. He slammed down 42 aces, winning 6-4 in the fifth set after the duo split the first four sets in tie-breakers. In another five set encounter which lasted 3 hours 36 minutes, the Frenchman Stephane Robert prevailed over the American Rajeev Ram.

Two lower seeds exited as another American Jack Sock, seeded 25th was beaten by Lucas Rosol of the Czech Republic, and the 30th seeded Frenchman Jeremy Chardy,  who was coming off a five set first round win, could offer little resistance to the Russian Andrey Kuznetsov. Both were eliminated in straight sets.

On Day 5 there will eight men’s matches scheduled. Novak Djokovic will play the Italian Andreas Seppi who led the world number One by two sets to none, in the fourth round of French Open 2012 before the Serb came from behind to win in five. Seppi also knocked out Roger Federer at the same stage last year in Melbourne. Federer will play the Bulgarian Grigor Dmitrov who will look to make amends after a miserable 2015. Canberra native Nick Kyrgios will take on the sixth seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic on the Rod Laver Arena.

Following are the round of 32 matches to be played with my pick mentioned first :-

Novak Djokovic (1) v. Andreas Seppi (28)
Gilles Simon (14) v. Federico Delbonis
Jo-Wilfred Tsonga (9) v. Pierre Hugues-Herbert
Kei Nishikori (7) v. Guillermo Garcia Lopez (26)
Roger Federer (3) v. Grigor Dmitrov (27)
David Goffin (15) v. Dominic Thiem (19)
Marin Cilic (12) v. Roberto Bautista Agut (24)
Tomas Berdych (6) v. Nick Kyrgios (29)

In the ladies section two time former champion Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and Wimbledon runner up Garbine Muguruza of Spain moved within one win of a possible fourth round meeting as both registered easy wins over Danka Kovinic of Montenegro and Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium respectively. Also advancing, in  among seeded players, were Angelique Kerber, Ekaterina Makarova, Karolina Pliskova, and Ana Ivanovic. China’s Shuai Zhang who had upset the second seeded Simona Halep followed up with a good win over the Frenchwoman Alize Cornet while the two Madison’s of the U.S., Keys and Brengle needed three sets to advance.

Briton Johanna Konta, Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic and the American Varvara Lepchenko advanced in two sets but four lower seeds joined the exodus of seeds in the bottom half of the draw. The top Swiss woman Timea Bacsinsky fell to the German Annika Beck in straight sets as did the Ukrainian Elina Svitolina who lost to Naomi Osaka of Japan. The Serb Jelena Jankovic lost to another German Laura Siegemund in three sets, but Siegemund’s compatriot Sabine Lisicki was beaten by Denisa Allertova of the Czech Republic also in three sets.

– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: sportzcosmos@gmail.com]

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