The competition is heating up in Melbourne, as Abelson Info take a closer look at the third round clashes set to take place on Day 5...
'Ivanovic has yet to lose a match this year, picking up the title in Auckland before making short work of her previous opponents as the former world number one appears to be hitting some solid form at just the right time'
Having coasted through the opening two rounds, world number one Serena Williams looks set for more of the same when she takes on Daniela Hantuchova. After overpowering Vesna Dolonc in the last round to reach yet another milestone by sealing her 60th career match win at the Australian Open, the American ace is in ominous form and doesn't appear to be too bothered by the heat.
She has rattled off five consecutive straight sets victories over her next opponent, and leads 8-1 in their head-to-head record, which all suggests that Williams will be awaiting the winner of Sam Stosur's encounter with Ana Ivanovic in the fourth round.
The home favourite duly delivered last time out with an assured performance, although her Serbian rival will be a step up in class and difficulty as the pair split their last two meetings in 2013. Ivanovic has yet to lose a match this year, picking up the title in Auckland before making short work of her previous opponents as the former world number one appears to be hitting some solid form at just the right time. Stosur reached the semi-finals in Hobart earlier this month, and despite having the backing of the local crowd, she may well be meeting Ivanovic at the wrong time. The Serbian star is the favourite, so look into the games betting market for this one, as it is likely to be a real battle for both players.
Elsewhere, fourth seed Na Li will be expected to avoid any slip-ups when she faces Lucie Safarova, and she will be further buoyed moving forward by the absence of some big names in her quarter of the draw. The Chinese star has made the final in Melbourne on two previous occasions, and she looks good to make it to at least the latter stages if she can hold her nerve and continue to produce solid tennis.
Meanwhile, it is undoubtedly worth monitoring the progress of Eugenie Bouchard who appears to be going from strength to strength and has a real chance of making progress in Australia this year. Having moved up to world number 31, the teenage Canadian star faces a fellow young talent in Lauren Davis, and with either Jie Zheng or Casey Dellacqua waiting in the next round, a quarter-final clash against Serena is the prize on offer.
Angelique Kerber should be among those to successfully make the next round although Alison Riske will be hopeful of ending her run, while Flavia Pennetta, fresh from a memorable 2013, looks intent on proving that it wasn't merely a temporary upturn in fortunes. The Italian raced up to world number 29 after her impressive Grand Slam runs last year, and although she has never faced Mona Barthel before, eight years her junior, she can be quietly optimistic that her tournament will go on.
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