Heather Watson v Agnieszka Radwanska
While the quality of her tennis has been questionable thus far, her heart and fighting qualities simply cannot be questioned. Twice now Watson has come from a set and a break down, even saving three match points against Pervak. She is struggling on serve and hitting too many unforced errors, but she never stops running and deserves credit for having reached the third round.
Radwanska is one of the most in-form players on tour in 2013. Still yet to drop a set in eleven matches, she has two titles under her belt. Her demolition of Cibulkova in the final in Sydney shows what she can do to top quality players, and she is a definite runner for a minimum of a semi-final, and possibly even a second Grand Slam final.
Sadly for British tennis fans, I don’t think that Watson stands a chance. She does not have the power to hit winners against a player of the quality of Radwanska and her serve is vulnerable. This could be a demolition.
Prediction: Radwanska to lose no more than four games
Ana Ivanovic v Jelena Jankovic
The battle between the two Serbs, who have a bit of history, sees two former world number ones do battle. They do not get on off the court, although their relationship has warmed a little in recent months. Ana Ivanovic remains an enigma – she is just as capable of blowing an opponent off the court in a barrage of winners as she is of completely self-imploding in a shower of unforced errors. Indeed, she regularly combines the two extremes in the same match, as seen in her three set win over Yung-Jan Chan.
Jelena Jankovic has struggled over the past twelve months to find consistency and form. However, she can still be a dangerous player and she will be desperate to raise her game against her compatriot. Whether she has the quality to beat an in-form Ivanovic is debatable, but which Ivanovic turns up is to be seen.
Ivanovic leads the H2H 8-3, although it is almost two years since their last match. The match will really depend on which Ivanovic takes the court, or at least which Ivanovic turns up for longer periods of the match.
Prediction: Ivanovic in three sets
Kevin Anderson v Fernando Verdasco
The big South African has been in good form since the end of last season. Two wins out of three in the Hopman Cup and a run to the final in Sydney demonstrated the danger that he can pose on the hard courts. He has a big serve, but he arguably has more talent in the rallies than a lot of the big servers on tour.
I suspect Verdasco would like to forget all about 2012. It was a hugely disappointing year for the Spaniard, although 2013 has hardly started in better form. He won the Hopman Cup title, albeit thanks to the performances of Medina Garrigues – Verdasco actually lost three of his four singles matches. He came past the talented David Goffin in the first round before beating an ailing Malisse in round two.
Verdasco has the talent, but whether he has the form right now to put the big South African off his stride is debatable. Anderson is serving excellently, which puts plenty of pressure on his opponent’s service games, and Verdasco could struggle.
Prediction: Anderson to win in four sets
Jurgen Melzer v Tomas Berdych
Melzer is a shadow of the player that broke into the top 10 a couple of years ago. He lost to an inspired Greg Jones in Auckland last week, and beat an unfit Mikhail Kukushkin in the first round. Credit where credit is due, he battled hard against the in-form Spaniard, Roberto Bautista-Agut, to come through in five sets, but that is likely to have taken a lot out of the Austrian.
Tomas Berdych has barely been troubled thus far, with easy victories over Michael Russell and Guillaume Rufin. On his day, he can beat any of the top players, and he will be eyeing up a quarterfinal clash with Novak Djokovic.
Obviously, Berdych cannot look past Melzer, but I would be hugely surprised if he even dropped a set, let alone came close to losing this match.
Prediction: Berdych in straight sets