Australian Open Day 6: Rod Laver Arena Match Previews and Predictions

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Victoria Azarenka v Jamie Hampton

The defending champion has cruised through her opening two matches, albeit without looking overly impressive. However, the key to these early rounds is simply to progress without expending too much energy, and that is something that Azarenka has done.

Jamie Hampton has enjoyed an excellent start to the year, reaching the semi-final in Auckland after good wins over the likes of Jie Zheng and Kiki Bertens, before losing in two tiebreaks to Agnieszka Radwanska. She has only dropped nine games so far in her two matches and will be up for the challenge.

It would be a monumental upset should Azarenka not win this, but I would fancy Hampton to keep the first set tight, particularly given the form she is in, before Azarenka pulls away in the second.

Prediction: Azarenka in straight sets

Serena Williams v Ayumi Morita

What more can be said about Serena that has not already been said. Unbeaten in almost eight months, having only dropped one set in that time, she is virtually unstoppable right now. She has only dropped two games in her two matches so far, and despite not being the top seed, she is the overwhelming favourite to lift the title.

Ayumi Morita had a good win against Hantuchova in Sydney and has had two impressive wins in comfortable fashion to reach the third round in Melbourne. However, she has already lost 1 and 1 to Shuai Peng and 1 and 0 to Na Li already this year, which does not bode well for her.

Serena will not lose this match. Simple as that. The only real question is whether Morita can avoid the double bagel. She has a chance to grab a game, but I doubt she gets more than that.

Prediction: Serena Williams with a double bagel

Ricardas Berankis v Andy Murray

The Lithuanian has had problems with injuries, but has shown flashes of his talent. A final in Los Angeles last year was his best result thus far, and he has come through qualifying here, before a very impressive performance against Florian Mayer in the second round to book his place against Murray.

The US Open champion has started his campaign with surprising ease. He often throws in a dodgy performance early on, but has cruised past Robin Haase and Joao Sousa with few problems. Berankis will certainly be a tougher challenge that either of those two, but he does not have the game to really challenge Andy Murray at this stage.

Murray is full of confidence and, having finally got rid of the monkey on his back by winning at Flushing Meadows, is expected to go all the way to the final. I cannot see him slipping up at this stage.

Prediction: Murray in three straight-forward sets

Bernard Tomic v Roger Federer

The highlight match of the day. The Australian, touted as a future Grand Slam champion, against arguably the greatest player in history.

After a disappointing 2012, Tomic has been a revelation this year. He beat Novak Djokovic in the Hopman Cup, backed that up by clinching his first title in Sydney, and has now reached the third round of his home slam. His serve has been firing and his ground game is causing plenty of problems for his opponents.

There was talk that Federer would be coming into this tournament cold, having not played any warm-up tournaments. However, he has cruised past Benoit Paire and Nikolay Davydenko with little trouble, and will certainly be relishing putting the youngster back in his place.

It should be an intriguing match and the crowd will be fully behind Bernard Tomic. However, as well as he has been playing this year, his return game was poor against Brands in the last round, and Federer will almost certainly create a few opportunities on the Tomic serve. I fancy Federer to make it through this test.

Prediction: Roger Federer to win in three tight sets

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