Australian Open Thursday Preview
Published January 20, 2010 01:19
MELBOURNE, Australia - The third round match-ups have already been determined in the bottom half of the draw. On Thursday, the players in the top half bid to join their colleagues.
Karolina Sprem (Cro #92) vs. [WC] Casey Dellacqua (AUS #980)
Dellacqua leads 1-0
Twenty-five-year-old Sprem's appearance in second round here represents the first time she has advanced past the first round of a Grand Slam since Wimbledon in 2006. Part of the reason for that is she was out of action for 10 months after right elbow surgery in 2007. For her part, lefty Dellacqua earned her place in the main draw by winning the Australian Open wildcard playoff last month. Her return to the Tour after shoulder surgery has been rocky, with first round losses as a wildcard at both Brisbane and Hobart to beatable players. Having edged Anastasiya Yakimova in the first round, Dellacqua now has a chance to prove she's turned a corner. Melbourne Park was, of course, the scene of her breakthrough run to the fourth round two years ago, and the late night scheduling should produce more magic.
Gisela Dulko (ARG #36) vs.  Ana Ivanovic (SRB #21)
Ivanovic leads 2-0
Dulko has won just four of her last 20 matches against Top 20 players, but the 24-year-old got her season off to a solid start with a quarterfinal effort at Hobart, and having narrowly missed out on a seeding this fortnight is just the sort of opponent that can give Ivanovic trouble. In short, the Argentine's a cool customer who can chase down balls all day - certainly long enough to give the Serbian star time to make the first error - and is more than capable at the net as well. Ivanovic won their sole hardcourt meeting at Indian Wells last year without much trouble, but since then Dulko has underlined her class with a big win over Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon. At the very least this match will provide a guide as to the level struggling Ivanovic is really at.
Show Court 2
Stefanie Voegele (SUI #74) vs.  Victoria Azarenka (BLR #7)
Not only is this the first encounter between Voegele and Azarenka, it is only Voegele's second meeting against a Top 10 player, having been beaten by Venus Williams at Wimbledon last year. The 19-year-old is trying to make the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time, whereas the last time 20-year-old Azarenka failed to make the third round of a major was at Roland Garros in 2007. On the face of it, Azarenka's explosive power should keep that record intact, but the quietly-spoken Voegele enjoyed one of the biggest rankings jumps in 2009 and toughed out a marathon three-setter against higher-rated Melinda Czink in her opener here. The reward is a chance to show she has what it takes to be the next Swiss Miss.
More to watch…
The host nation's best hope, No.13 seed Samantha Stosur, plays Kristina Barrois of Germany second on Rod Laver Arena, while the Williams sister headline the action on Hisense Arena, with Venus facing Sybille Bammer and Serena tackling Petra Kvitova. No.4 seed Caroline Wozniacki tackles Julia Goerges on Margaret Court Arena, while No.22 seed Daniela Hantuchova plays Sofia Arvidsson on Court 2 and tenth seed Agnieszka Radwanska plays Alla Kudryavtseva on Court 3.