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Australian Open Day 4 Preview

Who will win the battle of the big servers: Alicia or Nadia? And can Bojana upset Vera's apple cart?

Published January 19, 2011 12:00

Australian Open Day 4 Preview
Bojana Jovanovski

Second Round, Thursday

Rod Laver Arena
[13] Nadia Petrova (RUS #15) d. [WC] Alicia Molik (AUS #134)
Head-to-Head: Tied at 1-1
You've got to hand it to the Aussies: pretty much every year at least one of them does something special on Rod Laver Arena to set the tournament alight. On Monday it was wildcard Molik who turned back the clock, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat against Roberta Vinci with a gutsy, if not entirely vintage performance. Consequently, fans are in for a treat when two of the biggest servers in women's tennis face off for a place in the third round (and indeed for the first time since Zürich in 2004, when Molik beat the Russian on her way to the title). The essential challenge confronting Molik is that Petrova's groundstrokes are superior, and she's also not afraid of the net. It might take an out-of-body experience for the local favorite to prevail, but she'll leave everything on the court in trying.

Hisense Arena
[7] Jelena Jankovic (SRB #8) vs. Peng Shuai (CHN #54)
Head-to-Head : Jankovic leads 6-1
Believe it or not, Jankovic's first round defeat of Alla Kudryavtseva was the former No.1's first match win since Beijing last October, with which she finally snapped a six-match losing streak. And yet despite all the ups and downs, Jankovic has been ranked in the Top 10 since February 2007, the longest current streak. Needless to say, if her status is to hold up, she needs to repeat her impressive first half of 2010 (32-12 through Wimbledon), starting now. For her part, Peng, who beat Jankovic last time they met (Beijing 2009) missed most of last summer with illness and injury and slumped to her lowest year-end ranking in six years. Ominously, though, the Chinese No.3 reached the semis at both Auckland and Hobart earlier this month. Somewhat overshadowed by her compatriots Li Na and Zheng Jie, this might just be her moment to shine.

Bojana Jovanovski (SRB #58) vs. [2] Vera Zvonareva (RUS #2)
Head-to Head: First meeting
The youngest member of the Top 100, Jovanovski began the year as the fourth-highest ranked teenager, but by virtue of her semifinal run at Sydney last week, the thoughtful 19-year-old is now teen No.3. And, though playing just her third main draw at a major, Jovanovski has been busy collecting classy experience of late, including wins over Kaia Kanepi, Aravane Rezai and Flavia Pennetta at Sydney, and fellow Serb Jankovic at Beijing. Clearly, she has the potential to test Zvonareva. However, the Russian, gunning for a third Grand Slam final in a row - and hopefully more - hasn't lost to a player ranked outside the Top 50 since San Diego last August. Assuming Jovanovski doesn't get under her skin, her beautifully complete game should hold sway, and provide some guide as to her prospects for Grand Slam glory next week.

More to watch…
Kim Clijsters opens proceedings on Rod Laver Arena against Carla Suárez Navarro, while Samantha Stosur faces Vera Dushevina under the lights. No.10 seed Shahar Peer plays Sorana Cirstea on Margaret Court Arena, where No.31 seed Lucie Safarova later takes on fellow Czech Klara Zakopalova. Agnieszka Radwanska, the No.12 seed, plays Croatia's Petra Martic on Show Court 2, while María José Martínez Sánchez, the No.26 seed, meets Alizé Cornet on Show Court 3.

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