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Australian Open: Day 4 Preview

No.8 seed Petra Kvitova faces Laura Robson in a tricky second round match at the Australian Open.

Published January 16, 2013 11:23

Australian Open: Day 4 Preview
Petra Kvitova

MELBOURNE, Australia - Petra Kvitova and Caroline Wozniacki may both be just 22, but they definitely represent the old guard in their much-anticipated second round matches with promising teenagers Laura Robson and Donna Vekic.

Thursday, Second Round

Rod Laver Arena
[8] Petra Kvitova (CZE #8) vs. Laura Robson (GBR #53)
Head-to-head:
first meeting
Last year saw Petra Kvitova pick up two titles, make the last four at two majors and come within a whisker of capturing the World No.1 ranking. However, for her very high standards, the Czech probably looked back upon the campaign with a tinge of regret. Her start to 2013 has not gone exactly to plan either, suffering early exits in Sydney and Brisbane before scraping past Francesca Schiavone in an inconsistent Melbourne Park opener.

In Robson, Kvitova faces one of the few players to rival her in terms of natural timing and shotmaking ability. After a few years spent struggling with the transition from the junior to pro ranks, the 18-year-old finally made her WTA breakthrough last summer, reaching the last 16 at the US Open. In New York, Robson surprised many with her proactive approach, taking the ball early and dictating many of the baseline exchanges against both Li Na and Kim Clijsters. More of the same will be required if she is to upset Kvitova and become the second Briton into the third round.

Hisense Arena
[10] Caroline Wozniacki (DEN #10) vs. Donna Vekic (CRO #111)
Head-to-head:
first meeting
At 16, Donna Vekic is the youngest competitor in the tournament, but in the opening round she delivered a performance of great maturity, and no little skill, to defeat Andrea Hlavackova for the loss of just three games. Her reward for this is a clash with former semifinalist and No.10 seed Caroline Wozniacki, who sneaked into the stands to watch the final set of Vekic's masterclass against Hlavackova.

Twelve months ago, Wozniacki was World No.1 and top seed in Melbourne, and while her ranking has slipped since she is as tough a competitor as ever; in the opening round she overcame a 3-0 final-set deficit to defeat Sabine Lisicki. Against Lisicki, her defensive prowess was on full display - she coughed up just eight unforced errors - and she will have to be similarly stingy when faced with Vekic's mightily impressive baseline ball-striking.

Margaret Court Arena
[26] Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE #27) vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS #75)
Head-to-head:
first meeting
Anyone who questioned Svetlana Kuznetsova's match fitness upon her return from a six-month injury layoff, was given their answer in Sydney last week as she battled through three rounds of qualifiers - and temperatures that scaled 109ºF - to reach the quarterfinals. And the Russian, who is unseeded at a major for the first time since 2003, kept up the momentum in Melbourne with a comfortable win over Lourdes Domínguez Lino on Tuesday.

While a dip in form and that knee injury saw Kuznetsova tumble down the rankings in 2012, heading in the opposite direction was Hsieh Su-Wei. Enjoying by far the best season in her career, Hsieh won two titles and, having starting it at No.172, finished the year within touching distance of the Top 20. Kuznetsova has one of the most complete games on tour and she will have to think on her feet out on the Margaret Court Arena when presented with Hsieh's smorgasbord of spins, angles and drop shots.

Around the grounds…
First up on Rod Laver, defending champion Victoria Azarenka meets the teak-tough Eleni Daniilidou, before being followed on court by Serena Williams, who takes on Garbiñe Muguruza. Other seeds in action include Maria Kirilenko, Lucie Safarova and Sloane Stephens.

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