Australian Open: Day 8 Preview
Published January 20, 2013 03:46
Monday, Fourth Round
Rod Laver Arena
 Caroline Wozniacki (DEN #10) vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS #75)
Head-to-head: Wozniacki leads 5-3
Kuznetsova may have missed much of the past six months recovering from a knee injury, but she has looked as good as ever in Melbourne Park. After breezing through the first few matches, the Russian passed her first real test to see off Carla Suárez Navarro over three rollercoaster sets in the third round.
Next up, she faces Caroline Wozniacki in a rematch of their recent encounter in Sydney. On that occasion, Kuznetsova persevered to record her first win in five against the Dane. Like Kuznetsova, Wozniacki is relatively fresh, having dropped just one set thus far and will be further buoyed by her record in Melbourne, where she has reached the quarterfinals or better on her past two visits.
 Victoria Azarenka (BLR #1) vs. Elena Vesnina (RUS #47)
Head-to-head: Azarenka leads 3-0
After squeezing past Jamie Hampton in the third round, Victoria Azarenka faces another unseeded opponent, Elena Vesnina. And while there may be a 46-place gap between the two in the rankings, if Vesnina keeps up her current vein of form, she has the tools to trouble the Belarusian.
An accomplished doubles player, Vesnina has the variety in her game to upset Azarenka's rhythm and the confidence - victory over Roberta Vinci on Saturday was her eighth in a row - to believe an upset is possible. The Russian, though, has only once beaten a player in the Top 5 and is yet to take a set from Azarenka in three career meetings, statistics that underline the task ahead of her if she wants to reach the quarterfinals of a major for the first time.
 Serena Williams (USA #3) vs.  Maria Kirilenko (RUS #15)
Head-to-head: Williams leads 5-0
For 10 months now, Serena Williams has been pretty much flawless. Since a quarterfinal exit to Caroline Wozniacki in Miami last March, the American has lost just two matches, picking up two majors, Olympic gold and the WTA Championships in the process. The next player charged with stopping her is Maria Kirilenko, and the statistics do not auger well for her chances.
Williams has dropped just six games in reaching the fourth round and, just in case her confidence needed any further boosting, she has won all five of her previous encounters with Kirilenko. However, the last of these - which came on Stanford's hardcourts 18 months ago - saw Kirilenko nick a set and she will draw further comfort from her form in the intervening period. Her cerebral, all-court game and superb athleticism has propelled her to the brink of a place in the Top 10 and she looked in fine fettle knocking out Yanina Wickmayer in the last round.
Around the grounds…
The other fourth round match sees the draw's last remaining teenager, Sloane Stephens, face unseeded Bojana Jovanovski. Meanwhile, Vesnina, alongside Ekaterina Makarova, is also in action in the doubles against Sílvia Soler-Espinosa and Carla Suárez Navarro, as are Nuria Llagostera Vives and Zheng Jie and the Australian wildcards Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua.