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By Chris Oddo | Thursday January 18, 2018


Today's preview of Day 5 of the Australian Open will be prefaced with a few burning questions.

How bad will the heat be?

Day 4 was extremely difficult for many players because of the heat. Depending on who you listen to, temps were somewhere around 140 to 160 at court level, meaning inside the bowels of the stadium and just above the court surface it was sweltering, whether you take the 140 or the 160 to be true. What was particularly interesting about the heat and its effects on the players on Day 4 was the juxtaposition of the Monfils-Djokovic match on Rod Laver Arena and the Del Potro-Khachanov match on Hisense.


Monfils and Djokovic were struggling more because of the type of tennis they were playing (grueling rallies under any conditions were the norm), while Khachanov and Del Potro had an easier time with the heat because of power tennis and short points. Looking ahead to today’s schedule it’s easy to see that Andrey Rublev and Grigor Dimitrov could be headed for trouble. The heat police may need to step in if this match gets ugly.

Here’s the Day 5 Order of Play on the two biggest courts—all but the night session matches will be affected significantly.


How far can Ivo go?

Here’s a player that could fare well in the heat—Ivo Karlovic. Not much has been made of one of the most significant achievements of the tournament thus far, so we’ll do that now. How about Dr. Ivo Karlovic, who at 38 years and 11 months old, will bid to become the oldest man into the round of 16 at a major since 1991 when he meets Andreas Seppi today on Hisense. He’s also seeking his 50th Grand Slam win today.

According to the venerable Greg Sharko of ATP Media, Karlovic is also the oldest player to reach this far at the Australian Open since 1978.



What does 15-year-old Marta Kostyuk have prepared for an encore?

Here’s a reason to pay attention to the junior tournaments at majors each year: Because the champions one year just might come back to do damage at the senior event the next. That’s what Marta Kostyuk of the Ukraine has done. Winning the juniors earned her a wild card into qualifying and now she is the youngest player to reach the third round at a major in 21 years. She’ll square off with her compatriot Elina Svitolina, who was kind enough to say that Kostyuk played like a headless chicken in press the other day. If that doesn’t motivate Kostyuk to take down her more established country mate, we don’t know what will.


Will Grigor get revenge on Rublev?

Grigor Dimitrov was very nearly bounced out of the draw on Day 3 when he barely survived a five-set encounter with American qualifier Mackie McDonald. Tonight the Bulgarian will be under the gun again. He’ll face Russia’s Andrey Rublev, the player that knocked him out of the U.S. Open last year in straight sets.

Rublev is playing just his sixth major, but at 20 years of age he already has a major quarterfinal under his belt. Making this match even more interesting is the fact that it will be played in the same time slot as Novak Djokovic and Gael Monfils 2nd-rounder on Day 4. In other words it could be scorching hot. Will this match be won on fitness? And if so, who will prove to be fitter?

Will more upsets occur in the wild bottom half of the WTA draw?

Two seeds—No.2 Caroline Wozniacki and No.4 Elina Svitolina—anchor this bottom half, but the lower half is on the verge of being cracked wide open if either lose on Friday.

We already know that either Luksika Kumkhum, Petra Martic, Alizé Cornet or Elise Mertens will reach the quarters in one section. Denisa Allertova or Magda Linette will battle for a round of 16 slot today. Can Svitolina and Wozniacki (or Jelena Ostapenko) hold serve and create a predictable semifinal in this half of the draw or will chaos reign supreme?

 

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