(January 16, 2012) -- Day 4 at the 2013 Australian Open features a veritable plethora of must-see matches, but even with all the highly anticipated tussles on the ticket, a certain ankle, attached to the leg of a certain 15-time Grand Slam champion, will likely garner more attention than anything else when the day is said and done.
Serena Williams vs. Garbine Muguruza, 2nd Match, Rod Laver Arena
After injuring her right ankle in the first round, Serena opted to cancel her scheduled public session on Wednesday, instead opting for a private session at an indoor court that fans and media couldn’t access. Unfortunately for Serena, she can’t play a private second-rounder on Thursday. She’ll be out under the hot sun hoping to make short work of the World No. 112, a 19-year-old Spanish woman who is playing in only her third career Grand Slam match. Can Serena move? Or, more important, will she be able to avoid moving too much so that her injured ankle can heal in time for the later rounds in Melbourne? Inquiring minds want to know, and can’t wait to see this match as a result.
Roger Federer vs. Nikolay Davydenko, Night Match No. 1, Rod Laver Arena
Roger Federer leads the head-to-head with the diminutive Russian 17-2, but we’ve never quite forgotten that three-match run that saw Davydenko defeat Federer twice consecutively and then push him in a wild four-setter at the 2010 Australian Open. Davydenko’s fine form at Doha, where he pummeled David Ferrer en route to the final, has many thinking that this could be a tricky match for Federer.
Laura Robson vs. Petra Kvitova , Night Match No. 2, Rod Laver Arena
Australian Open schedulers got it right in making this heavily anticipated southpaw clash a night session match. Their first meeting could favor Kvitova, as Robson has likely never faced a player quite as wicked and unpredictable as the 22-year-old firebombing Fulnekian. Robson, on the cusp of turning 19, is a player on the rise, but her 1-4 career record against top ten players will have to improve before we can consider her to be ticketed for elite status.
Bernard Tomic vs. Daniel Brands, 3rd Match, Rod Laver Arena
Bernard Tomic is playing unbelievably sound tennis right now, and he’ll look to continue his fine form against qualifier Daniel Brands later this afternoon. The 20-year-old, fresh off his first ATP title and winner of six straight matches (nine if you count Hopman Cup), is much improved on all fronts -- serve, movement, fitness and belief. He’s playing -- and acting -- like he belongs in the top ten, and a win today will set up a highly anticipated third-rounder with Roger Federer, should the Swiss get by Davydenko.
Kimiko Date-Krumm vs. Shahar Peer, 3rd Match, Court 6
In her first 2nd-round appearance in Melbourne since before her 12-year retirement, 42-year-old Date-Krumm will face Shahar Peer in a very winnable match. Peer, ranked 90, is a former quarterfinalist, but she’s not been in good form for a long time now. Date-Krumm has struggled of late as well, but after becoming the oldest player to win a main draw match at the Australian Open, she could be energized and ready to let it all hang out against Peer.
Sloane Stephens vs. Kristina Mladenovic, 4th Match, Court 8
This clash of 19-year-olds should favor Stephens, whose rapid rise of the WTA rankings has been well documented of late. But Mladenovic, who defeated Sloane Stephens en route to her 2009 Roland Garros junior title, is a rising star in her own right. This could be a golden chance for the Frenchwoman to prove that she is worthy of some of the ink that has been spilled on Stephen’s rise to prominence of late. For Stephens, it could provide a chance for her to further assert her dominance over her age group on tour.
Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek vs. Kevin Anderson and Jonathan Erlich, 3rd Match, Court 22
The defending men’s doubles champs will look to start their title defense in style.
(Photo Credit: Mark Peterson/ Corleve)