If I was Stan Wawrinka, I would be feeling pretty confident right now. And if I was Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, I would be praying I didn’t mess up.
Both of the aforementioned men have had pretty tough Grand Slam draws in recent times – especially the latter. And while eyes turn to Wawrinka now his rather soft draw has disintegrated still further, the Frenchman should not be overlooked. He did, after all, reach his only major final as a non-seeded player at this event in 2008.
Over on the women’s side, Venus Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova, and – whisper is quietly – home wild card Ashleigh Barty are heading up the semifinal contenders in possibly the most opportune quarter of the women’s draw, with Elina Svitolina hot on their heels…
Here are all the key results – and my comments – from Day Three at the Australian Open!
ROD LAVER ARENA
Venus Williams  d. Stephanie Voegele 6-3 6-2
Former top 50 player Voegele – whose game focusses on timing rather than power – far outplayed her ranking during this encounter. Nevertheless, Venus Williams – while not perfect – was far superior. When she channelled her aggression consistently, she overwhelmed her Swiss opponent with her angles and pace. Served great under pressure. Looking good in a highly opportune draw.
Angelique Kerber  d. Carina Witthoeft 6-2 6-7(3) 6-2
The defending champion sustains her streak of having lost a match in all five matches contested this year. But the important thing is that she is winning, and the experience of early battles could come to her aid later in the draw – should she last that long. Her young countrywoman blew a possible upset with 69 unforced errors to 38 winners, and birthday girl Kerber is fortunate to survive once more.
Roger Federer  d. Noah Rubin 7-5 6-3 7-6(3)
Didn’t catch any of this one, and teenager Rubin is not exactly the most difficult second round opponent. But this is Federer’s first official straight sets win since his official comeback began, and 17 aces and a positive differential of winners to unforced errors suggest he’s on a good path. Needs to work on those 41 unforced errors, though, because his clinical performances against most of the elite are what have kept him in the world’s top three for much of the past three years.
Garbine Muguruza  d. Samantha Crawford 7-5 6-4
Crawford produced her best tennis during the Australian swing in 2015. The statistics were far from spectacular, but it’s another fairly decent win for the resurging Muguruza. Takes another step towards the quarter-finals – and a potential clash with Angelique Kerber.
Andy Murray  d. Andrey Rublev 6-3 6-0 6-2
Teenager Rublev is currently more famous for his attempts at singing than his tennis (in my book, anyway), and never had a serious shot at the upset. Murray rolled his ankle during the third set of this one, but looking at the scoreline, one has to think it can’t have been that badly. We’ll see.
MARGARET COURT ARENA
Elina Svitolina  d. Julia Boserup 6-4 6-1
The Ukrainian continues her hot form as she glides into round three, where she will face her first real challenge in no. 24 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Svetlana Kuznetsova  d. Jaimee Fourlis 6-2 6-1
Residing in the same quarter as Venus and Svitolina, Kuznetsova also has a highly doable draw on her hands. It was unlikely that the 17-year-old Fourlis was going to be able to push the Russian much, and Jelena Jankovic – a somewhat surprising third round presence – should make things more interesting.
Stan Wawrinka  d. Steve Johnson 6-3 6-4 6-4
A simple victory in under two hours is just what Wawrinka needed after resting on the brink of elimination in round one. The Swiss marches on with an impressive 45 winners to 25 unforced errors, into a draw that was once opportune and could now b a walk in the park up until the quarter-finals.
Ashleigh Barty d. Shelby Rogers 7-5 6-1
Still no sign of nerves for the down-to-earth 20-year-old, proving that her break from the sport was mentally beneficial, and not physically detrimental. Venus looms in round four, but at this rate, a semifinal debut for the world no. 223 is not unthinkable. Barty is sheer talent.
Bernard Tomic  d. Victor Estrella Burgos 7-5 7-6(4) 4-6 7-6(5)
He toyed with the idea of going to five sets in an effort to out-drama his Aussie rival (that’s my theory, anyway.) Nevertheless, Tomic walks on in unimpressive fashion, but into the least crowded section of the draw. It’s a winnable clash with Britain’s Dan Evans next.
Kei Nishikori  d. Jeremy Chardy 6-3 6-4 6-3
Nishikori’s first two opponents have been tougher than most, but Japan’s hope did well to see off Chardy so easily after – like Wawrinka – a scare in his opener. His third round against Lucas Lacko should be a doss, with the winner of Roger Federer versus Tomas Berdych bound to make the last 17 difficult.
Jelena Jankovic d. Julia Georges 6-3 6-4
The world no. 54 back into the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time since Wimbledon 2015.
Eugenie Bouchard d. Shuai Peng 7-6(5) 6-2
This was never going to be much of a challenge to Boucgard – another opponent who plays to her strengths. The serve of CoCo Vandeweghe might cause her more difficulties.
Andreas Seppi d. Nick Kyrgios 1-6 6-7(1) 6-4 6-2 10-8
Two years ago, Seppi lost to Kyrgios from two sets to love up at this event. Now the tables have turned – just when people (including myself, tentatively) had started tipping the Aussie to be ready for major glory. But Italy’s Seppi, let us not forget, did shock Roger Federer in the Melbourne third round back in 2014. This win was no fluke.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga  d. Dusan Lajovic 6-2 6-2 6-3
I’ve said it a million times, and I’ll say it again: Never underestimate the threat that is Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. His chances to make the semifinals are just as great as Wawrinka’s. All the same, Jack Sock (whom he beat at the US Open last season) could well be difficult to put away.
Tomas Berdych  d. Ryan Harrison 6-3 7-6(8) 6-2
He’s yet to drop a set at Melbourne Park (okay, that’s thanks in part to playing just one set in his opener.) Still, that’s the clean slate Berdych needs as he heads into a third round clash with Roger Federer. He’ll be looking to add the Swiss maestro to a list of Aussie Open scalps that features Rafael Nadal in 2015.
Sorana Cirstea d. Carla Suarez Navarro  7-6(1) 6-3
Ana Ivanovic’s best friend has struggled through injury and poor form for a couple of seasons. This could be the start of a run that changes the course of her career.
Daniel Evans d. Marin Cilic  3-6 7-5 6-3 6-3
An upset it may be, but honestly, I was not surprised by this one at all. Cilic is a Grand Slam champion, but as that victory came unexpectedly, so do all his big achievements. The Croat does nothing for large chunks of the season, and Evans has made his best ever start to a season.
Mona Barthel d. Monica Puig  6-4 6-4
People have constantly been putting to much pressure on the still-developing Puig. Still, this was not supposed to happen.
Ying-Ying Duan d. Varvara Lepchenko 6-1 3-6 10-8
The 27-year-old pro gets her first crack at Venus Williams. A legend whom she has never seen play.
How is that even possible?
Mischa Zverev d. John Isner  6-7(4) 6-7(4) 6-4 7-6(7) 9-7
Did I ever mention how awesome Mischa Zverev is? (Again.)
The mental strength that has developed so swiftly over the past few months peaked on Wednesday. At times, the elder Zverev brother did not even know the score, and saved match point during a clash that went on for over four hours.
To come back against Isner during a best-of-three sets match is tough. This was a special win.