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Australian Open Day 5 Preview

By Chris Pike
17 January 2014 04:16AM EST

SERENA Williams, Casey Dellacqua, Sam Stosur and Novak Djokovic are all set for third round Australian Open action on Friday with another hot Melbourne day forecast.

Play was delayed for several hours on Thursday on all but the enclosed Rod Laver and Hisense Arenas at the Australian Open as the temperatures soared past 40-degrees with the high humidity adding to the uncomfortable nature of the conditions leading to the suspension in play.

It could be a similar case again on Friday with 41-degrees the predicted maximum but the good news for the tournament, players and spectators alike is that it is set to be the last hot day in the heatwave with the following seven days predicted to range between 19 and 29 degrees.

There will be a host of big names scheduled to have to battle the heat on Friday, though, before the comfort levels improve the rest of the Australian Open.

Of most interest for Australians will be the last two local hopes Sam Stosur and Casey Dellacqua both being in action in third round matches on Friday.

Other star women in action on Friday includes world No. 1 Serena Williams, Ana Ivanovic, Angelique Kerber, Li Na and Flavia Pennetta.

Meanwhile, men of note playing include Novak Djokovic, David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Tommy Robredo, Richard Gasquet, Fabio Fognini and Jerzy Janowicz.

Play begins on Rod Laver Arena on Friday at 11am EST with world No. 1 Williams taking on 31st-seed Slovak Daniela Hantuchova.

Williams has so far cruised through the first two rounds at the Australian Open beating Vesna Dolonc and Ashleigh Barty dropping a total of just six games in the process while Hantuchova has had a harder time, needing three sets to beat both Karolina Pliskova and Heather Watson.

Williams and Hantuchova have played one another nine times with the American winning eight of those. Hantuchova's only victory, though, did come at the Australian Open in 2006 when she beat Williams 6-1, 7-6 (5) ironically also in the third round.

The second women's match on Rod Laver Arena of the day's session will see Australia's Dellacqua look to continue her outstanding form up against China's Jie Zheng.

The 28-year-old Dellacqua might be ranked 120 in the world, but in the first two rounds has beaten former world No. 2 Vera Zvonareva 6-2, 6-2 and then thrashed Kirsten Flipkens 6-3, 6-0 to win through to the third round.

However, her Chinese third round opponent upset No. 12 seed Roberta Vinci in the first round and then beat talented American Madison Keys in the second.

Immediately after Dellacqua's match is the second Australian woman left in the main draw, the nation's No. 1 Stosur as she locks horns with former world No. 1 Serbian Ivanovic.

Despite Stosur struggling in the lead up to the Australian Open both at the Hopman Cup and the Hobart International, the 17th-seed and former US Open champion has cruised through the first two rounds against Klara Zakapalova and Tsvetana Pironkova.

Ivanovic also made the third round by belting Kiki Bertens and Annika Beck both in straight-sets.

Stosur and Ivanovic have played one another on seven occasions with the Australian leading 4-3 but Ivanovic won the last meeting 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 last year in Bulgaria.

Stosur won the pair's only ever clash at the Australian Open in straight-sets in the second round but that was back in 2006.

German ninth seed Kerber is first up on Hisense Arena at 11am EST up against American 23-year-old Alison Riske.

Kerber and Riske have met just the once previously with Kerber winning 6-2, 6-4 at Charleston in 2010.

Next up is China's world No. 4 and two-time Australian Open runner-up Li Na who takes on talented left-handed Czech Lucie Safarova who comes into the tournament as the No. 26 seed.

It will be the seventh meeting between the pair with Li Na having won the last sixth after Safarova won their first clash back in 2005. This will be the first match between the pair since 2012 and the first ever at a Grand Slam.

Action on Margaret Court Arena also begins at 11am with Italian veteran Flavia Pennetta taking on unseeded German Mona Barthel.

Russia's 22nd-seed Ekaterina Makarova is taking on Romania's world No. 64 Monica Niculescu on Court 2.

On Court 3, rising Canadian star and 30th-seed Eugenie Bouchard is facing American 20-year-old Lauren Davis.

Meanwhile, the first men's match of the day on Rod Laver Arena sees world No. 3 Spaniard David Ferrer do battle with battle-hardened 29th-seeded Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.

Ferrer has advanced into the third round dropping just the one set, in the second round to Frenchman Adrian Mannarino while Chardy also dropped a set in the second round against Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov.

Ferrer and Chardy have met five times previously with Ferrer winning four of them including most recently at the 2010 Wimbledon, but it took five sets for him to prevail 7-5, 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 7-5.

The night will then conclude on Rod Laver Arena when world No. 2 and four-time Australian Open winner Novak Djokovic takes on Uzbekistan veteran Denis Istomin.

Djokovic has been in ominous form in the first two rounds beating Lukas Lacko and Leandro Mayer both in straight-sets while 27-year-old Istomin has advanced by beating Marcos Baghdatis in straight-sets and Dmitry Tursunov in four.

Djokovic has beaten Istomin in each of their previous three matches including a straight-sets win at the 2010 Australian Open also in the third round.

The afternoon session on Hisense Arena will conclude with seventh-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych taking on Bosnia and Herzegovina surprise packet Damir Dzumhur.

Berdych hasn’t dropped a set advancing to the third round while Dzumhur has knocked off Jan Hajek and Ivan Dodig as the world No. 188 has made it to his first third round appearance at a Grand Slam.

Up next on Hisense is another men's clash pitting world No. 9 Frenchman Richard Gasquet up against Spanish veteran Tommy Robredo in what should be an enthralling contest between two of the best pure stroke makers in tennis.

World No. 9 Gasquet hasn’t dropped a set against David Guez and Nikolay Davydenko to make it to the third round while Robredo escaped against Lukas Rosol on five sets in the first round and then beat Frenchman Julien Benneteau in four in the second.

The pair has played another on the ATP Tour just the four times splitting two wins apiece.

They did meet at the 2007 Australian Open in the fourth round with Robredo winning in four sets, 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 but they have not played one another since 2010.

The first men's match of the day on Margaret Court Arena pits big-hitting South African Kevin Anderson up against unseeded Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

Up next is 15th-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini taking on American Sam Querrey.

First up on Court 3 is a men's third round clash between rising Polish star and 20th-seed Jerzy Janowicz taking on German Florian Mayer.

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