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Australian Open Day 6 Preview

By Chris Pike
18 January 2014 04:25AM EST

FOUR former women's world No. 1s will all be in action in Australian Open third round matches on Saturday while Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray are among the big name men playing.

Former world No. 1 women Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Jelena Jankovic and Caroline Wozniacki are all playing Round 3 matches at the Australian Open on Saturday.

Federer, Murray, Nadal, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori and Benoit Paire are also among the men in action looking to advance to the fourth round.

First up on Rod Laver Arena in women's third round action on Saturday should be an intriguing clash between the third-seed and former world No. 1 Sharapova and the 25th-seeded Frenchwoman Alize Cornet.

Sharapova was lucky to advance to the third round surviving a gruelling three-set battle in the scorching heat on Thursday to win the third set 10 games to eight over Italian Karin Knapp.

Cornet has won her first two rounds in Melbourne beating Slovenia's Polona Hercog and Italian Camila Giorgi after teaming with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to win the Hopman Cup in Perth already this summer.

Sharapova and Cornet have met just the once previously on the WTA Tour with the Russian winning at Stuttgart in 2012 when the Frenchwomen retired injured in the second set.

The next women's match for the day on Rod Laver Arena features another former world No. 1 when Denmark's Wozniacki takes on the unseeded Spaniard Garbine Muguruza.

Muguruza has so far been a surprise packet of the Australian Open beating Estonia's Kaia Kanepi and Slovak Anna Schmiedlova in the first two rounds.

Wozniacki has won her way into the third round by beating Spain's Lourdes Dominguez Lino and American Christina McHale.

History is on Muguruza's side as well with the world No. 38 having won the only previous meeting she's had with the 10th-seed – coming last year in Miami in straight-sets.

The final women's match of Saturday on Rod Laver Arena features yet another ex-world No. 1 when Belarusian Azarenka does battle with the unseeded Yvonne Meusburger.

The unseeded Austrian world No. 49 has made the third round by beating Chanelle Scheepers and Bojana Jovanovski as she qualifies for Round 3 for the very first time of her career at 30 years of age.

Meanwhile, Azarenka has cruised through her first two rounds with straight-sets wins over Swede Johanna Larsson and Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.

Azarenka has only met Meusburger once previous with her winning in straight-sets in Marbella back in 2010.

Play will begin on Hisense Arena at 11am EST when the fourth former world No. 1 of the day hits the court with Serbia's eighth-seed Jelena Jankovic remarkably takes on her third Japanese opponent in a row, Kurumi Nara.

Jankovic has advanced to the third round by beating Japanese pair Misaki Doi and Ayumi Morita both in straight-sets.

And Nara has won her way into the third round by firstly beating China's Shuai Peng in three sets, and then Slovak 32nd-seed Magdalena Rybarikova in two.

Jankovic and Nara have only played each other once before with the Serb winning at last year's US Open in two tight sets in the third round.

Up next on Hisense Arena sees the battle of two sees when No. 5 Pole Agnieszka Radwanska takes on No. 29 Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

The pair have previously met on the WTA Tour four times with Radwanska winning three of those, including twice last year at the US Open and in the final in Seoul.

Margaret Court Arena will also begin on Saturday at 11am EST with what is sure to be an enthralling women's third round match between Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro and the Slovak Republic's Dominika Cibulkova.

Suarez Navarro, the No. 16 seed, beat American Vania King in straight-sets in Round 1 but then had to endure three hours and 10 minutes in the gruelling heat on Thursday but prevailed eight games to six in the third set over Kazakhstan's Galina Voskoboeva.

Cibulkova, the No. 20 seed, meanwhile has dropped just eight games on her way to the third round after beating Italian Francesca Schiavone and Swiss Stefanie Voegele.

It will be the first ever meeting between the pair.

That match will be followed on Margaret Court Arena by American 13th-seed Sloane Stephens taking on Ukraine's world No. 47 Elina Svitolina.

Court 3 will also begin play on Saturday with a women's third round clash with Romania's 11th-seed Simona Halep taking on Kazakhstan's world No. 152 Zarina Diyas.

The first men's third round match-up of the day on Rod Laver Arena will feature Roger Federer taking on Russia's Teymuraz Gabashvili.

Despite being seeded No. 6, Federer has cruised into the third round without dropping a set against Australia's James Duckworth and Slovenia's Blaz Kavcic.

While Gabashvili has needed four sets to down the Ukraine's Sergiy Stakhovsky in the first round and five to beat Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in Round 2.

Federer and Gabashvili have met just the once previously with the Swiss master winning in straight-sets at the 2007 Wimbledon.

The night will then finish on Rod Laver Arena with world No. 1 Nadal taking on flamboyant Frenchman Gael Monfils.

Nadal has been untroubled in his first two rounds against two Australians – winning the first set against Bernard Tomic before the Australian threw in the towel and then beating teenager Thanasi Kokkinakis in straight-sets.

Monfils, the 25th-seed, is yet to drop a set as well on his way to beating Americans Ryan Harrison and Jack Sock.

Nadal and Monfils have previously met 11 times on the ATP Tour with Nadal winning nine and Monfils just twice.

The pair have already met in 2014 as well with Nadal winning in three sets in Doha while their only previous meeting at a major was at the 2009 US Open when the Spaniard won in four sets in the fourth round.

The first men's match up on Hisense Arena features reigning Wimbledon champion and fourth-seed Murray taking on Spanish 26th-seed Feliciano Lopez.

Murray, a three-time runner-up at the Australian Open, is yet to drop a set in his first two matches beating Japan's Go Soeda and France's Vincent Millot.

Lopez, meanwhile, has also cruised through in straight-sets downing Indian Somdev Devvarman and German Michael Berrer.

Murray and Lopez have played one another seven times previously with the Scot having won all seven including at the 2011 and 2012 US Opens, and Wimbledon in 2011.

This will be their first clash since Murray's tight four-set win in the third round of the 2012 US Open that went to three tie-breaks.

They will be followed on Hisense Arena by the third round battle of two French stars, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon.

Tsonga, the 10th-seed, has won his first two matches in Melbourne in straight-sets against Italian Filippo Volandri and Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci.

Simon, the 18th-seed, has already had two gruelling five-set battles in the first two rounds winning 16-14 in the fifth set against German Daniel Brands and then 6-2 in the fifth against Croatian Marin Cilic.

The French pair have played on the ATP Tour on eight occasions with Tsonga winning five of those while Simon one the last of them in straight-sets at Metz last year in the final. This will be the first time they have met at a Grand Slam.

The men's match on Margaret Court Arena on Saturday should also be fascinating featuring two players hoping to become genuine Grand Slam contenders in the future, Canada's Milos Raonic and Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov.

The 11th-seeded Raonic had a scare dropping a set in the first round against Spain's Daniel Gimeno-Traver, but then got through in three tight sets against Romania's Victor Hanescu in the second.

And the 22nd-seeded Dimitrov had a tough first round battle with American Bradley Klahn before winning in straight-sets over Chinese Taipei's Yen-Hsun Lu.

The two young guns, aged 23 and 22 respectively, have met twice previously splitting those one apiece with the most recent meeting coming at the Brisbane International last year when the Bulgarian won 6-3, 6-4.

Donald Young is the last man left in the men's draw and the world No. 91 is looking to advance to the fourth round when he takes on Japanese 16th-seed Kei Nishikori to finish the night on Margaret Court Arena.

Another men's third round match will pit French 27th-seed Benoit Paire up against Spanish world No. 62 Roberto Bautista Agut.

Another Frenchman, Stephane Robert will also be trying to win his way into the fourth round when he takes on the Slovak Republic's Martin Klizan.

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