The fourth round of a grand slam is generally considered when the real business end of the tournament begins, and two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic will have to be on his guard when he takes on 15th seed Stanislas Wawrinka who has yet to lose a set in his three matches.
If past form is anything to go by, anything other than a straight-forward Djokovic win will be a huge surprise.
The Serbian world No. 1 has won his last 10 encounters with the Swiss star, losing just three sets in the process. Given his form so far in Melbourne, it looks certain that it will take a monumental performance from any man to prevent Djokovic claiming a record third-straight Australian Open title.
There may be more chance of an upset with fourth seed David Ferrer going up against Japanese talent Kei Nishikori. Surprisingly, 14th seed Nishikori holds a 2-1 advantage in head-to-heads with Ferrer and he looks set to be in a confident mood after progressing comfortably to the fourth round.
The 23-year-old has been tipped for big things for some time, but he still lacks a headline win in a grand slam to make a true statement. A victory over Ferrer would provide that, but the 30-year-old Spaniard has the ability to wear down the vast majority of the players on the tour and is likely to prove too strong.
There could well be a real battle of endurance as Janko Tipsarevic and Nicolas Almagro face off for a place in the quarter finals. Surprisingly, these two experienced players have met just once, at the French Open last year when Almagro came out on top. On the quicker hard court, Tipsarevic would normally be favored, although the fact that he comes into this contest on the back of two five-setters may tip the balance in Almagro’s favor.
The most attractive match on paper on the women’s side is certainly fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska’s meeting with former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic. After losing her first three meetings with Ivanovic, Radwanska has now won the last four. Still undefeated this season, Radwanska should have the consistency and court smarts to progress against the Serbian 13th seed.
Maria Sharapova is unlikely to be unduly tested by Belgian Kristen Flipkens in her fourth-round encounter. Equally as impressive as Sharapova winning her first two matches in Melbourne without dropping a game was her dismantling of Venus William for the loss of just four games in the third round. More of the same looks to be on the cards as the second seed sets her sights on the last eight.
In the first match of the day on Rod Laver Arena, Angelique Kerber should dispose of Russian Ekaterina Makarova, an opponent she defeated comfortably on three occasions last year.
Where to watch: Day seven of the Austrian Open will get underway at 7 p.m. ET. Coverage will begin on the Tennis Channel before switching to ESPN2 at 9 p.m. A live stream of multiple courts will be available throughout the day’s play on ESPN3.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.