I have thoroughly enjoyed the 2012 Australian Open this year, but now the excitement level rises significantly. With most of the seeds moving through easily, the tough match-ups begin. Of primary interest to me is the fourth round battle between Kim Clijsters and Li Na, a rematch of last year’s final, won by Kimmie. Li Na didn’t have to play much in the third round, as her opponent had to retire with an ankle injury only three games into the match. Clijsters was able to conserve some energy by continuing her domination of Daniela Hantuchova, 6-3 6-2. The Clijsters-Li rematch will tell a lot about both players. Li Na gave Kim trouble last year in two finals, beating Kim in Sydney and taking her the distance at the 2011 Australian Open. But honestly, while Li is definitely playing better than the last half of 2011, I’m not sure that she’s at the level she was last year in Australia or at Roland Garros. Petra Kvitova was rolling over Li at Sydney 6-1 3-1 until she imploded with unforced errors. This match should answer some questions about both Li and Clijsters.
I don’t think the Caroline Wozniacki-Jelena Jankovic showdown, if won by Caroline, tells us much about the world #1. I think we know what to expect from Caroline. But should Jelena Jankovic keep her head in the match and avoid any extraneous drama, a win over the world #1 might just propel her deep into the tournament. I must admit that while Jelena is my second favorite player to Kim Clijsters, a part of me was hoping Christina McHale would win their third round match. Alas, it was not to be as JJ rolled, 6-2 6-0. Against Monica Niculescu, an awkward style of player, Caroline was…well, Caroline, patiently waiting for opening and errors, defeating the 31st seed, 6-2 6-2.
Singles – Third Round
(1) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. (31) Monica Niculescu (ROU) 62 62
(3) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. Mona Barthel (GER) 62 64
(5) Li Na (CHN) d. (26) Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP) 30 ret. (right ankle sprain)
(8) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ) 62 62
(11) Kim Clijsters (BEL) d. (20) Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) 63 62
(13) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. Christina McHale (ROU) 62 60
(22) Julia Goerges (GER) d. Romina Oprandi (ITA) 36 63 61
Iveta Benesova (CZE) d. (Q) Nina Bratchikova (RUS) 61 63