Australian Open Day 7: Bencic vs. Sharapova; Serena, Djokovic in action
Here are the matches to watch on Saturday on Day 6 of the 2016 Australian Open in Melbourne. Play begins on all courts at 7 p.m. ET. Click here for the full order of play, and see the full TV schedule here.
Bencic-Sharapova will kick off play on Sunday
No. 12-seed Belinda Bencic and No. 5-seed Maria Sharapova will meet for the first time in their careers on Sunday (first match, Rod Laver) in an intriguing match-up that could lead to a potential quarterfinal match against Serena Williams.
“An impressive player,” Sharapova said of 18-year-old Bencic after her match on Friday. “A newer generation that's already established herself in the past season, beaten a lot of top players. It's a tough fourth round. We haven't played against each other before, but I'm sure we'll be playing many times. It's great that we can start here.”
The Swiss defeated Alison Riske, Timea Babos and Kateryna Bondarenko in the first three rounds to earn a spot in the Round of 16 against Sharapova. Coached by her father and Martina Hingis’s mother, Melanie Molitor, 12th-seeded Bencic has jumped in the rankings, from a top 100 debut in April 2014, to her first top 20 season last year, where she finished at No. 14 in the world. At the Rogers Cup in Toronto last August, Bencic upset Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, Serena and Simona Halep to win the title.
Serena Williams will take on Russia’s Margarita Gasparyan in the next match on RLA. Serena and Gasparyan last played in the opening round at Wimbledon in 2015, where Serena won 6–4, 6–1.
In the final match of the day session on Rod Laver, No. 1 Novak Djokovic will face off against No. 14-seed Gilles Simon. Their head-to-head dates back to February 2008 in Marseille, the only time in their 10-match history that Simon defeated Djokovic. Their most recent match was at the Paris Masters last November, where the Serb prevailed 6–3, 7–5.
Aussie Gavrilova and Federer headline RLA at night
Local favorite Daria Gavrilova will try and continue her run in Melbourne on Sunday against No. 10-seed Carla Suarez Navarro in the first night session match. The bubbly 21-year-old defeated Kristina Mladenovic 6–4, 4–6, 11–9 on Sunday with the help of the home crowd. Suarez Navarro and Gavrilova have only met once before in their careers, a 7–6(5), 6–3 victory for the Spaniard in Tokyo in 2014.
After capturing his 600th Grand Slam win on Friday evening, No. 3-seed Roger Federer will continue his quest for his 18th major title against No. 15-seed David Goffin. He defeated Dominic Thiem in four sets on Friday to become the first Belgian man to reach the Round of 16 at the Australian Open since 2005. Federer leads their head-to-head 3–0, with most recent match coming in October in Basel where the Swiss won in three sets.
Tsonga and Nishikori face off in Melbourne
In a rematch of the 2015 French Open quarterfinal match, No. 9-seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will take on No. 7-seed Kei Nishikori for a spot in the Australian Open quarterfinals. Tsonga prevailed at Roland Garros 6–1, 6–4, 4–6, 3–6, 6–3 and Nishikori said he hopes get can get “revenge” in Melbourne.
“He’s gonna be tough, tough opponent,” Nishikori said of Tsonga on Friday. “You know, we play last year in French and I almost came back, but he raise his level in the fifth. It was really tough loss for me….I have been playing good and a lot of confidence coming up, so it's gonna be a good match.”
Tsonga said he thinks the match will be exciting, especially for spectators.
“Every time we played, it was a good fight. We have a different style,” Tsonga said. “He's really fast. He's consistent. He never move from his baseline. That's the most difficult things to do, is to push him in the backyard. Is difficult because he takes the ball early and he's consistent.”
No. 4-seed Agnieszka Radwanska looks to continue her run in 2016 against Anna-Lena Friedsam (not before 1 a.m. ET, Hisense). On Margaret Court Arena, No. 24-seed Roberto Bautista Agut will take on No. 6-seed Tomas Berdych (not before 12:30 a.m. ET).