Australian Open Day 4 matches to watch
Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Roddick are shown here at the 2001 French Open, their first meeting at a Grand Slam tournament. Roddick retired during the third-round match. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Andy Roddick vs. Lleyton Hewitt (second night match, Rod Laver Arena): The two former No. 1s are set to renew a rivalry that dates to 2001. Well, frankly, it's not much of a rivalry anymore. Roddick has won the last six meetings, starting in Cincinnati in 2005, after Hewitt won six of the first seven. But many of those Roddick victories have been tight, most memorably at Wimbledon in 2009 when the American won a five-setter in the quarterfinals.
Could the 181st-ranked Hewitt, playing at home, have some late-night dramatics left? If this does end up being the 30-year-old Hewitt's last match at Rod Laver Arena (you never know), playing with the guy you beat on your way to your first Grand Slam title (U.S. Open 2001) seems like a nice way to go. So let's get Andy in some Reebok Pumps and a visor, have Lleyton let loose the lawn-mower celebration, and we can all party like it's 2005.
Sabine Lisicki vs. Shahar Peer (third match, Court 2): The 14th-seeded Lisicki is prime to be upset, having struggled with an abdominal injury two weeks ago and needing three sets and a medical timeout for heat illness in her first-round match against Stefanie Voegele. Luckily for the German, the weather should be cool on Thursday, topping out in the 70s. She'll need perfect conditions against Peer, whose competitive spirit is second to none. She'll make Lisicki earn every point. Lisicki will need to be on her game.
Sloane Stephens vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova (fourth match, Court 3): This would be a tremendous win for Stephens if she can surprise the two-time major champion and No. 18 seed. While she looks in good form, Kuznetsova's penchant for the erratic is legendary. Stephens, an 18-year-old American, has to serve well to take some pressure off herself and use her legs to get into Kuznetsova's head. When the Russian feels like she needs to be tricky or go for too much to win points, that's when she starts misfiring.
Gael Monfils vs. Thomaz Bellucci (fourth match, Margaret Court Arena): Both players have an amazing ability to find creative ways to lose points (and sometimes matches). No. 14 Monfils should advance without much trouble, but this one is about the journey, not the destination. Courtney's Pet Picks: Milos Raonic vs. Philipp Petzschner (first match, Court 3); Maria Sharapova vs. Jamie Hampton (first match, RLA); Ana Ivanovic vs. Michaella Krajicek (first match, Hisense); Andy Murray vs. Edouard Roger-Vasselin (fourth match, Hisense); Kei Nishikori vs. Matthew Ebden (third match, Margaret Court Arena); and Gilles Simon vs. Julien Benneteau (fourth match, Court 6).