Victoria Azarenka of Belarus hits a forehand return to Danka Kovinic of Montenegro during their second round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016.(AP Photo/Andrew Brownbill)
Andrew Brownbill
January 22, 2016

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Victoria Azarenka aim to continue their quests for a third Grand Slam singles title when they play their third-round matches Saturday at the Australian Open. Up-and-comers Milos Raonic, Bernard Tomic and Garbine Muguruza hope to remain in contention for their first.

No. 2-seeded Murray, who won the 2012 U.S. Open and Wimbledon in 2013 but has lost four finals at Melbourne Park, plays Joao Sousa of Portugal. It's the third time in four years the two have met in Melbourne, and the Scotsman has won both previous encounters in straight sets.

Wawrinka, who added the French Open title last year to his 2014 Australian Open title, takes on unseeded Lukas Rosol. Azarenka, who won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, plays Japanese qualifier Naomi Osaka.

Azarenka is free from injuries for the first time in several years, and is one of the favorites here after winning the Brisbane International title two weeks ago.

''I think I'm feeling in the best shape body-wise, spirit-wise, everything-wise,'' Azarenka said after her second-round win.

Here are some other things to watch on Saturday:


YOUNG GUNS: Raonic, a 25-year-old Canadian, was a quarterfinalist here last year and made the semis at Wimbledon in 2014. He plays Viktor Troicki, who beat Grigor Dimitrov for the Sydney International title last week. Raonic won the week before in Brisbane, beating Roger Federer. ''I think if I can put my game together a little bit cleaner and more efficient than I did today, be a little bit more proficient at the net, I'll be able to give myself some opportunities,'' Raonic said after his second-round win. Tomic, a 23-year-old Aussie, is playing some of the best tennis of his career after some issues on and off the court slowed his progress. He'll play countryman John Millman. Former Wimbledon finalist and 22-year-old Muguruza, seeded third here, plays Barbora Strycova. Muguruza is attempting to make the fourth round here for the third year in a row.


CONTRASTING CAREERS: An all-French encounter Saturday highlights the often wide gap on the professional tennis tour. Gael Monfils, ranked 25th and with $9.3 million in career earnings, plays No. 225-ranked countryman and qualifier Stephane Robert, who has been playing professionally since 2001 but has just $1.4 million in career earnings - which includes doubles prize money - with no singles titles. Monfils, 29, has five career titles and reached the French Open semifinals in 2008. Robert, 35, has lost more singles matches than he's won (22-43) but can take heart that his best Grand Slam singles performance came at the 2014 Australian Open, when he advanced to the fourth round.


THE MADISONS RETURN: Last year in the fourth round at Melbourne Park, it was a battle of the American Madisons - Madison Keys beat Madison Brengle in straight sets. Keys later lost to Serena Williams in the semis after beating three seeded players along the way. This year, the Madisons are still around in the third round and could both advance to the final 16, but couldn't play each other until the semifinals. At the top of the second half of the women's draw, Brengle takes on seventh-seeded Angelique Kerber, while No. 15 Keys, in the bottom quarter, plays former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic. ''It will be interesting because we do both play similar and the aggressive style,'' Keys said. ''I think whoever kind of gets to strike first is going to be the one who comes out on top.''


AND ELSEWHERE: Qualifier Zhang Shuai, who beat No. 2-seeded Simon Halep in the first round, plays Varvara Lepchenko. No. 10-seeded John Isner, attempting to advance to the fourth round here for the first time since 2010, takes on 18th-seeded Feliciano Lopez.

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