Grigor Dimitrov is forecasted to be facing the World No.1 Rafael Nadal in the semi-final, but after going the distance in his second round match, the Bulgarian will not be looking too far ahead in his draw. He now will come up against the Russian youngster Andrey Rublev, who actually beat Dimitrov at the US Open last year in a one-sided contest.
It’s easily the pick of the third round matches. Rublev has been a typical ‘all or nothing’ player in his development into the Top 50, but his main strengths is his ability to give his opponent absolutely no rhythm whatsoever. He refuses to hold back on his shots and leaves the court knowing that the match was dictated on his racquet whether he wins or loses, which is ballsy from someone so young.
I think Dimitrov will get the win in this rematch. I believe that the five set win over Mackenzie McDonald in the previous round will help him loads. It will remind him that there is no room for complacency in the Grand Slam world and he will know that mental strength it required to get a win like that under his belt. That is the area in which the World No.3 has improved the most – his ability to back himself when the chips are down.
Prediction: Dimitrov in four sets.
Rafael Nadal  vs Damir Dzumhur  H2H: Dzumhur leads 1-0
Rafael Nadal‘s third round opponent is the always-improving Damir Dzumhur. The Bosnian No.1 played an absolute pearler of a match to beat Australia’s John Millman in the last round and what stood out to me was how unpredictable he is in his shot selection. He likes to consistently use the drop shot, he moves around the court swiftly from side to side and also moving forward and has terrific hand skills at the end of his range. The one area in which Nadal will prey on is the serve, but Dzumhur’s a tough competitor who thrives off competition.
Nadal has looked absolutely fantastic this tournament. He dispatched Victor Estrella Burgos with the loss of just three games and beat Leonardo Mayer in straight sets, too. This is by far his toughest opponent so far, because Dzumhur does so many things so well and let’s not forget that Dzumhur has a win against the Spaniard, but I do think that Nadal will find a way to come through this third round match.
Prediction: Nadal in three sets.
Elina Svitolina  vs Marta Kostyuk [Q] H2H: First meeting
In one of the stories of the Australian Open, 15-year-old Marta Kostyuk will feature in the third round, a year on from winning the Australian Open juniors event. She’s the youngest player in 21 years to get to this stage of a major and has unbelievable power to her groundstrokes for someone so young. She’ll have her work cut out against Ukraine’s No.1 player Elina Svitolina, who is one of the contenders to go the whole way over the fortnight.
This could be a decent affair. Kostyuk has absolutely nothing to lose, but has been running on fumes in her past two matches, so it will be an interesting watch to see how she competes for each and every point against one of the world’s best. Svitolina will give nothing away from the baseline.
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