MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – While the organisers might have snubbed them, we put Simona Halep and Venus Williams front and centre as we line up Day Six’s Three to See.
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Simona Halep  v Venus Williams | H2H: Williams leads 3-2
For reasons that have baffled many, Simona Halep and Venus Williams are not scheduled on Rod Laver Arena – so we have fixed that by putting them front and centre here! Things just do not get any easier for Halep here. Last year she was hotly fancied for the title, rolled her ankle in her first match and was edged in the final having battled through.
This time around, she has been taken to three sets twice, and there have been a couple of three setters in her history with Williams, having lost her first three encounters to the seven-time Slam champion.
The good news for Halep is that she won the last two, and in fairly straight forward fashion. Williams has also had a tough fight in her first two rounds coming from a set down in her opening round.
Halep will need to hope that the slight tug to her hamstring we saw in her last match has had a chance to recover but she needs to be prepared for another three setter. Williams seems to have resigned herself to the fact she will need to be out there battling too, but she has experience in bucket loads to come through those fights.
The key for this match will be who can maintain that aggressive stance – Halep has been able to dig in and fight her way through relentless competitors. She possible has the edge over this, but never discount Williams. Either way this has the hallmark of being a long one.
Prediction: Halep in three sets.
Novak Djokovic  v Denis Shapovalov | First Meeting
If anything, this Australian Open has seen some of the chasing pack of stars showing the promise we all hope they are capable of, when it is time for the old guard of the ATP move on.
That being said, they are probably a little way off the pace and it will be a stern test for Denis Shapovalov when he takes on World No. 1 and six-time champion Novak Djokovic for the first time.
Shapovalov will relish the prospect – flashy crowd-pleasing shots and an engaging personality to boot, a big-time show on the show courts is right up his alley, but he still needs some consistency and at times his shot selection can be a tad suspect.
That will come, of course, with experience, and Djokovic is unlikely to be troubled. Both of them have come through in straight sets so far.
It will be a great experience though for the young Canadian, and it will be interesting to watch how he tackles the World No. 1 head on.
Prediction: Djokovic in straight sets.
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It has been a good long while since Naomi Osaka has encountered Hsieh Su-Wei. The tricky game from Hsieh has upended many a solid seed at Slams – just ask Halep from Wimbledon last year, or Garbiñe Muguruza this time last year.
Hsieh has such a different style of play but she is incredibly fun to watch with her frying-pan style off both wings very flatly with big angles and her unpredictable style of play will drive players crazy.
There has been a definite switch in Osaka since her big US Open win. She still is the gift that keeps on giving in her interviews, but she has a sense of belief when she plays – her focus was unwavering in that final despite everything else going on, and she will need to be dialled in and prepared to be all over the court to advance to the fourth round.
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