While Day 6 at the 2013 Australian Open saw some familiar faces break through into the fourth round, a handful of lesser-known talents emerged as contenders.
Roger Federer and Andy Murray proved to be the two biggest challengers to Novak Djokovic in the men's draw, while female stars Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams each moved one step closer to a potential clash of the titans in the semifinal round next week.
Overachievers Jeremy Chardy and Elena Vesnina both advanced to the fourth round on Day 6, giving them immense confidence and belief moving forward.
With the third round of the year's first Grand Slam in the books, it's time to recap the latest happenings from Melbourne Park.
Federer, Murray Cruise to Straight-Set Victories
Roger Federer and Andy Murray look destined to meet in the semifinal stage of the 2013 Australian Open. Both men have looked dominant thus far, and both are into the fourth round after straight-set wins on Day 6.
No. 2-seeded Federer made short work of Aussie Bernard Tomic, winning 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 to assure fans and experts that he's still a threat to the crown. Meanwhile, 2012 U.S. Open champ and the No. 3-seeded Murray breezed by Ricardas Berankis, winning on the strength of his first serve, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5.
Two more wins for each man, and the stage will be set for an epic Aussie Open semifinal between the two most recent Grand Slam champions on the men's side.
Azarenka Gets Tested
It took until the third round, but women's No. 1 seed Victoria Azarenka was finally tested on Day 6, needing three sets to get by unseeded American Jamie Hampton, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2. Although the Belarusian looked vulnerable on several occasions during a bumpy second set, she ultimately prevailed thanks to some patient, clean and fluid tennis down the stretch.
After committing 23 unforced errors through the match's first two sets, Azarenka ratcheted up her play, recording just five unforced errors in the third and final set. Hampton would commit 20 errors in the decisive frame.
Hampton can point to those costly errors in addition to her missed break-point opportunities on Saturday as the main reasons why her run at the 2013 Australian Open has ended in the third round.
Del Potro Comes Out Sluggish and Never Fully Recovers
Few predicted unseeded Jeremy Chardy defeating Juan Martin del Potro on Day 6, but it happened anyway. The under-the-radar French player snuck up on del Potro on Saturday, jumping up by two sets early on the big Argentine before he even knew what hit him.
The No. 6-seeded del Potro would win the third set via tiebreaker and win the fourth set comfortably to force a fifth and final set, but it was too little, too late in the end. Chardy crushed 16 winners (78 total for the match), smashed six aces and converted on 9-of-11 net points to win the final set with ease, taking the match 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 3-6, 6-3.
The loss is both shocking and disappointing for the 24-year-old del Potro. One year after making a run to the quarterfinals in Melbourne, the 2009 U.S. Open champion will be headed home after the third round.
Focused Serena Blasts Her Way into Fourth Round
It's no secret that Serena Williams boasts a powerful serve, and she showed it off on Saturday. Williams was sensational on Day 6, taking out Ayumi Morita in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3.
The impressive third-round win was highlighted by Serena's monster serve, which has proven to be her greatest asset during her most recent stretch of success. She even tied her fastest serve ever during the match, according to ESPN Stats & Info (via Twitter):
Serena Williams had a serve of 128.6 MPH in her win today, matching her fastest serve ever (she had one that speed earlier in the event)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 19, 2013
Williams recorded nine aces for the match, compared to zero from Morita. Williams has yet to drop a single set in three matches Down Under, and she looks more focused than ever before.
Men's Third-Round Scores: Day 6
Roger Federer (2) defeated Bernard Tomic: 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1
Andy Murray (3) defeated Ricardas Berankis: 6-3, 6-4, 7-5
Jeremy Chardy defeated Juan Martin del Potro (6): 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 3-6, 6-3
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (7) defeated Blaz Kavcic: 6-2, 6-1, 6-4
Richard Gasquet (9) defeated Ivan Dodig: 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-2), 6-0
Milos Raonic (13) defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber (17): 7-6 (7-4), 6-3, 6-4
Gilles Simon (14) defeated Gael Monfils: 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 1-6, 8-6
Andreas Seppi (21) defeated Marin Cilic (12): 6-7 (2-7), 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2
Women's Third-Round Scores: Day 6
Victoria Azarenka (1) defeated Jamie Hampton: 6-4, 4-6, 6- 2
Serena Williams (3) defeated Ayumi Morita: 6-1, 6-3
Caroline Wozniacki (10) defeated Lesia Tsurenko: 6-4, 6-3
Maria Kirilenko (14) defeated Yanina Wickmayer (20): 7-6 (7-4), 6-3
Elena Vesnina defeated Roberta Vinci (16): 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4
Sloane Stephens (29) defeated Laura Robson: 7-5, 6-3
Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated Carla Suarez Navarro: 6-2, 4-6, 6-3
Bojana Jovanovski defeated Kimiko Date-Krumm: 6-2, 7-6 (7-3)
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