Three Little Pigs: Australian Open Day 4

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It’s a look at three key matches on Day 4 in Melbourne. Today’s Three Little Pigs focuses on Australian Legend Lleyton Hewitt in a mouth watering clash against David Ferrer plus the Bryan Brothers make their debut and Tim Smyczek battles Viktor Troicki.

(8) Ferrer vs (wc) Hewitt
Another huge crowd will fill Rod Laver Arena to see Lleyton Hewitt continue his farewell tour. Aussie fans will hope that Hewitt treats them with a win. Hewitt opened his 2016 campaign in Melbourne with a straight sets win over James Duckworth 7-6, 6-2, 6-4. He was good on serve, which if often his weak spot at this stage. He saved six of eight break points and figures to find himself needing similar percentages against one of the best defenders in the game. David Ferrer has no issues in his opener against Peter Gojowcyzk, winning 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. Ferrer was a rock, winning 75 percent of his service points and breaking the German five times on eight chances.

This will be meeting number four between Hewitt and Ferrer, the first since the 2012 U.S. Open. Ferrer beat the Aussie 7-6 (9), 4-6, 6-3, 6-0. Interestingly, all four of their career meetings will come at Grand Slams. The other two were at the French Open in 2008, where Ferrer won in five and Wimbledon in 2006. Hewitt won that match in four sets. Their last match highlights the problems Hewitt may have again on Thursday. He was forced to try and save 16 break points in that match with the Spaniard breaking him five times. Ferrer was more precise on serve and was broken just twice on five tries.

This likely will be a rally fest with lots of changes in momentum. You won’t get better effort than you’ll see from these two on Thursday. Ferrer should have an edge with better consistency on serve, but Hewitt will have an entire nation urging him on. Ferrer may not give Hewitt the pace on the ball that he likes to be at his best, but he also won’t blow him off the court with power. Hewitt will need to save a high percentage of his break points and keep the unforced error count low. He did that well against Duckworth, but Ferrer will be a different beast altogether. The Pig still thinks there’s magic on Laver and in Rusty’s racquet for another night.

Prediction
Hewitt wins in four sets

(3) The Bryan Bothers vs Chris Guccione-Andre Sa
As outlined in The Pig’s men’s doubles draw preview, this could be a bit tricky for the slumping American twins. The Bryans went without a Grand Slam title last season for the first time since 2004, an amazing testament to their dominance in the doubles ranks over the years. The Australian Open has been a sticking point for them the last two years as the brothers have gone out in the third round. That is a stark contrast to their past success in Melbourne where they have taken home the doubles title six times, with the last coming in 2013. To start 2016, the Bryans were beaten in Sydney by Jonathan Erlich and Colin Fleming. One match shouldn’t be cause for concern, but it won’t help their confidence.

Guccione and Sa may not be household names, but they are a legit team. They won the title in Nottingham on grass last year and have paired up regularly in 2015. Guccione is a tall serve machine, but he’s not the most consistent of players. Sa compliments him well. Generally, this is not the type of team capable of beating the Bryans, but the Bryans are not exactly in tip top form. The Americans have seen a dip in their form with their serves becoming less potent in the last year. Bob is still the stalwart in that department, while Mike has been more prone to being broken. That gets the third seeds in more trouble than they are accustomed to in most matches. They still have amazing skills in rallies and Mike remains one of the better returners in doubles play. Guccione-Sa have enough game to make these sets tight if they’re hitting on all cylinders, but the end result should see the Bryans securing passage into the second round.

Prediction
Bryans win in three sets

(21) Viktor Troicki vs (q) Tim Smyczek
Troicki had plenty of problems in his opener against Daniel Munoz-Del La Nava. The Serb was stretched to five sets to put away the Spaniard more known for his Challenger prowess on clay. Troicki trailed two sets to love before getting his game in gear. He had some service wobbles as he allowed 14 break points. He was able to save ten. It may have simply been the short turnaround from winning the Sydney title last Saturday where he was forced to play two matches on Friday due to a rain delay.Proper rest in between his first round match and today could help, but American Tim Smyczek will feel like he has a chance based on that first round display.

Smyczek put away Daniel Gimeno-Traver in four sets in round one. The American was very good on serve, winning 76 percent of the points. He ws broken just once on five break points. When Smyczek struggles, his serve is usually a key culprit. Getting that sort of performance should boost his confidence. This will be Smycze’s third trip to the second round of the Australian Open. He has lost his previous two times, most famously last year to Rafael Nadal in five sets 6-2, 3-6, 6-7 (2), 6-3, 7-5. Smyczek is one of those pesky, smaller players who wins wirh work rate and athleticism. Troicki has the power advantage and the ability to control this match both via serve and ground strokes. The question will be how much does Troicki have in the tank after a long week in Sydney and an extended first round match that saw him on court for nearly three and a half hours.

Don’t expect Smyczek to be intimidated in this one as he’s been around the tour for many years and has played upper tier players plenty of times. His best bet for an upset on Thursday would be a quick start to provide Troicki with some food for thought on how long he will be out on court again. The conditions Thursday should take some bite off Troicki’s game with cooler temperatures and some showers forecast. Qualifiers have a history of sneaking at least one of their own into the third round in Melbourne in three of the last four years. Twice, those wins have come at the cost of a seeded player. Perhaps Smyczek can channel Donald Young circa 2015 U.S. Open third round.

Prediction
Smyczek wins in four sets

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