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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Sharapova faces Kerber hurdle and Federer to deal with Gasquet: Australian Open matches to watch on Day 6

Third-round action continues in Melbourne as Djokovic and Zverev will also be seen in action

Maria Sharapova will face her first great challenge at the Australian Open this year in the form of Angelique Kerber. Dean Lewins / EPA
Maria Sharapova will face her first great challenge at the Australian Open this year in the form of Angelique Kerber. Dean Lewins / EPA

Ahead of the sixth day of action at the Australian Open on Saturday, the first grand slam tournament of the 2018 tennis season, here are some of the main matches to watch out for. All times mentioned are UAE (+4 GMT).

The full schedule for Saturday's play on the main show courts can be found here.

Alexander Zverev's service game is among the best in the game. Joe Castro / EPA
Alexander Zverev's service game is among the best in the game. Joe Castro / EPA

Chung Hyeon (KOR) v Alexander Zverev (GER X 4)

Second match on Rod Laver Arena, likely to be 7am start

The way Zverev recovered from a wobble to beat compatriot Peter Gojowczyk must have given the German plenty of satisfaction. But he will need to be wary of the South Korean Chung, known to be a feisty character on court, when the two players of the future slug it out in the third round. Zverev's superior service game and Chung's work-in-progress second serve could, in the end, make the difference.

Angelique Kerber won the Australian Open title in 2016. Mast Irham / EPA
Angelique Kerber won the Australian Open title in 2016. Mast Irham / EPA

Angelique Kerber (GER X 21) v Maria Sharapova (RUS)

First match of evening session on Rod Laver Arena, noon

After winning two majors in 2016 - including the Australian Open title - and rising to the top of the women's rankings, Kerber flopped miserably the following year. But with the glare of the spotlight now gone away, she is beginning to show signs of a comeback. Her challenge will, however, be to defeat another player who is out to prove she is still one of the best in the game. Maria Sharapova is playing at the Australian Open for the first time since her drug ban, and she also looks to prove her critics wrong. With both players equally aggressive and competitive on court, it will be a fascinating match to watch.

Roger Federer is looking good to defend his Australian Open crown. Narendra Shreshtha / EPA
Roger Federer is looking good to defend his Australian Open crown. Narendra Shreshtha / EPA

Richard Gasquet (FRA X 29) v Roger Federer (SUI X 2)

Second match on Rod Laver Arena

It looks highly unlikely Federer will get beaten by Gasquet on Saturday. The reigning champion looks peerless the moment. The head-to-head record does not look great for Gasquet either, with the Frenchman having won just twice in 18 matches. But Gasquet is a fighter who is capable of, at least, taking a set off Federer. Also, it should be a good match to watch for tennis lovers given both their playing styles are easy on the eye, and that both have the ever-so-rare single-handed backhand.

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Novak Djokovic has won the Australian Open singles title six times. Scott Barbour / Getty Images
Novak Djokovic has won the Australian Open singles title six times. Scott Barbour / Getty Images

Novak Djokovic (SRB X 14) v Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP X 21)

First match of evening session on Margaret Court Arena, noon

The big story many tennis fans are waiting to see happen is whether Djokovic can emulate Federer by winning the Australian Open on his comeback. He is one of the world's most motivated players who has won the title six times already (a seventh will make it a record among the men). His coach Andre Agassi seems to think the Serb has it in him to win despite his elbow not being a 100 per cent. His opponent Ramos-Vinolas will be fresher, having received a first-round bye, and the Spaniard will look to exploit Djokovic's lack of match fitness. Whether an upset is on the cards or not, how Djokovic takes on the challenge makes for a good story either way.

Juan Martin del Potro is once again a top-10 player. Narendra Shreshta / EPA
Juan Martin del Potro is once again a top-10 player. Narendra Shreshta / EPA

Tomas Berdych (CZE X 19) v Juan Martin del Potro (ARG X 12)

Fourth match on Hisense Arena, likely to be 9-10am start

They may no longer be top-five players, but their contrasting career trajectories mean we could be set for an interesting match. After struggling with a number of injury problems, Del Potro is back in the top 10. On the other hand, Berdych is trying to arrest a career slide that has seen him slip out of that elite group. Both players have formidable service games and are excellent baseline players. Del Potro has the advantage of form and also mental fortitude, but Berdych is not one to be written off - especially now that he is trying to make a comeback.