by Karen 

“Heat is not a curve.  It is an opportunity to separate yourself” Andre Agassi, 8 time Grand Slam champion, 4 of which were won at the Australian Open. 

Day 4 saw the return of the heat narrative.  I understand that it has been unbearably hot in Melbourne but to hear the players and the media on site talk about it, you would think that the heat in Melbourne caught everyone by surprise.  A quick search of Google turned up lots of articles before the tournament got underway that there would be record temperatures at the beginning of the tournament.  Perhaps the tournament did not do enough to inform the players, who apparently, do not even bother to check to see what the weather would be like, but apparently wait on the tournament officials to provide this information, but I digress.  Suffice it to say that there were lots of melting players in Melbourne and play was eventually suspended to allow for cooler temperatures before play resumed.
However, before that, in an encounter reminiscent of her 2007 campaign, No. 3 seed, Maria Sharapova went up against Karin Knapp of Italy and the only thing that was left to happen was for both players to melt into the court.  Credit to Sharapova for staying focused (you know what, I can’t even say it).  Well done to Sharapova for reaching the fourth round. Karin Knapp will live to fight another day.
Varvara Lepchenko of the US led 4-0 in her match against Simona Halep in the first  set and served for the set at 5-1.  She would eventually close it out at 6-4 and then would win 1 game in a 3 set loss.  She took a MTO due to heat illness.  Her opponent by the way looked as fresh as a daisy (just saying).
Carla Suarez-Navarro and Galino Voskoboeva also played a 3 setter, as did Alize Cornet and Camila Giorgi.  Navarro looked as if she ahd been through the ringer as did Cornet.  Both losers, Giorgi and Voskoboeva were understandably disappointed.  It did not help that poor Voskoboeva had to go to a doping test shortly after her match. Oh the horror.
Today will see another scorcher of a day and Spin’s Picks are below:-
Serena Williams v Daniela Hantuchova
Samantha Stosur v Ana Ivanovic 
Jie Zheng v Casey Dellacqua
Eugenie Bouchard v Lauren Davis
Na Li v Lucie Safarova
Ekaterina Makarova v Monica Niculescu
Angelique Kerber v Alison Riske
Flavia Pennetta v Mona Barthel

Thoughts on Day 5 matches. 

The world No. 1 has been conserving energy through the first two rounds but look for her to show her dominant self against an opponent against whom she has an 8-1 record. She will be looking to send a message to the rest of the field as the second week of this tournament looms. 

Ana Ivanovic and Sam Stosur. It depends on who wants it more. I think Ivanovic is hungry for a second Grand Slam and she will be feeling very confident, especially after having won a title for which she did not have to receive a wild card and beating Venus Williams in a 3 set match. 

Casey Dellaqua will be trying to be one of 2 Australian women into the second week.  I don’t think Jie will allow that to happen.  

In a battle of the juniors, I expect Bouchard to come good.  Look for the upset even though the head to head is so skewed.  Makarova may have some issues with Nicolescu but nothing to make her have a headache.  Riske for the upset and Pennetta over Barthel, but I would not be shocked if Mona finally makes good and gets to the second week. 

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