Highlights from the fifth day of Australian Open 2013 at Melbourne Park...
Maria Sharapova produced one of her best matches of recent times to obliterate Venus Williams 6-1, 6-3 in what was expected to be a blockbuster matchup, but proved to be one that was all about Maria. Venus didn’t exactly doing anything wrong, Sharapova just did too much right. And if anyone doubted how much it meant to her, she produced one of her most emphatic celebrations to greet the win. It was only a third round match.
It was, as the Australians say, a cruisey day for those at the top of the men’s draw in action today. Novak Djokovic saw off a dedicated but ultimately not quite good enough Radek Stepanek 6-4, 6-3, 7-5, David Ferrer did not have the predicted trouble against Marcos Baghdatis, winning 6-4, 6-2, 6-3, Tomas Berdych brushed aside Jurgen Melzer 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, Stanislas Wawrinka dealt with Sam Querrey 7-6(6), 7-5, 6-4, and Kei Nishikori handled Evgeny Donskoy, the most unknown third-rouner, 7-6(3), 6-2, 6-3.
Anqelique Kerber has kept a low profile at this Australian Open so far, despite being the fifth seed. But she was thrust into the spotlight with an opening match on Rod Laver Arena against the highly-touted American youngster Madison Keys. Birthday girl Kerber did not disappoint, coming through 6-2, 7-5 against the 17-year-old, and looking more and more at home on the Plexicushion with every match she plays.
Another player playing herself into form is Ana Ivanovic, who won the all-Serb battle against Jelena Jankovic in somewhat imperious fashion, seeing off her friend and rival 7-5, 6-3. Next up for Ivanovic? Radwanska.
The Kimiko story lives on
Kimiko Date-Krumm made it four wins out of four at Australian Open 2013, as she and Arantxa Parra Santonja knocked out second seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3. Rennae Stubbs, the former Aussie player turned commentator, was in the locker room with 10 players crowded around the tv watching the Japanese veteran, describing her as ‘unbelieveable.’
Julia Goerges is one of those could be great players who hasn’t yet caught fire, partly because she’s lost matches she’s needed to win. The German didn’t make that mistake today, survive a three-setter against the feisty Zheng Jie, winning 6-3, 1-6, 7-5 in just over two hours. Goerges next meets Zheng’s compatriot, Li Na in the fourth round.
It was a similar story for Agnieszka Radwanska. The No.4 seed was never in trouble against Heather Watson, but if her concentration had wavered, something else had come into play… you just never know. But as it was, the 2012 Wimbledon finalist was immaculate in her form, winning 6-3, 6-1.
Li Na too had a match she could have come unstuck in, against 27th seed Sorana Cirstea. But although husband Juan Shan wore his usual concerned expression, Li thundered through 6-4, 6-1 in just over an hour.
Janko Tipsarevic, after coming through in three against Hewit and then in five, had to find form to win 3-6 6-4 2-6 6-4 6-3 against a worn-out Julien Benneateau. He looked very much like Novak Djokovic as he dropped to his knees and let out a primal roar.
There is something about the Australian water that agrees with Ekaterina Makarova. A former Serena Williams conqueror in Melbourne, the Russian pulled off another upset, ousting 11th seed Marion Bartoli, 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-4.
There was heartening news for new Australian Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik as Australian combination Ash Barty & Casey Dellacqua pulled off a big win over No.3 seeds Lisa Raymond and Maria Kirilenko, 6-4, 6-4.
But upset of the day belonged to Kevin Anderson, the long limbed South African, who ousted Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 in almost four hours. It seems a long time ago that Verdasco played one of the matches of his life to almost but not quite beat Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals here in 2009.
What we weren’t expecting
Rain. After yesterday’s steaming temperatures, the weather broke with some rain showers that forced the roofs to close on Rod Laver and Hisense Arena, albeit only for a little bit.
They said it
"I was just really pumped. Why shouldn't I be?"
Maria Sharapova on her emphatic double fist pump reaction on beating Venus Williams
Coming up on Saturday
Rod Laver Arena
11am Victoria Azarenka  v Jamie Hampton
FB Serena Williams  v Ayumi Morita
FB Ricardas Berankis v Andy Murray 
7pm Bernard Tomic v Roger Federer 
11am Yanina Wickmayer  v Maria Kirilenko 
FB Juan Martin Del Potro  v Jeremy Chardy
FB Caroline Wozniacki  v Lesia Tsurenko
7pm Gilles Simon  v Gael Monfils
Margaret Court Arena
12pm Elena Vesnina v Roberta Vinci 
FB Jo-Wilfried Tsonga  v Blaz Kavcic
FB Venus & Serena Williams
Show Court 2
11am Svetlana Kuznetsova v Carla Suarez Navarro
FB Andreas Seppi  v Marin Cilic 
FB Sloane Stephens  v Laura Robson
FB Kimiko Date-Krumm v Bojana Jovanovski
Show Court 3
11am Ivan Dodig v Richard Gasquet
FB Milos Raonic v Philipp Kohlschreiber
Various The juniors begin
Various The legends begin
For all the reports and results from Melbourne Park, visit the Official Australian Open website