Australian Open Third Round Preview: Carla Suarez Navarro - Elizaveta Kulichkova
Carla Suarez Navarro returning serve at last year's Australian Open (Credit  Tennis Circus)

A highly intriguing encounter between Spanish 10th seed Carla Suarez Navarro and promising 19-year-old Russian Elizaveta Kulichkova is set to start at 9:00 PM local time on Margaret Court Arena, with the winner playing against either Australian Daria Gavrilova or French 30th seed Kristina Mladenovic

Run So Far

For Suarez Navarro, this is buisness as usual for one of the most consistent players on the pro tour in the last six years. Having made a Grand Slam quarterfinal on four serperate occasions, she's no stranger to make deep runs in Grand Slams. In order to reach the third round, Suarez Navarro first had to go through Swiss Qualifier Viktorija Golubic, winning in straight sets 7-5, 6-4. She then faced another qualifier in Greek 20-year-old Maria Sakkari who took her to 3 sets, eventually closing out the match 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-2.

Kulichkova comes into this third round encounter as the furthest she has made it into a Grand Slam. On her way to the third round, Kulichkova has made consecutive upsets, first eliminating 22nd Seed Andrea Petkovic 7-5, 6-4, then a tight three set victory over Romanian Monica Niculescu, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 in the second round. 

Game Analysis

Suarez Navarro has had a reasoanbly easy run into the third round, coming up against two qualifiers, however she was made to work for both her wins. Coming up against a young and very talented Kulichkova, she will need to make sure she doesn't lose focus during the match and use her groundstroke ablities to grind out points from the baseline. It is also important to note that Suarez Navarro has not made the fourth round of the Australian Open since 2009. 

(Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)
(Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Kulichkova will need to make sure that the nerves of making her deepest run in a Grand Slam don't effect her game as she is coming up against a very experienced competitor. She will need to come out fired up early on and try to put Suraez Navarro out of her comfort zone and try to finish points quickly. Her key will be points won of her first serve, as that stat has been at almost 70 percent for her first two matches. 

This will also be the first head-to-head meeting between these two women.

Prediction: Carla Suarez Navarro to win in three sets 

Suarez Navarro is still the clear favourite to win this match with her Grand Slam experience, however Kulichkova has been playing impressive tennis this tournament so expect this match to go the distance.