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Angelique Kerber and Maria Sharapova are the only two former women's Grand Slam champions still remaining in the Australian Open. (AP)

Before each day's play at the Australian Open, we'll preview and predict three must-see matches.

Angelique Kerber vs. Maria Sharapova

Third-round matches at majors don’t come much more promising than this one. The last three times Sharapova and Kerber played, they went three sets, and all of them were contests of the highest athletic order. Sharapova the fearless slugger vs. Kerber the tireless retriever makes for an ideal contrast in styles, and each of these former Australian Open champions appears to be rounding into something close to top form at the moment. So far in Melbourne, Sharapova has kept the errors at bay, while Kerber has moved up in the court. But if this is contest where both women are playing well, I like Kerber’s consistency, by a (blond) hair. Winner: Kerber

Juan Martin del Potro vs. Tomas Berdych

Like Kerber vs. Sharapova, this matchup of supertalls has a second-week-at-a-major feel to it. Delpo, after all, is a Grand Slam champ, and Berdych is one of an elite group to reach the semis or better at all four majors. The Argentine and the Czech have also been evenly matched in recent years; Delpo leads their overall head to head 5-3, but they’ve split their last four meetings. Still, while Berdych has hit the ball well in his first two matches in Oz, Del Potro has been on a slow-building roll since last summer. If he advances here, he’ll be a strong dark horse for the title. Winner: Del Potro

Follow Lucie Safarova behind the scenes, throughout the season, on My Tennis Life:

Karolina Pliskova vs. Lucie Safarova

For a matchup between fellow Czechs and fellow recent Grand Slam finalists, Pliskova vs. Safarova has been surprisingly one-sided. Pliskova, the younger of the two, has won five of their six meetings. A surprise, but not a shock: She’s the bigger hitter and the more lethal server, and as of now she’s ranked 26 spots higher. But Safarova has been inside the Top 10 and deep in multiple majors, and three of her five losses to Pliskova have come in three sets. If Lucie plays well, she should make this an entertainingly fast-paced baseline battle. If Pliskova plays well, she should win it. Winner: Pliskova

Read Joel Drucker and Nina Pantic on as they report from the Australian Open, and watch them each day on The Daily Mix:


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