Australian Open 2019 WTA – Daily Predictions

2019 Australian Open Predictions

Day 13 – Australian Open Predictions

Kvitova vs OsakaPreview

Day 11 – Australian Open Predictions

Kvitova d. Collins in two sets – The pick is obvious, but you just don’t know what kind of level Collins will bring to the court… ahh I hope Peak Petra comes out!

Osaka d. Pliskova in three sets – Want both of them to win, and both have been so impressive this fortnight so I’m so torn on this one…

Day 10 – Australian Open Predictions

Osaka d. Svitolina in three sets – Both players needed to get past their last two rounds in three sets – Osaka defeated the tricky players in Sevastova and Hsieh, while Svitolina defeated the hard-hitters in Zhang and Keys. Haven’t been convinced with Svitolina’s level these two rounds and she’ll really need to play aggressively to not allow Osaka to get into her rhythm. Conversely, been very impressed with how Osaka has been battling and finding different ways to get past her opponent… don’t see how Svitolina can break through her Slam semifinal duck here.

S.Williams d. Ka.Pliskova in two sets – Pliskova was so impressive against Muguruza, hitting 23 winners to just three unforced errors… She’ll have to play first-strike tennis against Serena to not allow the American to dictate play, but can she really do that with how Serena’s been serving? Serena came from the brink to defeat Halep in the previous round and all title winners always have one of those matches where they need to battle hard for the win. Going for Serena, rooting for Karolina.

Day 9 – Australian Open Predictions

Pavlyuchenkova d. Collins in three sets – While one has been on the tour for ages and the other just broke through last year, both players will be aiming for their first Grand Slam semifinal! Pavlyuchenkova and Collins scored upset wins over the more defensive players in Stephens and Kerber respectively, and while they both played well, especially Collins, both of them can be prone to inconsistency and loss of focus. I can’t decide who will be able to hold their nerve in this one. Going for the more experienced player I guess…?

Kvitova d. Barty in three sets – Kvitova leads the head to head 3-0, with their most recent meeting coming just last week in Sy.dney, where Kvitova triumphed in an exhausting and thrilling final. Peak Petra has been on it this fortnight and is now the favourite to make the final from the bottom half of the draw, which naturally makes me wary! Barty has the complete game but composure and nerves is one of the main reasons why Barty hasn’t gotten more wins over the better players. With the home crowd on her side, and a Grand Slam semifinal run at stake, I suspect Barty might be overcome with nerves on the huge points. Going with the way of the head to head.

Day 8 – Australian Open Predictions (Top Half)

S.Williams d. Halep in three sets – Serena leads the head to head 8-1, but Halep has always done a decent job at this match-up, forcing three of the eight wins from Serena to three sets. Pre-tournament I would have definitely gone for Williams, but after Halep’s win over the other Williams, I’ve been swayed a little. Halep played the best tennis of the year with forceful yet accurate play, and did not let Venus play her aggressive game at all. Serena hasn’t played any top 30 players this year too so this will be her first real test of the entire tournament, especially with Halep’s stellar counter-punching skills. I still think Serena will win this one with her brute firepower but I won’t be surprised either if Halep pulls of the win.

Ka.Pliskova d. Muguruza in three sets – Pliskova leads the head to head 7-2 and has always done everything a little better than Muguruza in this match-up. Muguruza always elevates her level at the Slams but I’ve been impressed with Pliskova’s composure and serving during the fortnight. Could be another match where Pliskova fights her way through for the victory.

Osaka d. Sevastova in three sets – The pair just met two weeks ago in Brisbane where Osaka came through in a tough three-setter. They always play epic three-set matches so this should be no different. Been impressed with how Osaka fought through a huge deficit against Hsieh and Sevastova is a similar player as well. I think her extra firepower and composure will get her through this one.

Keys d. Svitolina in two sets – Keys has been playing absolutely lights-out tennis this fortnight, absolutely bullying past Mertens in the third round and now plays another similar player in Svitolina. Svitolina needed to use her experience to a tiring three-set win over Zhang but played so passively and was struggling with some sort of injury during the match. Keys leads the head to head 2-0, and I’m expecting a similar result to the Mertens match, where Svitolina has nothing to deal with Keys’ fiery groundstrokes.

Day 7 – Australian Open Predictions (Bottom Half)

Anisimova d. Kvitova in three sets Preview

Sharapova d. Barty in three setsPreview

Stephens d. Pavlyuchenkova in two sets – Remember their epic spat in the Beijing Open last year? Yeah, it’s going to be a rematch of that one! Pavlyuchenkova is unseeded and rolling in Melbourne and is into the second week after beating Sasnovich with the loss of just three games. In contrast, Stephens’ has started the week slowly, but is starting to improve round by round and her encounter with Martic was a really good one, surprisingly. No idea what to expect from Pavs as usual but this match is definitely going to be on her racket. If the Russian doesn’t produce her best tennis than Sloane will definitely sweep up. Backing Sloane for this one.

Kerber d. Collins in two sets – Kerber beat Collins 6-1 6-0 in Eastbourne but it’s going to be a different situation on hard court. Collins is playing great but I expect Kerber to be way too solid for the American in her biggest match of her career.

Day 6 – Australian Open Predictions (Top Half)

Svitolina d. Zhang in three sets Was very impressed by Svitolina in the first two rounds but she always seems to play decently in the first rounds of a Slam, then flop in the latter stages! Zhang is a very competent player and she’s once again playing well in Melbourne. We all know what she can produce when she’s on a hot streak, and she can easily outhit and outlast Svitolina on her day. However I’ll still back Svitolina – she has the better serve and more consistent game and after the brilliant level she has been producing, I’m pretty high on her right now.

S.Williams d. Yastremska in two setsSerena is just playing incredible right now and I don’t see anyone stopping her from the top half, especially an inexperienced player in Yastremska. Interested to see how Yastremska tackles this one and whether she can hold her own against the 23-time Grand Slam champion.

Ka.Pliskova d. Giorgi in three sets – I say it everytime when trying to predict a Giorgi match that you don’t know what kind of Giorgi will come onto court, but it seems like she’s becoming a little more consistent from week to week ever since last year’s Wimbledon. Pliskova’s been so good at gritting out matches when she’s not playing her best – she’s on a seven-match winning streak now but if the ‘red hot’ Giorgi does appear she will definitely have to raise her level. This could be a very close match but siding with Pliskova’s fighting abilities to come through.

Osaka d. Hsieh in three sets – Oh gosh, this could be so, so fun. So intrigued to see whether Hsieh’s orthodox game will drive Osaka crazy, or will Osaka’s power game be able to hit through the slices and defensive play from Hsieh. This will be Osaka’s first real test of the week so it wouldn’t be surprising to see her drop a set, but I think she will eventually come through with her firepower. Currently high on Osaka and I think she can go deep in this draw.

Keys d. Mertens in two sets – Kind of like the sound of this match-up because it requires Keys to play with controlled aggression and precise strikes, and Mertens to step it up and control more points on her terms. Haven’t been impressed with Mertens’ start to the year and I think she will struggle to cope with Keys’ power eventually.

Halep d. V.Williams in two sets – Venus looked exhausted after her three-set win against Cornet and she’ll have to do what she did against the Frenchwoman to Halep, perhaps three times even better. Halep has battled past Kanepi and Kenin to get to this stage and even though she seems to be carrying an injury, those wins will definitely give her confidence heading into the next few rounds. I think her stellar counter-punching skills will eventually get the better of Venus in rallies and exhaust her eventually. 

Muguruza d. Bacsinszky in two sets – Bacsinszky has recorded four wins to start the season and the comeback is going on nicely so far. This one could be a match too far though if Muguruza is able to produce the game she did against Konta. The Muguruza-Konta match was an absolutely fantastic match-up but with the match ending at 3 a.m., it’ll be interesting to see if she has any aftereffects from that match. Anyway I think Muguruza will still be too strong for the Swiss eventually.

Q.Wang d. Sevastova in three sets – The last time they met was at the 2017 Dubai Open – both players have achieved so much since then! Wang doesn’t seem too pleased with her game so far but is still cruising along this draw comfortably. Just an instinct that she’ll be able to continue this winning run.

Day 5 – Australian Open Predictions (Bottom Half)

Barty d. Sakkari in three sets – I don’t think this is the best match-up for Barty as she tends to struggle against counter-punchers and Sakkari’s defensive skills could certainly make Barty hit one more extra ball in many rallies. Haven’t been impressed with Sakkari this year so I’ll go with Barty’s diverse game to come through this one. Hoping that this will be a cracker because the atmosphere in the arena will probably be amazing!

Wozniacki d. Sharapova in three sets – Oh this one! Both players had smooth paths to the third round but they haven’t met anyone in the top 50 so each other will be their first real tests. Sharapova was impressive in her first two rounds, dropping just three games, but playing such a good mover in Wozniacki will need her to play better and more solid tennis. Feel that Wozniacki always plays more aggressively and positively when she’s up against the likes of Serena & Sharapova and I do think her more consistent brand of tennis will get through this one. After their shady remarks off court over the years, and with their colourful head to head (Sharapova leads 6-4), fingers crossed that this will be a good one.

Kerber d. Birrell in two sets – This is a dream draw for Kerber thus far and she hasn’t played anyone in the world’s top 90 thus far! Birrell is having a breakthrough January and the home crowd’s on her side but Kerber to come through on her birthday.

Sabalenka d. Anisimova in two sets – This is a much hyped match between two of the brightest young stars on the tour. This is arguably Anisimova’s biggest match of her career and she’ll be up against it against the hard-hitting Sabalenka, who’s on a seven-match winning streak. Sabalenka seems to be everyone’s dark horse for the tournament and I think will be able to neutralise Anisimova’s weapons and set up a potential rematch with Barty from last year’s AO.

Stephens d. Martic in two sets – Kind of feel like this match will be another epic mess. Martic seems to always play well at the Slams and can cause Stephens problems but I doubt she will have the consistency to continually outhit Stephens. Sloane hasn’t hit top gear in Melbourne and I don’t think she will need to either for this one.

Garcia d. Collins in three sets – Another potential messy match… could go anyone’s way based on their ultra-aggressive games! Tend to side with the seeded player though…

Sasnovich d. Pavlyuchenkova in three sets – Sasnovich is already up to nine wins in 2019 and is just blossoming in Australia right now. She’ll have a difficult opponent up next though in the form of the hit-and-miss Pavlyuchenkova. The Russian scored a confidence boosting win over Bertens but everytime she seems to find some form, she plays terrible tennis the next day. You never know what to expect with Pavs and Sasnovich’s variety and solid tennis should help her progress to the next round if Pavlyuchenkova doesn’t hit full gear.

Kvitova d. Bencic in two sets – Kvitova gets another late match and with the help of the weather, she’s been able to play amazingly in her first two rounds, completely blowing away Rybarikova and Begu. Peak Petra is on it at the moment but with the Czech, a disappointing performance might just be in store the next day. Haven’t been impressed by Bencic’s tennis this year and no matter how Kvitova plays,  I think the latter’s groundstrokes will be way too much for Bencic to handle.

Day 4 – Australian Open Predictions (Top Half)

Halep d. Kenin in two sets – This will be Kenin’s first match against a No.1 player and her sixth match against a top ten player, going 2-3 in her previous matches against the top ten. Halep secured a very confidence boosting win over Kanepi and she should take a lot of positives out of the battle. Kenin is a competent baseline but if Halep manages to play good tennis, I think she will beat Kenin with the American’s inexperience on the big stages.

V.Williams d. Cornet in three sets – Williams leads the head to head 6-1, though Cornet won their last encounter in 2016 in three sets. Cornet hasn’t been playing her best tennis this year but she has plenty of fight and variety that could make things tough for Venus. Venus wasn’t playing at her best against Buzarnescu but showed resolute and smart tactics at the net to come back from a deficit. Feel that this could be a similar match, with Cornet putting up a good fight but Venus to secure the three-set victory in the end.

Yastremska d. Suarez Navarro in three sets – Suarez Navarro went 0-2 in her first two tournaments but secured a 7-5 6-2 victory over Clara Burel. She hasn’t been playing well of late and Yastremska should be a difficult match-up for the Spaniard. Yastremska’s so powerful and fearless and I think she could battle nerves and eventually overpower Suarez Navarro for the win.

S.Williams d. Bouchard in two sets – Ahh this sounds really fun. Their last match-up was at the 2014 WTA Finals and since then, so much has changed! Bouchard is slowly starting to find some form and she does tend to play good tennis against the big players, but anyway Serena totally doesn’t mind the pace coming at her and looked so good against Maria in the first round. Williams is looking like the favourite to reach the final from the top half of the draw now…

Bacsinszky d. Vikhlyantseva in three sets – A tough one to predict. Vikhlyantseva could easily overpower Bacsinszky on her day, yet Bacsinszky’s variety could cause a lot of troubles for her. I think Bacsinszky will use the drop shot a lot to get Vikhlyantseva forward, a part of her game where she struggles a lot. Question is if she can maintain the focus and intensity to continually retrieve Vikhlyantseva’s heavy strikes and use the variety at the right time. Sticking with Bacsinszky for now…

Muguruza d. Konta in three sets – One year ago this would have been an all top ten match-up, but now Konta is struggling outside of the world’s top 35. A huge three-set win over Tomljanovic would have definitely given a huge confidence boost to the Brit though. She’s playing decently but I would go with Muguruza on Grand Slam level.

Giorgi d. Swiatek in three sets – Hard-hitting at its finest! Could shape up to be a fun one. Giorgi is such a hard-hitter but against Swiatek she might prove to be the more patient one, surprisingly. Going for the veteran here.

Ka.Pliskova d. Brengle in two sets – This is a great draw for Pliskova to find her game before the big stages.

Osaka d. Zidansek in two sets – Same as Pliskova, Osaka should cruise through this one.

Hsieh d. Siegemund in three sets Instead of Azarenka-Hsieh we get Siegemund-Hsieh which doesn’t sound too shabby either! Both players are such tacticians on the court and frequently use the slice and drop shot, so this match will very likely feature some exhausting rallies. Edging towards Hsieh though on hard courts here.

Q.Wang d. Krunic in two sets – Should be a messy one considering Wang’s comments on how she hasn’t been playing her best tennis so far, and how Krunic always blows between hot and cold so constantly. Still expecting Wang’s more consistent and solid brand of tennis to come through.

Sevastova d. Andreescu in two sets – This will be a good test to see how Andreescu plays against a tricky opponent. She’s been playing great to start the year but Sevastova poses a different challenge with the slices and drop shots. I think Andreescu will find it difficult to hit through Sevastova; she’ll still need more experience in such kind of match-ups.

Mertens d. Gasparyan in three sets – Hipster match-up for the day – do think Gasparyan can cause Mertens some issues with her wacky game as the Belgian hasn’t come close to producing the solid tennis she did last year. Mertens to come through eventually though.

Keys d. Potapova in two sets – This sounds fun! I doubt Potapova will win this one as this is one of the biggest matches of her young career so far, and Keys is a completely different player from her first round opponent, Parmentier. Fascinated to see how Potapova fares in this one though.

Zhang d. Kr.Pliskova in three sets – Surprised to see Zhang upsetting Cibulkova, perhaps it’s 2016 AO all again? She’s way more solid from the baseline than Kr.Pliskova on usual days but it all depends on whether her mentality throughout the entire match is in the right place.

Svitolina d. Kuzmova in two sets – Don’t see Kuzmova having the consistency to upset Svitolina, and the latter served and played so positively against Golubic in the first round. Hopefully Svitolina can keep the positivity going against a much aggressive opponent.

Day 3 – Australian Open Selected Predictions (Bottom Half)

Kvitova d. Begu in two sets – Kvitova leads the head to head 3-0 and in truth this is a perfect match-up for the Czech. This should be a straight-set victory unless Kvitova makes things tough for herself.

Putintseva d. Bencic in three sets – It feels like Bencic is becoming more and more like a counterpuncher nowadays and doesn’t take more risks like she used to last time. She’s slowly finding some form but I still think confidence is not that high for her at the moment. I think this could be a good match-up for Putintseva if she is able to stay focused throughout the entire match as Bencic doesn’t have too many weapons to hit through her. Putintseva’s buckets of variety and antics could really frustrate Bencic. 

Anisimova d. Tsurenko in three sets – Won’t be the least surprised if the younger player comes up tops here. I think she does like the pace coming at her and I don’t see Tsurenko’s flat groundstrokes frustrating Anisimova too much if the American can control her aggression and nerves.

Sabalenka d. Boulter in two sets – Haven’t seen Boulter too much, Sabalenka for the win.

Barty d. Y.Wang in two sets – I think Wang’s lefty game could pose some issues but ultimately, Barty should be able to come through in straights with the home crowd’s pushing.

Sharapova d. Peterson in two sets – Peterson’s got to be nervous playing in front of a big stadium. I actually think Peterson can make a statement here but if Sharapova plays the way she did against Dart, she should secure the win in straight sets.

Wozniacki d. Larsson in two sets – Don’t see Wozniacki having any issues unless she makes things difficult for herself.

Kontaveit d. Sasnovich in three sets – This could certainly be the match of the day if both players are playing their best tennis. Sasnovich should be playing with oodles of confidence after a stunning start to the year in Australia. Issues for her is that she tends to stay back behind the baseline and play more passively when a big hitter’s hitting and striking the ball well. Kontaveit’s level can be up and down in matches, but her extra bit of firepower might just help her through into the tird round.

Bertens d. Pavlyuchenkova in two sets – Bertens leads the head to head 3-1, with Pavlyuchenkova winning their last match-up at the back end of 2018. You just don’t know what you’re going to get from Pavs in every match and Bertens’ base level, even on off days, is still pretty good. Expecting Bertens’ more consistent serving and groundstrokes to get her through this hurdle.

Collins d. Vickery in three sets – Both players had beef in their last match-up on the ITF tour so this is definitely the handshake watch of the day. Who knows who will come through this one to be honest? Both players are so erratic on their off days…

Vekic d. Birrell in two sets – Birrell has some solid strokes and has beaten quality opposition in the first three weeks of the season. Vekic though is becoming more and more consistent from the line and is becoming more secure in beating players she is expected to beat. 

Kerber d. Haddad Maia in two sets – Kerber just does everything better than her fellow lefty opponent and I don’t see any issues for the German.

Day 2 – Australian Open Selected Predictions (Top Half)

Halep d. Kanepi in three setsCan’t believe this match’s happening in the first round! Halep lost out in her first match of the year to Barty, looking shaky on break point conversions but looked decent with the groundstrokes and movement. Kanepi hasn’t played since the US Open so there are no data points of her game. Thus, I think she’ll be rusty and Halep could capitalise on this chance. It won’t be surprising to see this go in the way of Kanepi though.

Kenin d. Kudermetova in two setsI’ve watched Kudermetova before and I know she has a big game to outhit many players. Kenin is on a roll having claimed her first WTA title in Hobart, playing smart and aggressive tennis, and I think her smart play will help her get past the usually erratic Russian.

Cornet d. Arruabarrena in two setsBoth have pretty similar games but heading with Cornet, as she does play well in Australia and won three matches to make it to the semifinals in Hobart.

V.Williams d. Buzarnescu in three setsA brutal first rounder. The Venus pick seems to be very obvious because Buzarnescu hasn’t been able to win a math since the ankle roll in Montreal, yet Venus is struggling with injuries once again (is it arm or elbow?) and crashed out in Auckland in a very muddled performance to Buzarnescu. Perhaps Venus’ fight and grit might just be able to pull her through this one.

Yastremska d. Stosur in three sets – Stosur surprisingly managed to pick up one win in Sydney (against Cibulkova) but ultimately her record at home is completely dire. She has lost in the first round at Melbourne for the last three years and has never made a quarterfinal here in 16 previous visits. Yastremska is a completely fearless player and she definitely won’t be affected by the home support. Expecting ups and downs from the young talent in this match – it’s just her second Slam main draw match after all, but I think she’ll be able to outplay Stosur for the majority of the match.

Bouchard d. Peng in three sets – This is an interesting one: Bouchard’s been slowly rising up the rankings from a low of No.188 back in June to her current ranking of No.79, while Peng has been doing so too after returning from a six-month ban and managed to secure herself a spot in the main draw after winning the wildcard challenge. Peng’s the more solid hitter, but I think Bouchard is playing well enough at the moment to be able to pounce on this opportunity to make it to the second round.

S.Williams d. Maria in two setsDon’t see Maria’s slices affecting Serena too much. Intrigued to see how Williams gets off in her first official tour match of the year.

Kasatkina d. Bacsinszky in three sets – This should be a fun battle as both players use variety to frustrate their opponents. Both players haven’t gotten to a great start to 2019 though, but Bacsinszky seemed to be struggling with an injury in Sydney so I’ll go with Kasatkina.

Konta d. Tomljanovic in three sets Repeat match-up from Brisbane where Tomljanovic secured the win. Who knows with this one as both players are so erratic on their off days. Don’t know why but I’m going for Konta to get her revenge.

Muguruza d. Zheng in two sets – Zheng has some variety that could unsettle Muguruza, but it is unlikely that she’ll be able to stay consistent throughout the entire match. Let’s see whether Muguruza gets off to a ‘Slam-winning form’ start…

Swiatek d. Bogdan in three sets – Can’t wait to see Swiatek in her first professional Slam main draw match. She has a ton of power and she’s a fearless one on the court so I won’t be surprised if she completely overpowers Bogdan here.

Ka.Pliskova d. Muchova in two sets – Muchova reached the third round of last year’s US Open so it’s not like she doesn’t have the experience on the big courts… She has bundles of variety but Pliskova has become one of the best at beating players she is expected to beat. 

Osaka d. Linette in two sets – Don’t see Linette being able to put up any resistance in this one. Interesting to see how Osaka starts her campaign in Melbourne.

Gavrilova d. Zidansek in three sets – This could be a complete mess! Gavrilova has lost both her matches to start the season and she has said that she has been working on the serve during the off season so it’ll definitely take time for that part of her game to start working. Zidansek is more of a clay courter so I don’t think the Melbourne courts suit her. This match feels like a potential mess with Gavrilova’s fighting qualities helping her through this one.

Azarenka d. Siegemund in two sets – Siegemund’s not an easy opponent to start a tournament with her antics and variety. I think Azarenka will ultimately get through though.

Sevastova d. Barthel in three sets – Just an instinct that Sevastova might take the long route in this one? On her day she’ll cruise through this one by driving Barthel crazy but if she can’t stay focused throughout the entirety of the match, Barthel is a decent player who can take advantage of the lapse of concentration.

Potapova d. Parmentier in three sets Potapova joins the likes of Andreescu, Yastremska and Swiatek as she’s aiming for her first Slam main draw victory. Don’t see Parmentier causing too many issues and I feel it could be Potapova’s own mentality that will cause her more difficulty at times!

Keys d. Aiava in three setsHmm… Both are really hard hitters but Keys is the more experienced one on the big stages. Keys surprisingly didn’t enter any warm-up tournaments so I’m sure she’ll be rusty in her first match of the year. I’m not sure Aiava can take advantage of this opportunity though, especially when it comes to the clutch points…

Cibulkova d. Zhang in three sets – Little to separate them with both going winless for 2019. Both also have done well in Melbourne before (Cibulkova reached finals in 2014, Zhang had a career resurgence by reaching quarterfinals in 2016) so I won’t be surprised if they picked up their form here. Cibulkova’s mental toughness should bring her through this though as I don’t think Zhang has been playing convincingly of late and is always looking stressed out in the crucial moments of matches.

Svitolina d. Golubic in two sets – Svitolina hasn’t won a match this year and Golubic is a competent opponent on her day. Svitolina’s going into Melbourne with no one focusing on her which should help her. I think she’ll get off to a good start here with a tight two set victory.

Day 1 – Australian Open Selected Predictions (Bottom Half)

Kvitova d. Rybarikova in three sets – As most Kvitova matches go, it’ll depend on whether she can get her game going after the exhausting final against Barty in Sydney on Saturday. Rybarikova’s funky game can cause troubles for Kvitova but she hasn’t been able to produce her best tennis of late, managing to only win three games in her first match of the year against Vekic. I think Kvitova’s fighting qualities might just help her to edge this one out – the match’s scheduled at night which will help the Czech’s cause as well.

Petkovic d. Begu in three sets – The head to head is tied at two wins apiece, with Begu winning their last two encounters. Both players have also won two matches this season so far but generally, both have not been playing their best tennis for quite a while already. Thus, this could be a really messy match. Slightly siding towards Petkovic for no apparent reason…

Bencic d. Siniakova in three sets – Siniakova’s the higher ranked player right now but hasn’t been able to reach the heights she did at the back end of 2018 so far, losing out in three-setters to Tomljanovic and Mertens to start the season. Bencic reached the semifinals of Hobart, losing out to Schmiedlova in a competitive one. On the fence with this one as Siniakova’s best should beat Bencic, but if you watch the Czech’s matches you know she can’t sustain a high level throughout an entire match. Bencic’s more consistent play could secure herself a spot into the second round if Siniakova can’t find her range.

Putintseva d. Strycova in three sets – Bring out all the popcorn in the world for this one! Strycova leads the head to head 2-1, though Putintseva won their recent match-up at the French Open last year. I haven’t been convinced with Strycova’s tennis since the beginning of last year, and I was pretty impressed with what I saw in Putintseva’s upset win over Stephens in Sydney. Question is will she be able to replicate that form? I highly doubt it, but her wave of confidence after the win might just be able to help her through this one.

Tsurenko d. Alexandrova in three sets – Day 1 seriously has the potential to have a ton of messy three setters! Tsurenko reached the final of Brisbane by playing some inspired tennis, but rolled her ankle there and was pretty much limping for the rest of the match. Tsurenko might still be injured but I’m not even sure Alexandrova can take advantage of that. She has some big strokes but the Russian can barely maintain her consistency and is a bag of nerves when trying to close out matches, as proven in Sydney where she lost all types of leads to lose to Stephens. 

Anisimova d. Niculescu in two sets – First thoughts: Niculescu takes this. The Romanian’s game can cause a lot of troubles for up and coming players with that funky forehand slice. However, Anisimova has proved to be one of the best young talents on the tour with her calm and controlled aggression gamestyle. I think she will be able to pick on Niculescu’s serve and completely overpower the Romanian.

Makarova d. Boulter in two sets – Makarova has an excellent 29-11 win-loss record at the Australian Open and from 2011-2017, made six straight appearances in the second week in Melbourne. Makarova’s form has been pretty terrible of late but her left-handed game should be able to bring her past an inexperienced player at the big stage.

Sabalenka d. Kalinskaya in two sets – This match feels like 2019 Sabalenka vs 2016-17 Sabalenka: Kalinskaya perhaps hits even harder than Sabalenka from the baseline, but her game can go awry anytime considering how high stakes her game is. Sabalenka has much more tools and variety in her bag from years ago and I expect her experience to shine through in this one.

Barty d. Kumkhum in two sets – I always feel that I never see Kumkhum’s name on the tour but in Slams her name always pops out of nowhere! She’s pretty inconsistent so I expect Barty’s bag of tricks to be too difficult for the Thai to cope with.

Sakkari d. Ostapenko in two sets – Ostapenko has started off the season in terrible form and in two matches, has only won eight games! This feels like a terrible match-up for the Latvian considering Sakkari’s superior defensive skills and topspin groundstrokes. I don’t see Ostapenko getting her game for this one…

Sharapova d. Dart in two sets – I remember watching Dart play against Pliskova in Wimbledon and I was pretty impressed with her game. Not sure how much she’s improved since then and it’s going to be a huge match for her opening up proceedings on Rod Laver Arena. Sharapova continues to be struggling with injuries and having watched highlights from the 2015 AO final, her level is totally miles off from her game a few years back. Wouldn’t be surprised if Dart grabs a set in this one but I think Sharapova’s experience on the big courts will be the key factor eventually.

Wozniacki d. Van Uytvanck in two sets  – Wozniacki wasn’t playing great tennis in Auckland and it’s going to be a huge moment for her trying to defend her Slam title. Van Uytvanck is a decent opponent to start the tournament with as I don’t think she has the weaponry to cause too many issues for the Dane.

Stephens d. Townsend in three sets – I like the sound of this one as I think Townsend’s funky game could cause a lot of problems for Stephens. I didn’t like how Stephens played in Sydney but considering Townsend’s 0-7 record against top ten players, I think Stephens will utilise her experience on the big stages for the win. 

Kontaveit d. Sorribes Tormo in two sets – There’s only two outcomes in this one – either one-way traffic for Kontaveit, or a complete horror show between an inconsistent Kontaveit and a moonballing Sorribes Tormo. Not entirely convinced but heading with the former here..

Sasnovich d. Flipkens in two sets – Sasnovich leads the head to head 2-1, and has gotten off to a great start to the season with quarterfinals in Brisbane and semifinals in Sydney. Sasnovich in peak form is brilliant to watch and when she’s doing so, she perhaps has even more tricks in her bag than the slicing and dicing Flipkens. Sasnovich isn’t the most consistent player but I’ll trust her for this one…

Puig d. Pavlyuchenkova in three sets – Laughed when I saw this one! I think it’s going to be a terrible mess considering their 2018 seasons. I don’t know why I’m heading towards Puig here.

Vekic d. Mladenovic in two sets – I really like the sound of this match-up. Both players went the opposite way in the rankings last year – Vekic up and Mladenovic down. Mladenovic possesses more variety, but can barely seem to put it all together in a match nowadays. I think Vekic’s going to play a smart match and secure a straight-set win.

Kerber d. Hercog in two sets – Don’t see Hercog causing problems – Kerber for the win.

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