As another top ten seed in Petra Kvitova departed the tournament, Serena Williams’s chances of prevailing at this year’s Australian Open received another boost. In my opinion, this match-up against Muguruza will be the defining match of her Australian Open. If she wins it, i’d fancy Serena to win the whole caboodle.
Poll Results for Saturday’s matches: 59% correctly predicted that Venus would beat Giorgi, 63% correctly predicted that Radwanska would beat Lepchenko, 70% correctly predicted that Serena would beat Svitolina, 56% correctly predicted that Cibulkova would beat Cornet, 69% correctly predicted that Azarenka would beat BZS and 31% correctly predicted that Keys would beat Kvitova.
1. Serena Williams v Garbine Muguruza (AO, R4)
In a match shrouded with intrigue and fascination, Garbine Muguruza and Serena Williams will play each other for the first time since their French Open clash last year. On that day, Muguruza defeated Williams, 6-2 6-2 with a barrage of penetrating groundstrokes. For the past two matches, Serena Williams has made sluggish starts. Against Vera Zvonareva, she saved three set points before winning 7-5 6-0. Serena lost her first set of the tournament against Elina Svitolina, but turned it around to finish with another bagel in a 4-6 6-2 6-0 win. It’s hard to really gauge where Serena’s form is at after the first three rounds. Like Serena, Garbine has scored a bagel in each of her first three rounds and furthermore, finished all of her matches with bagel sets. In the third round, Muguruza beat Timea Bacsinszky, 6-3 4-6 6-0.
I’m a big believer that Muguruza is destined for great things and I put her at number nine in my WTA predictions for the 2015 year-ending rankings. Not only has Muguruza beaten Serena, she’s consistently threatened other top ten players. She’s taken sets off Maria Sharapova and has winning head-to-heads over Simona Halep, Caroline Wozniacki and Dominika Cibulkova. This match is giving me great dilemmas in picking a winner! Originally, I went for Muguruza to prevail. Now i’m feeling nervous about that call. Muguruza has proven before that she has the game to get Serena on the ropes and more importantly, finish her off. Serena’s comments in her press conference were somewhat omnious for Garbine though…
We did see at Wimbledon though that certain players have their way against Serena… Last year, Serena was my predicted champion at all four Slams, but after her disappointing performances at the Slams in 2014 and her start to the year, i’ve felt much uncertainty surrounds her. For me, this is either Muguruza in 2 or Serena in 3. I’m going to honour my original prediction and take a risk in siding with Garbine. I really believe that Muguruza is good enough to create the upset again and if she can maintain the tactic of hitting deep down the centre and serve well, she’s going to cause Serena problems.
Prediction: Muguruza d. S.Williams in 2 tight sets
2. Victoria Azarenka d. Dominika Cibulkova (AO, R4)
Victoria Azarenka defeated Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, 6-4 6-4 to book her place in the last 16. This performance wasn’t as convincing as her win over Caroline Wozniacki in the second round, but she got the job done holding her serve in the final game of a break-happy match that featured 10 breaks of serve in just 20 games. Where Azarenka succeeded at the net against Wozniacki, she wasn’t as clean in this department against BZS. However, this is a good match-up for Vika as her penetrating groundstrokes consistently pushed Zahlavova Strycova back behind the baseline, not allowing her as much freedom as normal to implement her desired gameplan. BZS, who spent most the second set on the floor, had a horrendous miss with a regulation volley in the final game that could have seen the match have some extra legs.
Video by AustralianOpentv
Azarenka will face the 2014 Australian Open finalist, Dominika Cibulkova in the fourth round. Domi couldn’t have asked for much more this week after dropping the opening set of her first round match against Kirsten Flipkens. She saved set points in the first set of her third round match against Alize Cornet, but progressed in straight sets, 7-5 6-2. Azarenka and Cibulkova have had some feisty previous encounters; in their most recent match, Cibulkova pomed her way to a straight sets win, 6-2 7-6(4) at Roland Garros in 2012 in what was a wickedly intense match. It was a huge win for Cibulkova after she had blown a set and a double break lead in Miami a few months prior to RG. Their previous matches have been good so I have high hopes this will be a great watch. No real reasoning, but I have more faith in Vika coming through.
Prediction: Azarenka d. Cibulkova in 2 very tight sets