The bottom half of the women’s draw will kick off on Tuesday with the likes of Simona Halep, Venus Williams, Garbiñe Muguruza and Angelique Kerber all opening their Australian Open campaigns. This post covers two matches from the third quarter of the draw.
1. Caroline Garcia v Barbora Strycova (AO, R1)
One of the stand-out matches from the third quarter will see the number 32 seed, Caroline Garcia take on Barbora Strycova… this sounds like a fun one. Garcia has made an encouraging start to the year, winning three singles matches at the Hopman Cup and going 1-1 in Sydney. In her first match at the Hopman Cup, the jitters were still there for Garcia who failed to serve out the match against Heather Watson; however, she still managed to come back and win in three sets. She secured a solid win over Kristina Mladenovic in the first round of Sydney before pushing a struggling, Simona Halep to three sets in the second round. There were some positive signs for Garcia in that match but also many things that she needs to work on going forward.
Strycova has won just one match so far in 2016; a straight sets win over Kiki Bertens in Auckland. This was followed by straight set defeats to Julia Goerges (Auckland) and Johanna Larsson (Hobart). Strycova enjoyed her best ever start to a year in 2015, reaching the semi-finals of Auckland, but hasn’t begun this campaign with the same kind of success.
Head-to-head record: Strycova leads Garcia, 2-1 in their head-to-head. Garcia won their first match all the way back in 2010 in an ITF tournament in Poitiers, 7-5 7-6(3). Strycova has since responded with two straight set wins including a 7-5 6-2 victory in their last match in New Haven in 2014.
Analysis: Garcia is a fascinating player to watch because she has all the tools at her disposal… it’s just putting them altogether with a solid mental backbone. This isn’t often there although she has started 2016 in decent form. Strycova’s form for a while now hasn’t been great, while her entertainment level remains top notch. It’s not a major surprise that Strycova has had success against Garcia with her ability to change up the play and make things awkward, particularly for a big hitter like Garcia. The Frenchwoman could fly her way through this one if she’s on song, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this becomes a tedious and drawn-out affair… i’ll go with the former.
Prediction: Garcia d. Strycova in 2 sets
2. Timea Bacsinszky v Katerina Siniakova (AO, R1)
Timea Bacsinszky heads into the Australian Open with no match wins and what sounds like a dodgy knee. The Swiss player injured her knee in Luxembourg last year and the WTA Insider account tweeted that she is still playing catch-up and that the knee is not 100%. She lost to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Brisbane, 2-6 1-6 and showed a marginal improvement in Sydney, going down 6-1 1-6 3-6 to Anna Karolina Schmiedlova. In the latter, Bacsinszky’s serve and forehand both broke down and she didn’t seem to be moving with same zip as she was last year.
Bacsinszky’s first match in Melbourne will be against the 19-year-old, Katerina Siniakova. The Czech player enjoyed a solid start to 2015 with a quarter-final appearance in Shenzhen, beating Andreea Mitu and Zarina Diyas in straight sets before falling in three sets to Anna-Lena Friedsam. Siniakova finished 2015 with back-to-back ITF semi-finals in Nantes and Limoges and earlier in the year, had had some good results on the WTA tour, reaching the semi-finals of Prague and the quarter-finals of Birmingham. I haven’t seen her play this year yet but she’s an emotional character!
Head-to-head record: This will be their first career match-up on the WTA tour.
Analysis: While Siniakova is a talented prospect, this would most likely be a routine victory for Bacsinszky in any other circumstances. The Swiss player is far more experienced and is also the more stable mentally, something she would be able to use to her advantage. However, her problems with the knee sound concerning and while this is a really good draw for her, if she’s not fit and healthy, then it will be tough to progress. This pains me to say because i’m really fond of Bacsinszky but I could see Siniakova getting the upset.
Prediction: Siniakova d. Bacsinszky in 3 sets