Women’s Australian Open, R4 Previews for Monday: Azarenka v Strycova, Kerber v Beck

The bottom half of the women’s draw will take centre stage on Monday with the final four fourth round matches to be played. This post covers the two matches from the third quarter of the draw including Victoria Azarenka against Barbora Strycova and Angelique Kerber playing Annika Beck.

1. Victoria Azarenka v Barbora Strycova (AO, R4)

Strycova

The biggest upset on day 6 saw Barbora Strycova defeat the number three seed, Garbiñe Muguruza, 6-3 6-2. While it makes sense for Strycova to be a tricky opponent for the Spaniard, she hadn’t won a set in two previous encounters. Strycova has had an excellent week and took out a seed in the first round, beating Caroline Garcia, 6-2 6-4, in a match she was ALL over.

While I would have loved to see a first career match-up between Muguruza and Victoria Azarenka, I think that Strycova-Azarenka should be a fun one. Azarenka continued her absolute dominance in 2016 with a 6-1 6-1 victory over Naomi Osaka in the third round. Osaka has been one of my favourite things about this first month of 2016 and I think we will see plenty more of her during the next few months. For more about Osaka, check out the No Challenges Remaining Podcast episode 141d which included plenty of content from her first two press conferences.

Head-to-head record: As per the tweet above, Azarenka and Strycova will be playing each other for the third consecutive year at the Australian Open. Strycova hasn’t won a set in four previous encounters and furthermore, hasn’t won more than four games in any of the eight sets they have played. Azarenka won their last match in the third round of the Australian Open last year, 6-4 6-4.

Interesting stat about Azarenka: Azarenka has dropped just 22 games in 8 matches this year including just FIVE games in Melbourne.

Interesting stat about Strycova: Strycova will be competing in just her second fourth round Grand Slam match. Her only previous 4th rounder was at Wimbledon where she beat Wozniacki in 2014.

Analysis: Azarenka looks in great form and is speaking a super game in press too… It’s almost a little bit too perfect! I think it’s important to note that while she has been extremely dominant, Azarenka has only played three matches against top 50 players. I’d love to see how Azarenka copes with a little bit of pressure because she really hasn’t been tested yet this year. Strycova can certainly complicate matters and I enjoyed their match at the AO last year. I’m still going for Vika in 2 but I think a sharp Strycova would make this more of a challenge for Vika.

Prediction: Azarenka d. Strycova in 2 sets

2. Angelique Kerber v Annika Beck (AO, R4)

Beck

The 2016 Australian Open has been a superb tournament for the WTA Germans and in this fourth round match between Angelique Kerber and Annika Beck, it is confirmed that at least one will be in the last eight. Kerber’s had a dreamy draw and I couldn’t think of ANYONE who has deserved it more. Kerber’s draws at the Slams were rough last year with her last three losses coming at the third round stage to Garbiñe Muguruza (X2) and Victoria Azarenka.

Kerber was on the verge of defeat in her first match at this year’s Australian Open against Misaki Doi, staving off a match point and eventually scrambling back to win, 6-7(4) 7-6(6) 6-3. I was disappointed with how Kerber played in that match as she let Doi dictate for large portions of the match. However, she did so, so well to win it in the end and fight through a back injury. Since then, Kerber has rolled through the draw with straight set wins over Alexandra Dulgheru (6-2 6-4) and Madison Brengle (6-1 6-3).

Beck has had her best week at a Grand Slam, reaching the second week for the first time in her career. The 21-year-old has yet to drop a set this week; in fact, she hasn’t lost more than four games in any of the sets she has won. Beck’s toughest match of the week came in the second round against Timea Bacsinszky who wasn’t quite on her game as she continues to get over a knee injury that thwarted her off-season. While it’s been a favourable draw, full credit to Beck for taking her opportunity.

Head-to-head record: This will be a first career match-up between Kerber and Beck.

Interesting stat: While Beck is bidding for her first ever Grand Slam quarter-final, Kerber will be trying to complete the Grand Slam sweep of quarter-finals with the Australian Open the only one missing from her collection.

Analysis: Beck has been in decent form although she hasn’t come up against a player of Kerber’s calibre. While nerves could be an issue, particularly if Kerber sits back, I fancy the more experienced German player to reach the quarter-finals.

Prediction: Kerber d. Beck in 2 sets

Photos in this post by mootennis.com

8 thoughts on “Women’s Australian Open, R4 Previews for Monday: Azarenka v Strycova, Kerber v Beck

  1. I’m not sold on Vika or Kerber. They both have not played any worthy opponents or big hitters. The bottom half of the draw was lacking great consistent players. I guess these 2 matches will tell me how far Vika and Kerber have come. Vika is very annoying, Barb is very annoying and I hope they knock each other out.

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  2. Who are the 12 people who have voted for strycova so far??? I will be truly astonished if Azarenka doesn’t win this, and expect her to do so in 2 relatively comfortable sets. Would love to see her crash out though, can’t stand the woman.
    Have a feeling Kerber will stumble against Beck, but if she’s really switched on and in control of her nerves she should be okay.

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    • Haha yeah it would be quite a shock if Strycova can beat Azarenka but there’s a slight nagging feeling in my head that she hasn’t been tested at all this week and that could throw her off at some point. Quite a few people seem to think Beck might have a shot at Kerber, or at least getting a set. I wasn’t really feeling it to be honest. I suppose Kerber could be nervous as she is clearly the favourite and expected to win.

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      • I just want Strycova to annoy Azarenka. She really annoyed me with her bitchy face. Two bitches fight in the cage. It could be fun. I am taking my day off to watch a few matches today since tomorrow is our national day. I really enjoy the atmosphere in the stadium.

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  3. I wish I was so brave or maybe so crazy that I would write here about a little chance I see for Barbora to win the match… Maybe it is just because of me being Czech 🙂

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  4. Well done to Vika,especially in the 2nd set,she showed great fight,Vika won in straight sets,Babs raised her game in the set set.Well done Vika looking good to make the final,as I have projected.:)

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