I look forward to watching my predictions crash and burn during the next two weeks.
AO 2014 R4 – Monday Polls
AO 2019 R4 – Sunday
Petra Kvitova vs. Amanda Anisimova: The last time that Kvitova and Anisimova played each other, Anisimova snapped Kvitova’s 14 match winning streak. Kvitova comes into this match on an 8 match winning streak! I don’t have any strong opinions in this match. I won’t be surprised either way. I guess very slightly tipping towards Kvitova. AA was sensational against Sabalenka and if she brings that level to this match, then she can beat Kvitova no doubt. I’m a little bit cautious because this is the biggest match of her career and she’s in uncharted territory.
Ash Barty vs. Maria Sharapova: The pair have played just once before in Rome last year where Sharapova won, 7-5 3-6 6-2. Note this was on clay which is Sharapova’s favourite surface and Barty’s least favourite surface. Sharapova has looked superb through her first three rounds, while Barty has shown great composure to carry her form from Sydney. Barty is very consistent against lower ranked players but has often struggled against the players ranked higher than her. I can already see an improvement mentally from Barty from the first two weeks of the season. I think it will take a special performance from Barty to beat someone of Sharapova’s calibre. I’m going for Barty to do it.
Sloane Stephens vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: A Beijing rematch where the players actually had words last time! I think they settled their differences at the end so I don’t expect any drama from this clash. I think Stephens is looking very dangerous and had to play a great match to get past Petra Martic in the third round. I’ve learnt to ignore any pre-Slam form for Sloane because she can turn it on for the Slams. Pavs has been unseeded and under the radar, beating off two in-form players to make the last 16. Pavs not to be discounted, but I feel like Stephens is in her groove and will be hard to break down in this form. Stephens leads the H2H, 2-0 and I think she’s on collision course for a quarter-final with Kerber. Stephens in 2.
Angelique Kerber vs. Danielle Collins: Not much to say with this one. I think Collins will fare better than their last match in Eastbourne where she won just two games. Still… Kerber for the win.
AO 2019 R4 – Sunday Polls
AO 2019 R3 – Saturday
Simona Halep vs. Venus Williams: Both players have battled through demanding three setters to make the third round. Halep has won their last two matches comfortably including in Montreal last year – I think Venus picked up an injury in that match. Venus is such an intelligent player and I think she’ll try and close points out at the net. I tend to think though that Halep will be just too be solid and consistent. Halep in 2.
Serena Williams vs. Dayana Yastremska: Fascinated to see how Yastremska gets on in this match. The 18-year-old spoke in press about looking up to Serena. This concerns me as a player can often give their idol too much respect on their court. However, Yastremska is different IMO and an absolute fearless character on court. I’ll definitely catch up with this match on Saturday.
Karolina Pliskova vs. Camila Giorgi: Giorgi has very quietly been impressive in 2019, pushing Angelique Kerber hard in Sydney and dropping just five games in her first two matches. I expect a real battle for Pliskova. I feel like it’s one of those matches Pliskova grits her way through. Pliskova in 3.
Naomi Osaka vs. Hsieh Su-Wei: Wondering whether Hsieh Su-Wei can conjure some Melbs magic? Osaka has spoken about trying to be more mature on court and she’ll need to be on guard with this one as it promises to be a challenging match. I wouldn’t tag it with an upset alert but I think Hsieh could get a set.
Anastasija Sevastova vs. Wang Qiang: I think Sevastova will win but I do have a few doubts as she can lose her way and get into a mental rut. Wang Qiang said in press after her first round win that she wasn’t quite at her level yet. Two straight set wins though so feels like she is getting there.
Madison Keys vs. Elise Mertens: Wow to another all seeded clash. I haven’t seen either play yet this week so a little in the dark. Both seemed clutch to come through their opening two rounds, especially Mertens who has saved multiple set points in both matches. I’m not entirely convinced by Mertens yet this year and Keys has become a very reliable player at the Slams. I’m going for Madison.
Elina Svitolina vs. Zhang Shuai: I would actually tag this with a minor upset alert. Zhang has history of giant killing results, particularly at the Australian Open. I’d like to see Svits come through and break her quarter-final spell at the Slams but I wouldn’t say I am that confident of it happening!
AO 2019 R3 – Saturday Polls
AO 2019 R3 – Friday
Petra Kvitova vs. Belinda Bencic: Really pleased to see Petra get through her first two rounds comfortably. I think this will be her toughest match of the tournament so far. I think Bencic is playing some good tennis, not great, but having won two tough matches in three sets will surely give her bundles of confidence. I fancy this to be a P3tra match and i’d give BB a decent shot at the upset. Ultimately going for Petra.
Aryna Sabalenka vs. Amanda Anisimova: I think Sabalenka has made a very solid start to the tournament. I do wonder if deep down she is feeling the expectation and realising that she is being touted as a possible title contender. Anisimova has broken new ground at the Slams and can just go out swinging as the underdog. I think Sabalenka will have a match on her hands. I’ve got a weird feeling about this match. I think Sabalenka will survive a huge scare.
Ash Barty vs. Maria Sakkari: Interestingly, Sakkari won their only previous match at Indian Wells last year, 6-4 6-2. I’m looking forward to this match. I think Sakkari has some attributes that can trouble Barty. I’d expect the Aussie to get her first test of the tournament, but to be too solid and dynamic.
Caroline Wozniacki vs Maria Sharapova: I did have this match in my Tennis Draw Challenge but somehow I didn’t think it would happen! Both came into the tournament with some uncertainty and both have impressed without dropping a set. I watched back some of Woz’s first round win over AVU and I thought she played a quality match. I think it’s always a good sign when she shows positive, aggressive intent. I haven’t seen Sharapova in action yet but there’s not been much to see because she’s powered through her two opening matches for the loss of just three games in two hours and 14 minutes.
Sharapova leads Wozniacki, 6-4 in their H2H but they haven’t played in nearly four years. I put up a poll up because I think it’s really difficult to call with few data points in 2019. I’ve always thought an in-form Sharapova comes out on top in this H2H. Despite the promising start, I still have my doubts over Sharapova’s ailments and general consistency as she’s played so little in the last six months. I was impressed by Woz in the first round and feel she has generally become a more positive player and improved her serve since they last met. The Dane will need to avoid getting pushed back behind the baseline.
Hmmm i’m going for Woz 🤔.
Aliaksandra Sasnovich vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: This is the ONLY all unseeded match in the third round which is just staggering to me. It’s not a bad match-up too with Sasnovich one of the in-form players on the tour in 2019 and Pavs always being a dangerous player. This is actually the first Slam since Wimby 2015 that Pavs isn’t seeded. Interestingly, Pavs won their two previous matches last year. While the H2H and match-ups are very important, I don’t get as hung up on them as I used to. I’m going with instinct and early season form as I have been so impressed with Sasnovich.
Caroline Garcia vs. Danielle Collins: A first time match-up and uncharted territory for Collins who surprisingly to me had never won a Slam match before this tournament. I haven’t seen Garcia play this year but she has come through comfortably, albeit with a very favourable draw against two players ranked outside of the top 200. Collins is such a feisty competitor and has been very consistent on the hard courts over the past year. I’d go for the upset in this one and side with Collins.
AO 2019 R3 – Friday Polls
AO 2019 R1 – Tuesday
Simona Halep vs. Kaia Kanepi: Never has a match at the top of the drawsheet causing me so many dilemmas!!! Of course, Kanepi beat Halep in the first round of the US Open last year, 6-2 6-4. Interestingly, Kanepi hasn’t played a competitive match since the US Open. I saw a Facebook post from Kanepi in the off-season and thought she was retiring, but I completely mis-read it!
I’m actually leaning towards Halep, despite the obvious enormous threat that Kanepi poses. I think there is less expectation on Halep at this Slam as she doesn’t come in with a great deal of matches. I believe her when she says that she feels less pressure having won RG last year. Also, I thought she played a decent match against Barty in Sydney considering it was her first competitive outing in 4 months. The hitting was solid at the end and she just missed her opportunities. I will not be surprised if Kanepi wins, but I would give Halep the edge to prevail.
Sofia Kenin vs. Veronika Kudermetova: Interesting match this one. Kudermetova has qualified for her first Slam. I remember watching her in Stuttgart last year and being impressed by her game. Kenin arrives in Melbs on the back of a first title where she didn’t drop a set in Hobart. Not an easy opener but I would expect Kenin’s burst of confidence from the title win to help her in this match against an even more inexperienced opponent.
Venus Williams vs. Mihaela Buzarnescu: Brutal opener for both. Buz hasn’t won on tour since the ankle injury she picked up in Montreal last year. I haven’t watched any of her matches this year so I can’t comment on her form. She did get a set of Bencic in Hobart in what was a tight three set loss. Venus looked impressive in Auckland but ran out of steam against Andreescu in the quarter-finals. I think the Slam format of day on, day off favours Venus. I generally underestimate Venus so I would go for her in this match. I’d quite like to see Buz get a win though and start building her match confidence back up again.
Sam Stosur vs. Dayana Yastremska: I’m going for Yastremska in this match. She’s a fearless character so I doubt she will be too perturbed by the crowd cheering on the home player.
Daria Kasatkina vs. Timea Bacsinszky: I’m laughing that my two faves in the draw will play each other! Kasatkina has had a really rough start to 2019. I watched some of her match against Sasnovich in Sydney and it was sad. She was blown off the court at times and her serve was so, so vulnerable.
I actually think this match-up could be a good one for her because Bacsinszky won’t blow her off the court, or consistently push her back, which feels like an issue that affects Kasatkina mentally when she goes up against power hitters. Bacsinszky produced a pair of gutsy wins in Sydney but did look pained with a back/hip injury. A real toss-up and I want them both to win. I think Kasatkina will win the match which i’m surprised to say after that performance in Sydney. Slightly more in favour of Batch in terms of who I want to win.
Johanna Konta vs. Ajla Tomljanovic: Repeat of their second round match in Brisbane where Tomljanovic won, 6-2 7-6(2). Not sure why but I kind of feel like Konta will reverse that result. The Brit spoke in her press conference about the neck injury that bothered her in Sydney and that it has almost completely gone away now.
Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Zheng Saisai: Quite high on Muguruza, form has been solid and she’s always dangerous at a Slam, perhaps even floating under the radar this time around. Zheng Saisai can be tricky. Still, Mugs in straights.
Karolina Pliskova vs. Karolina Muchova: Good match-up! Muchova has turned heads since her win over Muguruza at the US Open and she has made a promising start to 2019 including qualifying for the AO. I haven’t seen Muchova play yet so I can’t say much about her game. Despite winning Brisbane, I just don’t see Pliskova as a contender for the AO. Perhaps unfair. This is a tough draw but she’s normally pretty clutch at getting through the early rounds. Pliskova in 2.
Naomi Osaka vs. Magda Linette: Need to get used to seeing Osaka get the top show courts. Linette actually won their only previous match in Washington last year, 6-2 3-6 6-3. That match was during Osaka’s summer slump and she seemed to be dealing with a leg issue at the time too. Osaka is really impressing me in press right now as she seems so much more comfortable and confident. She gives off a vibe that she’s chilled at the moment. I think she could have an impact on this draw so interested to see how it goes for her. Osaka in 2.
Laura Siegemund vs. Victoria Azarenka: Looking forward to seeing Azarenka again who surprisingly fell away at the end in her first round loss to Venus Williams in Auckland. On hard courts, i’d expect Azarenka to get the better of a now seemingly fully-fit, Siegemund.
Bianca Andreescu vs. Whitney Osuigwe: I want to watch this match! Two very talented teens and one of them will make the second round of a Slam for the first time in their career. I guess Andreescu for the win after what she produced in Auckland?
Elise Mertens vs. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova: Despite Schmieds making the final of Hobart, I don’t see this match as a banana skin for Mertens. I’m not sold on Mertens so far this year but think she will get through this match.
Madison Keys vs. Destanee Aiava: Big hitters paradise. Tough to say much on Keys who hasn’t played yet in 2019. I’m not entirely sure why this is but she has been practising all week. Aiava is a dangerous player but tend to think Keys will come through. Keys has been legit at the Slams of late, so much so, i’ve gone against the lack of data and got her to the SFs in my draw eek. I think she’s in a nice section of the draw.
Dominika Cibulkova vs. Zhang Shuai: One of the more difficult matches to call between two quality players who are both winless in 2019. Both players have history at the AO and good memories from banner runs. Just edging slightly towards Cibulkova but it’s pretty much a coin toss IMO.
Elina Svitolina vs. Viktorija Golubic: I just don’t know what to expect from Svitolina this tournament. She’s going in under the radar and not really talked about after an early loss to Sasnovich in Brisbane, but I kind of think that’s good. I think there’s some tough players in her section. I want to be convinced but i’m just not and can’t decide whether lack of matches coming in is good or bad. Not concerned by this opener. Svits in 2.
AO 2019 R1 – Monday
Petra Kvitova vs. Magdalena Rybarikova: H2H is in favour for Kvitova (6-1) and Rybarikova has lost her last seven matches on tour… but i’m still wary for Petra! She looked exhausted at the end of the Sydney final. I think that playing at night will favour her as it’s supposed to be very hot during the day. Kvitova in 3.
Belinda Bencic vs. Katerina Siniakova: I think these two are good friends and they’ve never played on the WTA tour (once at ITF level). Despite her success in Fed Cup last year, i’m not sold on Siniakova having a big breakthrough this season. I think Bencic is looking in fantastic shape. Not as high on BB as I have been before as the form has been up and down but I think she can go up in the rankings if she can stay healthy. Bencic in 3.
Yulia Putintseva vs. Barbora Strycova: 😂😂😂 Not the best of starts to 2019 for Strycova who is 1-2, while Poots had that great win over Stephens in Sydney which she was unable to consolidate in the next round, going down in straights to Bertens. Coin toss, 50-50, no strong feelings. Poots has been in the better form so… Strycova for the win.
Lesia Tsurenko vs. Ekaterina Alexandrova: Question marks around Tsurenko and her ankle which she rolled in the Brisbane final. She looked in fantastic form during the week but did tighten up serving for the title. Alexandrova is certainly one to watch and has a huge game that, being huge, can go off the rails. The Russian player should really have beaten Stephens in Sydney. I’d tag this with a mild upset alert.
Monica Niculescu vs. Amanda Anisimova: I’ve said it many times before that Niculescu is a good litmus test for the up-and-comers because she’s such a unique player to play. Very intrigued to see how AA gets on here as she lost to Hsieh and Maria, both similar kind of players, at the end of 2018. I do like Anisimova and tend to think she will cope with the funkiness.
Maria Sakkari vs. Jelena Ostapenko: It almost seems too obvious to go for Sakkari. Ostapenko has had a pretty dire start to the season and has yet to win a set through her first two encounters. Sakkari’s start has been OK and I think she should get plenty of support in Melbs. I’ll go with the obvious, Sakkari for the “upset”.
Maria Sharapova vs. Harriet Dart: I read comments from Dart that Sharapova has been an inspiration which is always a concern because there have been examples where a player will give their idol too much respect on the court. Sharapova is a flight risk for me because she has been thwarted by injuries of late. I just don’t know if she’s fit and healthy, and ready to take on a Slam. Dart, who really impressed me at Wimby last year, has made a great start to the season and i’d actually give Dart a fair shot at the win. Ultimately going for Sharapova.
Caroline Wozniacki vs. Alison Van Uytvanck: A big moment for Woz to come back out on Rod Laver Arena after last year’s triumph. No idea where her health/fitness is as I think she was struggling with an injury in Auckland. AVU is quite a peaky player who has the potential to really raise her game and now has a few giant killing wins to her name. Wouldn’t be totally stunned at the upset but i’d stick safe with Woz.
Sloane Stephens vs. Taylor Townsend: Intriguing match and will be the first time that they have ever played each other. While shocking, i’m not overly concerned about Stephens’s loss to Putintseva in Sydney impacting her in Melbs. I think Stephens will be far too consistent for Townsend. Stephens in 2.
Monica Puig vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: Coin toss, 50-50, really could go either way! Puig won their only previous encounter at the Olympics back in 2016. After a devastating first round win in Shenzhen, Pavs hasn’t won again and lost to two players that I wouldn’t expect a hitter of Pavs’s quality to lose to. Puig beat Mattek-Sands in both Auckland and Sydney. I’m going for Pavs but I can’t tell you why. Just an instinct.
Alison Riske vs. Kiki Bertens: Tough opener as Riske made the final in Shenzhen. Bertens leads the H2H, 2-0 but not much to take from the matches with one on clay and the other one back in 2013. I’m really high on Bertens. Despite two tough three set losses, I thought her level was very good in both Brisbane and Sydney. I wonder if her confidence may have been slightly dented by the three set losses but i’m sure she was aware that she was playing well and it was just a matter of a few points here or there. Bertens for the win.
Julia Goerges vs. Danielle Collins: One of the better first rounders. Collins is quite a character and I think players have got to be on their game to beat her. I was very impressed with Goerges in Auckland and how she reacted to being down in the scoreline in multiple matches, and finding a way back to win. I do think Goerges will come through this match but not entirely convinced about translating the Auckland form to Melbs after what happened last year. I’d love to see a Goerges-Kerber R4 match but a long way off for now.
Donna Vekic vs. Kristina Mladenovic: A year ago Mlads would have been the seed in this match-up. Definitely high on Vekic for the year after a great start in Brisbane. I used to be high on Mlads but not anymore. I wasn’t that keen on some of the comments she came out with during her banner year. I’m sure I read a quote from Mlads about how other up-and-comers have all had setbacks but she just kept on consistently rising… that’s not the case anymore. Mlads is such a confidence player. I think she played in Dubai during the off-season and was injured so that may be an issue for her right now, I don’t know. First rounders of the AO have surprised me in the past where the out-of-form player has been known to beat the in-form player. I’m still going Vekic though.
Angelique Kerber vs. Polona Hercog: So i’ve gone for Angie as my champ. I was taken on how aggressive she was at the Hopman Cup and I think that losing to Kvitova in the quarter-finals of Sydney was actually a blessing in disguise as it gives her a few days to reset and chill before Melbs. I don’t see any danger with this first rounder but famous last words. Kerber in 2.