Ashleigh Barty vs. Naomi Osaka, Nottingham SF Preview

Nature Valley Open, Nottingham SF Preview
🇦🇺 (1) Ashleigh Barty vs. 🇯🇵 (3) Naomi Osaka

Two of the tour’s most promising young talents will go head-to-head in Saturday’s first semi-final in Nottingham when Ashleigh Barty comes up against Japan’s Naomi Osaka. Barty and Osaka are two of the youngest players ranked inside the top 20, this is certainly a match-up that we will be seeing a lot more of in the future. The head-to-head record between the two is split at a win apiece, who will move ahead and book their spot in the final?

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Ash Barty has rocketed in to the final 4 in Nottingham without dropping a set. Barty has made the most of a favourable draw, claiming comfortable wins over Stefanie Voegele, Ying-Ying Duan and Katie Boulter. This feels like an important couple of matches coming up for Barty in Nottingham. The Aussie has only won the 1 WTA title, it is important for her belief to start adding to her collection, the top seed has the perfect opportunity to do just that in Nottingham.

Naomi Osaka has recovered from a slow start to the event to reach a maiden semi-final on a grass court. Osaka needed 3 sets to get passed Sachia Vickery in the opening round before comfortably defeating Denisa Allertova and Mihaela Buzarnescu in straight sets.

The head-to-head record between the pair sits at 1 win apiece. The most recent match between the two took place earlier this year at the Australian Open, Osaka handily defeated Barty 6-4 6-2 in what was a near-flawless performance by Osaka. A very different result seems likely in Nottingham.

To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here

Ashleigh Barty vs. Ying-Ying Duan, Nottingham R2 Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley Open, Nottingham R2 Preview
🇦🇺 (1) Ashleigh Barty vs. 🇨🇳 Ying-Ying Duan

Ash Barty continues her Nottingham campaign on Thursday with a second round clash against China’s Ying-Yong Duan. This will be the first career meeting between Barty and Duan, a mismatch on paper, Barty will enter this match as a strong favourite and rightfully so.

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Barty produced a fairly clinical opening round performance at the Nature Valley Open. The Aussie number 1 comfortably defeated Stefanie Voegele 6-3 6-3. Barty’s strengths were on show, most notably the Aussie’s very strong serve. Barty saved all 3 break points she faced and only dropped the 4 points on serve throughout the entire match. Barty’s grass court prowess is clear, she will be very hard to stop this week. In Nottingham.

Duan also produced a strong serving performance in her opening round match in Nottingham. Duan claimed a comfortable 6-2 6-2 win over Russian qualifier Valeria Savinykh. Duan served 8 aces and won 76 percent of points behind her first serve in what was a good start to the grass court season for Duan.

It will be interesting to see if the big hitting Duan can catch form and cause Barty some problems.

To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here

Ashleigh Barty vs. Stefanie Voegele, Nottingham R1 Preview

🇬🇧 Nature Valley Open, Nottingham R1 Preview
🇦🇺 (1) Ashleigh Barty vs. 🇨🇭 Stefanie Voegele

The top seeded Ashleigh Barty opens her Nottingham campaign on Tuesday with first round clash against Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele. This is the time of the year for Barty to shine, the Aussie thrives on grass and is a player on the rise. The Aussie is the obvious pick to go on and win the title this week in Nottingham, can Voegele give her an early test?

Ash Barty had a great clay court season given clay is easily her least preferred surface. In 2017 Barty had some great results during the grass swing, a quarter-final showing in Nottingham and a runner-up in Birmingham, unfortunately she was beaten in the opening round at Wimbledon where she lost to Elin Svitolina. There is a great opportunity for Barty to push up the rankings over the next month, especially with no points to defend at Wimbledon, don’t be surprised to see her crack the top 10 for the first time.

Unlike Barty, grass is not a good surface for Voegele. Voegele has not won a tour level match on grass since 2013. Nevertheless, Voegele has been in decent form of late and will head into this opening round with nothing to lose.

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 1 win apiece. The most recent match between the two was in a Fed Cup match on clay in 2013, a 6-3 6-4 victory for Barty.

To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here

Ashleigh Barty vs. Serena Williams, Roland Garros R2 Preview

Roland Garros, R2 Preview
🇦🇺 (17) Ashleigh Barty vs. 🇺🇸 Serena Williams

The pick of the second round clashes at Roland Garros sees the 17th seeded Ashleigh Barty take on 3-time former champion Serena Williams. This is a match where we will learn a lot about Serena’s current level. Serena made her much anticipated return to Grand Slam action on Tuesday where she claimed a tight 2 set win over Kristyna Pliskova. The 23-time Grand Slam champion will face a tough test against Barty, the Aussie has a complete game and is ready to claim a big scalp.

Ashleigh Barty of Australia in action during her first-round match at the 2018 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

There were question marks surrounding the fitness of Ash Barty heading into Paris after the Aussie retired injured in her semi-final match in Strasbourg the week before Roland Garros. However, The 17th seed showed no sign of any injury in a comfortable 6-3 6-1 demolition of Natalia Vikhlyantseva in the opening round. It was a very clean and consistent performance by Barty, the serve of Barty was not broken throughout the match as she made light work of her Russian opponent.

All eyes were on Serena Williams as she returned to Roland Garros on Tuesday, it was a successful return for Serena as she claimed a hard-fought 7-6 6-4 victory over Kristyna Pliskova. It was a match with little margin, there were no breaks of serve in the opening set and both players squandered leads in the second. Ultimately Serena was too strong from the baseline and she was more composed under pressure. What stood out was the high level of intensity that Serena brought to the court and maintained throughout the match, clearly she is on a mission in Paris.

The only previous match between the pair took place at the Australian Open in 2014. It was a David vs. Goliath battle on that occasion and Serena won easily 6-2 6-1. Fast forward 4 and a half years and a lot has changed, Barty is one of the most improved players on tour and is now a star in her own right, is she ready to take down the champ?

To view my analysis / prediction for this match: Click here

Ashleigh Barty vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Strasbourg SF Preview

🇫🇷 Internationaux de Strasbourg, SF Preview
🇦🇺 (1) Ashleigh Barty vs. 🇷🇺 (3) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Top seeded Ash Barty will face her greatest test of the tournament thus far when she comes up against the third seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Friday’s second semi-final in Strasbourg. Barty and Pavlyuchenkova have both been relatively untroubled on route to the final 4, both are yet to drop a set this week and will now have their eyes firmly set on winning the title.

Barty started her Strasbourg campaign with comfortable straight set wins over Luksika Kumkhum and Pauline Parmentier. Barty was made to work harder for her 7-5 6-4 quarter-final win over Qiang Wang, Barty’s impressive serving and damaging forehand were ultimately too much for the solid Wang to handle.

Pavlyuchenkova is through to her first semi-final of 2018, it has taken her longer than expected to have some success but it has come at a good time with Roland Garros just around the corner. The Russian started the week with a 6-0 6-0 demolition of Tatjana Maria before defeating Natalia Vikhlyantseva 6-4 6-4. Pavlyuchenkova confirmed her spot in the final 4 with a solid 6-4 6-2 win over Zarina Diyas.

Pavlyuchenkova holds a 2-1 H2H record over Barty. It was Barty who won their most recent match, 6-4 6-1 in Zhuhai late last year.

To view my analysis / prediction for this match: click here

Ashleigh Barty vs Lyudmyla Kichenok, Fed Cup Preview

Fed Cup WG 2: Australia vs Ukraine, Rubber 1
🇦🇺 Ashleigh Barty vs 🇺🇦 Lyudmyla Kichenok

Ashleigh Barty and Lyudmyla Kichenok will go head-to-head in the opening rubber of the world group 2 tie between Australia and Ukraine on Saturday. The tie will be held on a purpose built grass court in Canberra. On paper this is a gigantic mismatch, world number 16 up against world number 883. Barty will be keen to make a statement in the opening rubber to set the tone for tie in Canberra. Interestingly, this will be the first tennis at the highest level played on grass in 2018.

Ash Barty spearheads Australia’s quest to return to World Group 1. Barty had a good Australian summer, reaching the final at the Sydney International and the third round at the Australian Open. Barty and the rest of the Australian team have been practising on the purpose built grass court in Canberra for about a week. Barty is extremely comfortable on a grass court, Barty won the junior title at Wimbledon and last year reached the final on grass in Birmingham.

Lyudmyla Kichenok has not played a competitive singles match in over 5 months. Instead, the 25-year-old has been focused on her doubles career where she has a decent ranking of 45 in the world. Kichenok’s doubles results during the Aussie summer were poor. Kichenok has a small amount of fed Cup experience having played in 5 ties. The last time Kichenok played a Fed Cup singles rubber was back in 2014.

The only previous match between the pair took place at Wimbledon in 2014, Barty won 6-3 7-5 in the final round of the qualifying draw.

Ashleigh Barty vs Camila Giorgi, Australian Open R2 Preview

Australian Open 🇦🇺 R2 Preview
🇦🇺 (18) Ashleigh Barty vs 🇮🇹 Camila Giorgi

Ash Barty got through a difficult opening round test at Melbourne Park, coming past Aryna Sabalenka in 3 sets. Barty will face another potentially difficult assignment on Thursday where she will take on Italy’s Camila Giorgi. Barty brought good form into the first Grand Slam of the year having reached the final of the Sydney International last week. Barty is growing in confidence and will look to equal her best run in Melbourne with a win over Giorgi.

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Ash Barty came through an extremely tough opening round match with Aryna Sabalenka on Tuesday night. The Aussie was ambushed in the opening set by red-hot Sabalenka. Barty kept her composure and eventually out-lasted Sabalenka, claiming a 6-7 6-4 6-4 victory. Barty successfully mixed up the play from the baseline with blocked returns, slice and higher balls to draw errors from the racquet of Sabalenka. Barty will face a similar test against Giorgi, another ultra-aggressive player.

Camila Giorgi also brought good form into Melbourne having reached the semi-final stage in Sydney last week. Giorgi won 6 matches in a row in Sydney after coming through the qualifying draw to reach the final 4. At her best, Giorgi is a very dangerous opponent. The Italian showed that last week with straight set wins over Sloane Stephens, Petra Kvitova and Agnieszka Radwanska. Giorgi started her Australian Open campaign with a 6-4 6-3 win over Anna Kalinskaya.

The only completed match between the pair ended in a 6-3 6-0 win for Barty on clay in Strasbourg last year.

Ashleigh Barty vs Aryna Sabalenka, Australian Open R1 Preview

Australian Open 🇦🇺 R1 Preview
(18) 🇦🇺 Ashleigh Barty vs 🇧🇾 Aryna Sabalenka

A blockbuster opening round match at Melbourne Park on Tuesday sees two of the tours most promising young prospects go head-to-head for the very first time. Barty and Sabalenka both ended 2017 in the best form of their respective careers, both have started 2018 in good form. Barty reached the final in Sydney last week whilst Sabalenka reached back-to-back quarter-finals in Shenzhen and Hobart. Barty and Sabalenka both posses powerful games, it will be fascinating to see who comes up on top here.

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Ash Barty will be competing at the Australian Open as the number 1 ranked Australian woman for the first time. A lot of pressure and expectation comes with this title, it will be interesting to see how Barty handles herself. Barty brings good form into her home Grand Slam having reached the Sydney International final last week, Barty’s first final on Australian soil. Barty claimed wins over Cepede Royg, Perez, Strycova and Gavrilova before succumbing to Kerber in straight sets in the final.

Aryna Sabalenka is a player on the rise. At the age of 19, Sabalenka has already caught the attention of the tennis world over the last few months. Sabalenka has made a good start to the season, reaching back-to-back quarter-finals. The Belarussian beat Niculescu and Kovinic in straight sets before losing to Simona Halep in straight sets in Shenzhen. In Hobart, Sabalenka beat Bouchard and Zhang in straight sets before succumbing to Lesia Tsurenko in an uncompetitive 2 set loss. Sabalenka has a huge game, her best is extremely good but she is still trying to find the right balance on court.

This will be the first meeting between the pair.

Angelique Kerber vs Ashleigh Barty, Sydney Final Preview

Sydney International 🇦🇺🦈 Final Preview
🇦🇺 Ashleigh Barty vs 🇩🇪 Angelique Kerber

Ashleigh Barty and Angelique Kerber will do battle in a blockbuster final at the Sydney International on Saturday evening. Barty and Kerber both enter this final in awesome form, particularly Kerber who has won her first 8 matches to begin 2018. Ash Barty will have the support of the home crowd. Barty is the first Aussie into the final at the Sydney International since Aussie duo Alicia Molik and Samantha Stosur contested the 2005 championship. Can Kerber silence the crowd and complete the perfect start to her 2018 campaign?

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Ash Barty made a poor start to the season in Brisbane with an opening round loss but has rebounded strongly in Sydney. The Aussie number 1 started the event in nervy fashion with unconvincing straight set wins over Veronica Cepede Royg and Ellen Perez. Barty produced her most impressive performance of the week at the quarter-final stage where she trashed Barbora Strycova 6-3 6-0. The 21-year-old confirmed her spot in her first final on home soil with a 3-6 6-4 6-2 win over Daria Gavrilova in what was a scrappy match.

Angelique Kerber continues to impress. Gone is the unmotivated 2017 Kerber, the German is resembling the player that took the tour by storm in 2016. Kerber arrived in Sydney full of confidence having won all 4 of her singles matches at the Hopman Cup last week in straight sets. Kerber started her Sydney campaign with tough 3 set wins over Lucie Safarova and Venus Williams. Kerber’s performances have improved towards the business end of the event, beating Dominika Cibulkova 6-3 6-1 before confirming her spot in a second Sydney final with a 6-2 6-3 win over an in-form Camila Giorgi. Kerber turned a 0-3, 15-40 deficit into a 6-3 set victory in the second set against Giorgi.

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 1 win apiece, both matches were in 2017. Kerber defeated Barty in Brisbane in 3 sets at the start of the season whilst more recently Barty defeated Kerber 6-3 6-4 at the season ending event in Zhuhai. Who will win their all important third meeting and head to Melbourne on the ultimate high?

Barbora Strycova vs Ashleigh Barty, Sydney QF Preview

Sydney International 🇦🇺🦈 QF Preview
🇨🇿 Barbora Strycova vs 🇦🇺 Ashleigh Barty

An interesting quarter-final match-up at the Sydney International sees Barbora Strycova take on Ashleigh Barty. Strycova and Barty have had contrasting pathways through to the final 8 in Sydney. Strycova has had a tough draw, defeating Kasatkina and Makarova whilst Barty has had a very favourable draw having beaten Cepede Royg and Perez on route to the quarter-finals. The head-to-head record is split at 1 win apiece, who will edge ahead and reach the semi-finals in Sydney?

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Barbora Strycova has made a decent start to the 2018 season, reaching back-to-back quarter-finals in Auckland and Sydney. Strycova started her Sydney campaign with a difficult 3 set victory over Daria Kasatkina, a 7-5 1-6 6-4 victory. The 31-year-old was more comfortable in her second round match, beating Ekaterina Makarova surprisingly comfortably 6-4 6-1. Strycova will be keen to replicate her run to the semi-finals in Sydney last year.

Ashleigh Barty has started to gain some much needed momentum at the Sydney International. Barty started her 2018 season with a shocking opening round to Lesia Tsurenko last week in Brisbane and arrived in Sydney under great pressure to get some victories under her belt. Barty has not been at her best this week in Sydney but she has competed well enough to claim straight set wins over Veronica Cepede Royg and Ellen Perez. Barty was fortunate enough to receive a relatively easy draw this week, her toughest test thus far will come on Thursday against Strycova.

The head-to-head between these two is split at 1 win apiece. The most recent match between the pair took place on grass in Birmingham last year, Barty claimed a 6-3 3-6 6-1 victory. Strycova won their only previous match on a hard court, 6-1 6-3 at the US Open in 2014.