Angelique Kerber vs Donna Vekic, Australian Open R2 Preview

Australian Open 🇦🇺 R2 Preview
🇩🇪 (21) Angelique Kerber vs 🇭🇷 Donna Vekic

Angelique Kerber continues her 2018 Australian Open campaign on Thursday with a second round clash against Donna Vekic. Kerber heads into this match on a 10-match winning streak having won all of her matches at the Hopman Cup and winning the title in Sydney last week. An interesting side note heading into this match is that Vekic is now working with Torben Beltz, Kerber’s long time former coach.

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Kerber is the form player on tour right now, the 2016 Australian Open champion is playing well enough to suggest that she can be a title contender this week in Melbourne. Kerber got off to a brilliant start with a 6-0 6-4 win over Anna-Lena Friedsam. Kerber rocketed through the opening set before facing a tough test from her compatriot. The former world number 1 came up with some brilliant play towards the end of the match to get past the dangerous 23-year-old.

Donna Vekic has made a reasonable start to the new year. Vekic made it to the quarter-final stage in Hobart last week thanks to a few straight set wins over decent opposition. Vekic made a good start in Melbourne, claiming a 7-5 6-3 win over Nao Hibino.

The only previous match between the pair took place last year at the Rogers Cup. Kerber won a hard-fought match 6-4 7-6.

Ashleigh Barty vs Camila Giorgi, Australian Open R2 Preview

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🇦🇺 (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.

Agnieszka Radwanska vs Lesia Tsurenko, Australian Open R2 Preview

Australian Open 🇦🇺 R2 Preview
🇵🇱 (26) Agnieszka Radwanska vs 🇺🇦 Lesia Tsurenko

Agnieszka Radwanska and Lesia Tsurenko will go head-to-head in an interesting second round clash at Melbourne Park on Thursday. Radwanska and Tsurenko both required 3 sets to get through their opening round matches, both were forced to come from a set down. Both will look to raise their level heading into this difficult second round match.

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Radwanska has a brilliant record in Melbourne, the Pole is a two-time former semi-finalist at the event but is the lowly 26th seed at this years event. Radwanska got off to a very shaky start in her first round match, the Pole was blitzed by Kristyna Pliskova early but recovered to claim a 2-6 6-3 6-2 win. Radwanska’s form during the Australian summer has been solid enough having reached the quarter-finals in Auckland and Sydney prior to arriving in Melbourne.

Lesia Tsurenko survived a very tough opening round test. The Ukrainian defeated Russian rising-star Natalia Vikhlyantseva 3-6 6-3 6-4. Tsurenko brought decent form to Melbourne Park having reached the semi-final stage at the Hobart International last week.

The only previous match between the pair ended in a 6-1 6-0 win for Radwanska on clay in Brussels back in 2012.

Anastasija Sevastova vs Maria Sharapova, Australian Open R2 Preview

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🇱🇻 (14) Anastasija Sevastova vs 🇷🇺 Maria Sharapova

A blockbuster second round clash in Melbourne sees the 14th seeded Anastasija Sevastova renew hostilities with Maria Sharapova. Sevastova and Sharapova played out a couple of epic encounters towards the end of the 2017 season, expect another close battle on Thursday. Sevastova defeated Sharapova at the fourth round stage of the U.S Open whilst the Russian got the better of Sevastova in a 3 set marathon at the China Open a few months later. The contrast in styles between these two makes for a fascinating contest.

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Anastasija Sevastova made a shaky start to her 2018 Australian Open campaign. Sevastova found herself down a set to Varvara Lepchenko but regained her composure nicely to claim a 3-6 6-3 6-2 win over the American. Sevastova has generally been in good form during the Australian summer, most notably in her run to the semi-finals at the Brisbane International. Sevastova’s serve has notably improved in 2018, the Latvian is serving a lot more aces and having more success behind her first serve in general, making her a more complete, dangerous player.

Maria Sharapova reached the second round with a routine 6-1 6-4 victory over Germany’s Tatjana Maria, Sharapova’s first round victory was her first victory at Melbourne Park since her infamous failed drug test at the event in 2016. Sharapova did what she had to do but was far from her best. It is worth noting that Sharapova was quite tentative to come forward to the net throughout the match, a sign that Sharapova is still low on confidence. Sharapova will need to be more brave against Sevastova or she will be punished.

The head-to-head record is split at 1 win apiece, both matches were late last year. Sevastova defeated Sharapova 5-7 6-4 6-2 at the U.S Open whilst Sharapova beat Sevastova 7-6 5-7 7-6 at the China Open. Clearly this is a tight match-up, expect another close match in Melbourne.

Johanna Konta vs Bernarda Pera, Australian Open R2 Preview

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🇬🇧 (9) Johanna Konta vs 🇺🇸 (LL) Bernarda Pera

Johanna Konta continues her quest for a maiden Grand Slam title on Thursday with a second round clash against American Lucky-loser Bernarda Pera. Konta was clinical in her opening round match at Melbourne Park, despatching Madison Brengle with little fuss. Konta will be hoping for a similarly straightforward victory here.

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Konta made her first big breakthrough at Melbourne Park, reaching the semi-final stage in 2016. Konta also reached the quarter-finals in Melbourne last year. Clearly Konta has fond memories at this event and the quick conditions suit the Britt perfectly. Konta made a perfect start to her 2018 campaign on Tuesday, beating Johanna Konta 6-3 6-1 in little over an hour. Konta produced a very clean performance, hitting 8 aces amongst 37 winners whilst her serve was only broken once.

Bernarda Pera fell at the final stage of the qualifying draw, beaten by Viktorija Golubic in straight sets. Pera found herself in the draw courtesy of receiving after lucky-loser spot when Margarita Gasparyan pulled out of the event due to injury. Pera made the most of her spot in the main draw, the American beat
Anna Blinkova 6-2 6-2 to claim her first ever win in the main draw of a Grand Slam.

This will be the first career meeting between Konta and Pera.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs Kateryna Bondarenko, Australian Open R2 Preview

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🇷🇺 (15) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs 🇺🇦 Kateryna Bondarenko

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova laboured through her opening round match in Melbourne, needing three sets to get past Kateryna Kozlova. Pavlyuchenkova will face another Ukrainian in the second round where she comes up against Kateryna Bondarenko. Pavlyuchenkova will be hoping for a more commanding performance here.

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Pavlyuchenkova will bring momentum into this second round match having won the final 6 games in her 3-6 6-4 6-3 victory over Kateryna Kozlova in the opening round. Pavlyuchenkova has not made a good start to the season, the Russian lost all 3 of her singles matches the Hopman Cup and was then forced to withdraw from the Sydney International. Pavlyuchenkova reached the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park last year, her current form suggests she will really struggle to emulate that run in 2018.

Kateryna Bondarenko also claimed a hard-fought opening round clash at Melbourne Park. Bondarenko defeated Viktorija Golubic 7-6 4-6 6-2. Bondarenko has already competed in a lot of tough matches this year in Brisbane in Sydney, the 31-year-old is still capable of beating decent opposition on her day.

Pavlyuchenkova holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Bondarenko. Interestingly it was Bondarenko who won the most recent match between the pair, a 6-2 6-7 6-4 victory at Indian Wells in 2016.

Magdalena Rybarikova vs Kirsten Flipkens, Australian Open R2 Preview

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🇸🇰 (19) Magdalena Rybarikova vs 🇧🇪 Kirsten Flipkens

An interesting second round clash at Melbourne Park will sees Magdalena Rybarikova take on Kirsten Flipkens. This is a fascinating match-up between two very unique players on the WTA tour. Rybarikova was very impressive in her opening round win over Townsend and will look to build on that win with another solid performance against Flipkens

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Rybarikova started her 2018 Australian Open campaign in style by beating Taylor Townsend 6-0 7-5. Rybarikova cruised through the opening set but found herself in danger when she squandered a break lead in the second set. Rybarikova kept her cool, executed her game by mixing up the play from the baseline and not allowing Townsend to dominate with her forehand. The quick hard court surface in Melbourne seems quite perfect for Rybarikova.

Kirsten Flipkens battled past Alison Riske to reach the second round stage in Melbourne. Flipkens was in trouble but rallied to claim a gutsy 2-6 7-6 6-3 win over the American. Flipkens has not made It to the third round of a Grand Slam since Wimbledon 2014 and will see this second round match-up as a good opportunity to reverse that trend.

Rybarikova holds a 4-3 head-to-head record over Flipkens. Their only recent match took place in New Haven last year where Flipkens won 6-3 6-4.

Jelena Ostapenko vs Ying-Ying Duan, Australian Open R2 Preview

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🇱🇻 (7) Jelena Ostapenko vs 🇨🇳 Ying-Ying Duan

Jelena Ostapenko continues her 2018 Australian Open campaign on Wednesday where she will take on China’s Ying-Ying Duan in the second round. The 7th seeded Latvian made a good start in Melbourne Park by beating Francesca Schiavone in straight sets in what was the 20-year-old’s first appearance on Rod Laver Arena. Ostapenko is likely to face a tougher challenge in the second round against Duan, an opponent that has weapons of her own that can hurt Ostapenko.

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Jelena Ostapenko opened the 2018 Australian Open proceedings on Rod Laver Arena. Ostapenko played a fairly clean match to easily get past fellow Roland Garros champion Francesca Schiavone 6-1 6-4. The bottom half of the draw has already opened up after just 1 round. Ostapenko is clearly one player that is capable of making the most of an open draw.

Ying-Ying Duan also rocketed through her opening round match in Melbourne. Duan thrashed Columbia’s Mariana Duque-Mariño 6-0 6-1. Duan has a very powerful game, the quick hard courts in Melbourne are the perfect conditions for the 28-year-old.

This will be the first career meeting between Ostapenko and Duan.

Julia Goerges vs Alize Cornet, Australian Open R2 Preview

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🇩🇪 (12) Julia Goerges vs 🇫🇷 Alize Cornet

Julia Goerges is arguably the form player on tour right now. Goerges is on a 15-match winning streak after beating Sofia Kenin in straight sets in the opening round at Melbourne Park on day 1. Goerges has never made it past the fourth round at the Australian Open, the 12th seed will look to change that stat in 2018 given her current form. Goerges continues her campaign on Wednesday where she comes up against Alize Cornet in the second round. Goerges has won all 5 of the previous matches between the pair.

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Goerges is full of confidence right now. Goerges arrived in Melbourne having won her last 3 tournaments. The German won Moscow and Zhuhai to end 2017 and started the new year by winning the title at the ASB Classic in Auckland. Goerges’ straight set win over Wozniacki in the Auckland final was particularly impressive. Goerges made a decent start to her Australian Open campaign, beating Sofia Kenin 6-4 6-4. Goerges served very well but was no quite at her best, she did what she needed to do.

Alize Cornet was given a very favourable opening round draw in Melbourne. Cornet defeated Chinese wild-card Xiyu Wang 6-4 6-2 in what was a fairly competitive match. Cornet had too much experience and class for her 16-year-old opponent. Cornet will face a huge step up in opposition when she takes on Julia Goerges in the second round.

Goerges holds a 5-0 head-to-head record over Cornet. Only 2 of those matches were recent enough to be relevant. A 6-4 6-0 win on clay in Stuttgart in 2016 and a 6-3 6-3 win on a hard court in Wuhan in 2015.

Madison Keys vs Qiang Wang, Australian Open R1 Preview

Australian Open 🇦🇺 R1 Preview
(17) 🇺🇸 Madison Keys vs 🇨🇳 Qiang Wang

An interesting opening round clash at Melbourne Park sees Madison Keys come up against China’s Qiang Wang. Madison Keys is one of many serious contenders to claim a maiden Grand Slam title in 2018. Keys came agonizingly close to winning that maiden Grand Slam title in 2017 when she reached the final at the U.S Open. Keys is yet to win a match since reaching the U.S Open final and will face a tough early test in Melbourne against Wang, a very solid, consistent opponent.

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Madison Keys was unable to compete at the Australian Open in 2017 due to injury. Keys will be excited to be back in Melbourne, the scene of her first major breakthrough at a Grand Slam. Keys made it through to the semi-finals at Melbourne Park in 2015. Keys does not have good form heading into this event having not won a competitive match for months. There is no doubt that Madison’s best tennis is up there with the best, however her worst tennis is bad enough to make her vulnerable at these early stages of the first Grand Slam of the year.

Qiang Wang played in just 1 event in the lead up to Melbourne. Wang suffered a surprise opening round loss in Shenzhen, beaten by Alison Riske in straight sets. The quick hard courts in Melbourne should favour the game of Wang, the Chinese woman has struggled on the big stage and would like to change that in 2018. A match with Keys in the opening round in Melbourne is the perfect opportunity for Wang to claim a big scalp at a major event.