Australian Open R1: Ajla Tomljanovic vs Kateryna Bondarenko
Ajla Tomljanovic will be representing Australia at Melbourne Park for the second year in 2016 and will start her Australian Open campaign with a first round match against Kateryna Bondarenko. Tomljanovic’s preparations for the first Grand Slam of the year have unfortunately been hampered by injury, it will be interesting to see to what extent Ajla has recovered and whether she can navigate her way through a very winnable first round match.
Tomljanovic started the year at her home town event at the Brisbane International, unfortunately for Ajla she didn’t last long. Ajla was thrashed by Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1 6-2 in the opening round, the adopted Australian was clearly struggling with an abdominal injury and was a shadow of her best. Ajla decided to withdraw from the Sydney International and has been in Melbourne training for about 1 week and seems to be in a much better position to compete at a much higher level.
Kateryna Bondarenko made a solid start to the season in Brisbane, picking up victories over Sakkari and Osaka as she progressed though the qualifying draw. However, the Ukrainian suffered a disappointing first round loss to Madison Brengle in the main draw and made it back-to-back first round losses a week later in Hobart where she was defeated by Parmentier in the first round of qualifying in Hobart.
This will be the first ever meeting between Ajla and Kateryna, both will see this as a real opportunity to advance to the second round. I expect Tomljanovic to get the victory here, this is a really important match for her as she will be desperate to impress the Australian public at some stage during this Australian summer, a first round loss would be pretty disastrous. Bondarenko hasn’t won a match in Melbourne since 2010 and is a very average player. Tomljanovic certainly has far more class and ability should find a way to win this one.