?? Australian Open, R4 preview + prediction:
?? (1) Ashleigh Barty vs. ?? (18) Alison Riske
Ash Barty continues her 2020 Australian Open campaign on Sunday with a fourth round clash against America’s Alison Riske. This match-up looms as a real test for the world number 1, Riske has won both of the previous matches between the pair, including a big upset victory at Wimbledon last year. Barty is working her way into some good form and will head into this match keen for revenge.
Ash Barty enters the second week of the tournament as the favourite to lift the trophy. The pressure is on. The top half of the draw has seriously opened up for Barty and her form is seemingly getting stronger and stronger. Barty made a scrappy start to the event with a 5/7 6/1 6/1 victory over Lesia Tsurenko before producing an improved performance to defeat Polona Hercog 6/1 6/4. Barty stepped up her level in the third round with a commanding 6/3 6/2 victory over the previously in-form 29th seeded Elena Rybakina. Barty has now won 7 matches in a row having won the tournament in Adelaide before arriving in Melbourne.
Alison Riske is through to the second week at Melbourne Park for the first time in her career. The 19th seed moved through a tough opening round match with a 7/6 2/6 6/3 win over Yafan Wang before cruising past Lin Zhu 6/3 6/1. Riske advanced to the round of 16 thanks to an extremely hard-fought 1/6 7/6 6/2 win over Julia Goerges. Riske has consistently defied the odds over the last 12 months and will fancy her chances of continuing that trend against Barty, an opponent she has good memories against.
Alison Riske holds a 2-0 head-to-head record over Ash Barty. Both of the previous matches between the pair were on a grass court, most recently Riske shocked Barty at Wimbledon last year with a 3/6 6/2 6/3 victory. Riske also defeated Barty 7/6 7/5 at an ITF event in Eastbourne in 2016.
I’m going to side with Barty here despite her previous struggles against Riske. This time the condition favour Barty, a reasonably slow hard court and a passionate Aussie crowd by her side. Barty has the game to control this match-up and is playing well enough to do just that. Barty has a far superior serve, a far more versatile game and the power and stamina to match Riske from the baseline. Barty will come into this match ready for a tough one given their most recent match and is too good to make the same mistake again.