Angelique Kerber vs. Ajla Tomljanovic, US Open R1 Preview

2020 US OPEN – R1 preview + prediction: ??
?? (17) Angelique Kerber vs. ?? Ajla Tomljanovic

Angelique Kerber begins her 2020 US Open campaign with a potentially tricky opening round clash with Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic. Kerber will be looking to reverse a disappointing recent record at Flushing Meadows as she competes in her first tournament since the tour restart.

Kerber hasn’t enjoyed much success at Flushing Meadows since winning the US Open in 2016, the German has amassed a 2-3 win/loss record at the US Open over the last 3 years, including a pair of opening round exits, her least successful major over those 3 seasons. It’s hard to know what kind of level Kerber will bring into this tournament given she hasn’t played any matches since the Australian Open in January. Nevertheless, Kerber is always a threat at a major, she is a 3-time Grand Slam champion for a reason, not to be dismissed.

Tomljanovic was busy during the tour shutdown as she competed in a number of exhibition events with limited success. Tomljanovic has lost her first couple of matches since the tour restart, a straight set loss to Yulia Putintseva in Lexington, followed by a 3-set loss to Veronika Kudermetova at the Western & Southern Open. The Aussie has a poor record at Flushing Meadows having never progressed past the second round at the US Open. Tomljanovic has a poor record at Grand Slams in general, having only moved past the second round at a major on 1 occasion, all the way back in 2014 at Roland Garros when she reached the fourth round, a blight on the career of Tomljanovic.

Kerber cruised through the only previous meeting between the pair, a 6/3 6/2 win for the German at Roland Garros in 2015.

I’m going to side with Kerber here despite the German’s limited preparation for the event. Kerber is vastly more accomplished at major events, the German usually raises her level in these situations, whilst the opposite is the case for Tomljanovic. This is a good match-up for Kerber because Tomljanovic doesn’t have the raw power to consistently hit through the German and she doesn’t have the ability to consistently outlast Kerber from the baseline either. Kerber does most things better and should find a way through this one even if she is a little rusty.

Prediction: Angelique Kerber to defeat Ajla Tomljanovic in 2 sets
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Maria Sharapova vs. Ajla Tomljanovic, Abu Dhabi Preview

?? MWTC Abu Dhabi, preview + prediction
?? Maria Sharapova vs. ?? Ajla Tomljanovic

Maria Sharapova will take on Ajla Tomljanovic in the annual Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi. The ATP event is the star attraction with a field of 6 players including the top 2 ranked players, meanwhile, Sharapova and Tomljanovic will represent the WTA in a standalone exhibition match on Thursday evening.

There are no ranking points on the line here but this is an important match for both Sharapova and Tomljanovic, for different reasons. Sharapova won just 8 tour level matches last year, just 2 during the second half of the year, therefore every victory is important for Sharapova to gain confidence. Tomljanovic had one of her best seasons in 2019 and is seemingly well placed to perform even better in 2020. The problem for Tomljanovic has been not performing well in the biggest events and against the best players. A win over Sharapova, albeit in an exhibition match would boost the confidence of Tomljanovic heading into the new year.

Tomljanovic is ‘looking forward to facing Sharapova for the first time, an opponent she has always wanted to play.’ Indeed this is a good opportunity for Tomljanovic to play against one of the games biggest names. Sharapova is certainly past her prime and this is just an exhibition match but a win over Sharapova could be vital for Tomljanovic, a player who has rarely managed to beat the biggest names in tennis.

I’ll side with Tomljanovic here. This is surprisingly the first even meeting between the pair at any level. It is Tomljanovic who is in the prime of her career at the moment and I expect her to climb even higher in 2020. Sharapova is merely a novelty at this stage of her career. Tomljanovic is in better shape and more match tough, even during the off season. Expect Tomljanovic to ultimately be too solid for the Russian.

Prediction: Ajla Tomljanovic to defeat Maria Sharapova in 3 sets

Simona Halep vs. Ajla Tomljanovic, Roland Garros R1 Preview

???? Roland Garros, R1 Preview
?? (3) Simona Halep vs. ?? Ajla Tomljanovic

Simona Halep begins her title defense in Paris with a tricky opening round match-up against Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic. Halep finally broke through to claim her first major title in Paris 12 months ago in what was her fourth Grand Slam final. It will be interesting to see how Halep handles herself as the defending champion at a major for the first time, a task others have found difficult in recent times.

Simona Halep of Romania during practice at the 2019 Roland Garros Grand Slam tennis tournament

Simona Halep enters the second Grand Slam of the year as the outright favourite but there are several questions marks surrounding the Romanian’s campaign. Halep has been the most consistent performer in Paris over the last few years, Halep has reached the final in 3 of the last 5 years at Roland Garros, clearly this is her most successful major tournament. However, Halep does arrive in Paris on the back of a surprise opening round loss to Marketa Vondrousova in Rome where she received treatment on court. Furthermore, we will have to wait and see how Halep deals with the pressure of being the defending champion, a feeling she has not experienced at a Grand Slam.

Ajla Tomljanovic has performed well enough in 2019, consistently playing good tennis but is in need of a big breakthrough run at a major. Tomljanovic arrives in Paris fresh from a second round exit in Nuremburg where she was upset by Tamara Zidansek in straight sets. Tomljanovic has competed in a lot tournaments during the clay swing, her best result was a semi-final showing in Rabat. Unlike Halep, Tomljanovic is very much match-hardened for this first round clash.

The only previous meeting between the pair took place in Cincinnati last year, Halep won that match 4-6 6-3 6-3. Halep can expect another tough battle here, Tomljanovic is unlikely to be a pushover and will even fancy her chances of a claiming a big upset win, can the Aussie pull off an early surprise?

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Johanna Konta vs. Ajla Tomljanovic, Australian Open R1 Preview

?? Australian Open, R1 Preview
?? Johanna Konta vs. ?? Ajla Tomljanovic

Johanna Konta and Ajla Tomljanovic will do battle for the second time this month when they meet at the opening round stage of the Australian Open on Tuesday. Konta and Tomljanovic went head-to-head in Brisbane a few weeks ago, it was Tomljanovic who somewhat surprisingly came out on that occasion, can Konta reverse that result at Melbourne Park?

Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia in action during the first round of the 2019 Sydney International WTA Premier tennis tournament

Johanna Konta has made an erratic start to the 2019 season. Konta started the year with a significant straight set win over Sloane Stephens in Brisbane but was dumped from the tournament in the second round by Ajla Tomljanovic. Konta then went down to Sydney where she competed in the qualifying draw, Konta withdrew from her second round match with a neck injury.

Ajla Tomljanovic made a good start to the year in Brisbane. The adopted Aussie reached the quarter-finals at the Brisbane International where she defeated Katerina Siniakova and Johanna Konta before succumbing to Karolina Pliskova in 3 lopsided set match. More recently Tomljanovic was in Sydney last week where she suffered a straight set opening round loss to Camila Giorgi.

The head-to-head record between the pair is split at 1 win apiece. Both of their previous matches took place in Brisbane. Konta claimed a 3 set victory last year whilst Tomljanovic defeated Konta 6-2 7-6 a few weeks ago. Who will come out on top on this occasion?

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Lesia Tsurenko vs Ajla Tomljanovic, Miami R1 Preview

Miami Open, ????? R1 Preview
?? Lesia Tsurenko vs. ?? (wc) Ajla Tomljanovic

Lesia Tsurenko and Ajla Tomljanovic will go head-to-head for the first time when they meet at the opening round stage of the Miami Open. Tsurenko made a disappointing opening round exit last week in Indian Wells having arrived at the event on the back of winning the title in Acapulco. Perhaps Tsurenko was tired heading to Indian Wells, after a good rest she will look to rebound strongly in Miami against a very beatable opponent.

For the second year in a row Tsurenko won the title in Acapulco before heading straight to Indian Wells for an opening round exit. Tsurenko was heavily favoured to defeat Lara Arruabarrena but was outplayed in a gruelling 3 set encounter to ensure another early exit from the BNP Paribas Open. Tsurenko will be hoping for a much better result in Miami, especially given the great tennis she displayed on route to the title in Acapulco a few weeks ago.

Ajla Tomljanovic has won just 1 WTA tour level main draw match in 2018, that was a very favourable opening round draw against Destanee Aiava in the first week of the year in Brisbane. Tomljanovic did manage to reach the semi-finals of the 125K event in Indian Wells a few weeks ago but failed to qualify for the main event as she lost to Sara Sorribes Tormo in the final round of qualifying for the BNP Paribas Open.




It will be interesting to see how this match-up pans out in the first career meeting between the pair.

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Kiki Bertens vs Ajla Tomljanovic, Roland Garros R1 Preview

Roland Garros, ??? R1 Preview + Prediction
(18) ?? Kiki Bertens vs ?? Ajla Tomljanovic

Kiki Bertens looms as a dark horse heading into Roland Garros 2017. Bertens made her big breakthrough at the event last year when she reached the semi-finals of the tournament, Bertens arrives in Paris on a high after winning the title in Nuremburg. Bertens takes on Ajla Tomljanovic in the first round in Paris, a potentially dangerous first round opponent for Bertens.

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Eugenie Bouchard vs Ajla Tomljanovic, Acapulco R1 Preview

Abierto Mexicano TELCEL, ??? Acapulco R1 Preview
(6) ?? Eugenie Bouchard to defeat ?? Ajla Tomljanovic

Ajla Tomljanovic will make her long-awaited return to competitive action on Tuesday when she takes on the sixth seeded Eugenie Bouchard in the opening round in Acapulco. Tomljanovic has not played a competitive match in over a year due to a shoulder injury. It is likely to be a tough return for Tomljanovic, but winning or losing will not be her main concern here, just getting through the match without pain would be a win for the talented Australian. Whilst, it is essential that Bouchard claim a victory here.

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Ajla Tomljanovic vs Kateryna Bondarenko, Australian Open R1 Preview

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.

Prediction: Ajla Tomljanovic to defeat Kateryna Bondarenko in 3 sets

Carla Suarez Navarro vs Ajla Tomljanovic, Brisbane R1 Preview

Brisbane R1: (6) Carla Suarez Navarro vs (wc) Ajla Tomljanovic

An interesting first round clash from the Brisbane International sees sixth seed Carla Suarez Navarro come up against local wild-card Ajla Tomljanovic. This is an important match for both ladies who thrive off momentum and confidence, both will see this as a winnable match.

Carla Suarez Navarro made a spectacular start to 2015 but her form deteriorated significantly towards the end of the year. The Spaniard will be rejuvenated heading into 2016 and can draw confidence from her results during the first half of 2015. Carla has generally struggled in Brisbane, winning just 3 matches from her previous 4 appearances at the event. The fast courts don’t suit her game.

 

Brisbane resident Ajla Tomljanovic has once again been awarded a wild card to the event. Ajla had a really disappointing season in 2015, consistently underachieving and letting herself down. Ajla has seemingly had a successful offseason, taking part in the IPTL where she was able to train with fellow competitors. 2016 is a big year for Ajla, she will want to impress in Australia and show the public what she is capable of, something she is yet to do.

Carla holds a perfect 2-0 record over Ajla, both victories were in 2014. A 6-3 6-3 win at Roland Garros and a 3-6 6-2 6-1 win at the US Open. Ajla certainly has the ability to trouble Carla, Brisbane seems like the perfect place to avenge her previous losses to the Spaniard. Ajla is very comfortable with the conditions in Brisbane, having trained at the Queensland Tennis Centre during the offseason. The fast conditions will help Ajla in this match-up, she has all the weapons to hurt Carla and start her season on a high.

Prediction: Ajla Tomljanovic to defeat Carla Suarez Navarro in 3 sets

Karolina Pliskova vs Ajla Tomljanovic, Stanford QF Preview

Stanford QF: (4) Karolina Pliskova vs Ajla Tomljanovic

Another fascinating quarter-final matchup on Friday sees Karolina Pliskova take on Ajla Tomljanovic in a battle of two of the tours most powerful young talents.

Karolina Pliskova’s first half of the year was good enough to see her obtain a prime position to reach the WTA Finals in Singapore. The Czech kick-started her 2015 U.S Open series with a solid 7-5 6-2 victory over Kimiko Date-Krumm on Thursday afternoon. Pliskova’s serve was typically effective, saving all three break points she faced and winning a high percentage of first service points. Karolina will face a much greater test when she comes up against the dangerous Tomljanovic on Friday.

 

After a mostly disappointing first half to the year, Tomljanovic has made a very positive start to her U.S Open Series campaign. Tomljanovic won 12 straight games on route to a 3-6 6-0 6-0 first round victory over Vitalia Diatchenko before picking up her second top 20 victory of the year with another come from behind victory over Madison Keys in the second round.

Madison Keys dominated the opening set, however Tomljanovic was able to turn things around to record an confidence boosting 1-6 6-4 6-1 victory over the American. Ajla served well and returned well, firing deep returns at Keys and forcing the American to make mistakes. Ajla is well prepared for another big server in the form of Pliskova in the next round.

 

This will be the first tour level meeting between Karolina and Ajla. The two have met once before at the challenger level, Tomljanovic prevailed in 2 sets back in 2011.

This promises to be a fascinating encounter, I think Tomljanovic can cause another upset here. Ajla’s victory over Keys is perfect preparation for a match against Pliskova, Ajla showed that she has the game to unsettle a powerful opponent.

Prediction: Ajla Tomljanovic to defeat Karolina Pliskova in 3 sets