?? Australian Open, R4 preview + prediction:
?? (7) Petra Kvitova vs. ?? (22) Maria Sakkari
Petra Kvitova continues her quest for a maiden Australian Open title on Sunday with a tricky clash against the 22nd seeded Maria Sakkari. Kvitova has stormed through the draw in an ominous fashion for her rivals. However, Sakkari will come into this match with confidence given her positive recent record over the 2-time former Wimbledon champion.
Petra Kvitova was rarely troubled in her progress through the opening week of the tournament. Kvitova started the event with a 6/1 6/0 pounding of Katerina Siniakova which actually left Siniakova in tears. It was in the second round that Kvitova faced some challenging moments but pulled through to defeat Paula Badosa 7/5 7/5. The 7th seed played another near-perfect match to book her spot in the round of 16 with a 6/1 6/2 win over Ekaterina Alexandrova.
Maria Sakkari has also navigated her way through the opening week without dropping a single set to reach the round of 16 for the first time at a major. Sakkari easily defeated Margarita Gasparyan 6/2 6/2 in the opening round before battling past Nao Hibino 7/6 6/4. Sakkari made her biggest move in the third round where she upset the 10th seeded Madison Keys 6/4 6/4. Sakkari is enjoying strong support from the large Greek community in Melbourne.
It was Maria Sakkari who won the most recent match between the pair. The Greek player claimed a hard-fought 6/4 2/6 6/3 victory over Kvitova in Cincinnati last year. Sakkari also defeated Kvitova in Rome earlier in 2019, via retirement with Kvitova retiring down 0/4 in the deciding set. Their other completed match also took place last year with Kvitova winning 6/1 6/4 in Miami.
I’m going to side with Kvitova here. Once Kvitova gets into a major tournament she becomes tougher and tougher to beat. Sakkari is the type of player that can only beat Kvitova if the Czech player has a bad day, I don’t see that happening here. Kvitova has already played a couple of ruthless matches in Melbourne and should be too strong for Sakkari on this surface. Kvitova has looked very sharp and focused and will know that she has a great opportunity to go all the way in Melbourne given the state of the draw.