Panelist Predictions Australian Open Women’s Day 4: Including Maria Sharapova-Anastasija Sevastova

Maria Sharapova

Day four sees the conclusion of the second round matches at the 2018 Australian Open. Last Word on Tennis writers, David Adair, Sam Barker, James Cunningham and Yeshayahu Ginsburg give their predictions on a handful of the most competitive matches including Naomi Osaka against Elena Vesnina and Maria Sharapova facing Anastasija Sevastova.

Simona Halep vs Eugenie Bouchard

David: This match should be straightforward. Although, Simona Halep appeared a little stunned against the feisty, home country young talent Destanee Aiava early on in the first round. That competitive first set will have sharpened the Romanian up. Other than a first-round victory over Garcia, who is returning from injury, Eugenie Bouchard has done little of note since beating Sharapova on clay in Madrid.

Halep in 2

Sam: Normally I would consider this match a cakewalk for Simona Halep. There is the issue of the ankle she rolled in her first round match though, and how impeded her movement is. No matter how poor Bouchard’s form has been recently, if Halep is struggling to get around the court then the Canadian could punish her.

Halep in 3
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James: Eugenie Bouchard did well to get through a tough opening match against young Frenchwoman Oceane Dodin. Nonetheless, Halep displays more composure and consistency in her game, and I am not convinced that Bouchard has enough to really trouble the world No.1.

Halep in 2

Yesh: Even with Halep’s early struggles last match, I have to see a heck of a lot more before I’m willing to trust Bouchard in any meaningful match (except maybe against Sharapova).

Halep in 2

Ashleigh Barty vs Camila Giorgi

David: Once again, Ashleigh Barty finds herself in one of the matches of the round. A tight victory over the soaring Sabalenka in the first round represents the performance of the tournament so far. Barty held her nerve at key points better than the Belorussian and will be getting the home fans excited. She leads the head to head over the Italian Giorgi 2-0. Yet there is so little between this pair that home advantage may be the deciding factor.

Barty in 3

Sam: Ashleigh Barty has barely recovered from a brutal first round match against ball-bashing Belorussian Aryna Sabalenka, and now she has to face another big hitter in Camila Giorgi. Both are in red-hot form so expect to see plenty of highlight reel moments but the crowd and conditions will carry Barty through.

Barty in 3
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James: This intriguing match-up sees two of the game’s rising stars go head to head. Camila Giorgi has enjoyed a surge in form going into 2018 and is unlucky to come up against a player of Barty’s quality so early in the tournament. Barty is set for a good Grand Slam run this fortnight and, although this match will be a challenge for the young Aussie, she should see it through.

Barty in 3

Yesh: Barty got through a tight first-round match against a talented opponent. She didn’t seem so appreciative of the crowd’s antics in her support, but I’m guessing she’ll be fine with it this time.

Barty in 2

Naomi Osaka vs Elena Vesnina

David: Twenty-year-old Japanese prospect, Naomi Osaka is frustrating to watch. Just when she looks like she is about to take hold of a match, she lets it slip. Two wins from three matches this year hint that Osaka could be on her way to realizing her undoubted potential. That said, the 31 year old Russian, Elena Vesnina can now be counted as an accomplished singles player and may have too much experience for her still raw opponent.

Vesnina in 3

Sam: A really tough contest to call. On her day Naomi Osaka is frighteningly good but she is still quite an erratic talent and her best appears all too infrequently. Vesnina meanwhile has been a little wayward recently and may find Osaka’s pace tough to deal with. Her experience should be enough to sneak a win though.

Vesnina in 3
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James: Naomi Osaka announced herself on the world’s tennis stage last year by beating Angelique Kerber in the first round at Flushing Meadows in what was a scintillating display of attacking tennis. Her game is suited to the hard courts of Melbourne, and she should beat Vesnina comfortably.

Osaka in 2

Yesh: I really like Osaka. She has power and all the talent to be a future star. She’s just not there yet with her consistency. It’s possible she blasts Vesnina off the court, but I can’t count on it.

Vesnina in 3

Maria Sharapova vs Anastasija Sevastova

David: This is a repeat of the fourth round US Open 2017 tie, in which the Latvian prevailed. Maria Sharapova narrowly gained revenge in Beijing not long after, and that is a summary of the head-to-head. Sevastova is a great player who puts immense top-spin on her shots and it helped take Sharapova out of her rhythm in their last Slam meeting. However, Sharapova will be better prepared this time around.

Sharapova in 3

Sam: A real gem of a second-round match given the quality of their two 2017 encounters. Sevastova is a criminally underrated player in most tennis circles and has caused Maria Sharapova all manner of problems recently. The Russian is starting to finally find her feet though after returning from her drugs ban and will not take Sevastova lightly. A gritty win is on the cards.

Sharapova in 3
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James: These two have enjoyed some epic encounters over the past four months, and if history is anything to go by, then this should be a classic. Sevastova put an end to Maria Sharapova’s comeback Grand Slam run at the US Open in September before Sharapova edged her Latvian counterpart in a thrilling three-set match at the Beijing Open. Sharapova should have enough in her locker to edge the Latvian once again, if only by a whisker.

Sharapova in 3

Yesh: Maria Sharapova looks fierce and out for blood in this tournament. She gave no quarter to her same-named first-round opponent. I don’t see her doing any different until she meets someone who can challenge her.

Sharapova in 2

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni vs. Aliaksandra Sasnovich

David: Sasnovich came to prominence last year as Sabalenka’s Fed Cup teammate; they took Belarus to the final. Indoor hard-courts seem to be her ultimate favourite surface, but she has started the season well outdoors. Lucic-Baroni leads the head-to-head 2-0 but was forced to withdraw from her last match in Sydney due to injury. The Belorussian may have the edge in fitness and match sharpness.

Sasnovich in 2

Sam: Last year’s Australian Open semi-finalist faces her first big test of this year’s event in Belorussian Aliaksandra Sasnovich. Sasnovich has flown out of the blocks this year and is primed to explode into the top-50 in the world. Something just tells me that, despite her inconsistent form, experience will see Lucic-Baroni through.

Lucic-Baroni in 3
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James: The Melbourne heat will play a big role in the outcome of this match-up. Lucic-Baroni retired in her last warm-up match before the Australian Open, so she has done well to advance to the second round. But Sasnovich is better suited to dealing with the heat and humidity that will affect players when they take to the courts, and as a result, the young Belorussian will win this one comfortably.

Sasnovich in 2

Yesh: This match will fly under the radar, but it should be one of the tighter matches of the second round. Whoever wins, it’s going three, and it will be tight.

Lucic-Baroni in 3

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