Panelist Predictions Australian Open Women’s Day 6: Including Angelique Kerber-Maria Sharapova

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Angelique Kerber

Day six sees the second set of matches from the third round 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 extremely exciting matches including Angelique Kerber against Maria Sharapova and Ashleigh Barty facing Naomi Osaka.

Ashleigh Barty vs Naomi Osaka

David: I think Ashleigh Barty is really finding her groove in this tournament. Two impressive, three-set victories against dangerous opponents in Sabalenka and Giorgi in the previous two rounds – make for a sterling effort so far from the Aussie. Arguably, this is the easier of all of her matches so far. Barty can use her precision to unsettle Osaka’s power and get into her stride early.

Barty in 2

Sam: Ashleigh Barty must be getting fed up with playing power hitters after battling past Aryna Sabalenka and Camila Giorgi in the opening two rounds. On the plus side, she’s had plenty of practice against them after two three-set matches and this should stand her in good stead for a victory here.

Barty in 2
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James: Although Barty’s form this week has been good, I am going for the young Japanese star. Osaka made short work of Elena Vesnina in the previous round and her gutsy, offensive game will give her control over the baseline and allow her to dictate points. Barty will need to be consistent and keep her cool throughout the match if she is to disrupt Osaka’s rhythm.

Osaka in 3

Yesh: Osaka has power and did well just to get this far, but Barty has the better all-around game – plus she has the crowd on her side. I expect the Aussie to come through here.

Barty in 3

Lucie Safarova vs Karolina Pliskova

David: Given that Pliskova had a poor 2017 by her own standards, she is ticking along nicely here. The Czech ace is probably enjoying watching the big seeds fall whilst quietly going about her business. Safarova has impressed many commentators of late and neither player has dropped a set yet. Both probably will in this match, but Pliskova should prevail.

Pliskova in 3

Sam: We might not get a lot of long rallies but we’ll be given a serving masterclass by two of the game’s most potent servers. Pliskova has won all four of the pair’s hard court meetings and I back her to win here too. I would expect at least one tie-break in this match.

Pliskova in 2
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James: Lucie Safarova has been one of the most exciting players to watch for these past ten years when she has been on her A-game. Her leftie serve is a big weapon, and she varies her game more than Pliskova, who prefers to hang back at the baseline and outhit her opponent. Perhaps my prediction is a little naïve, but I firmly believe that if Safarova brings her A-game to the court, then she has the quality and the variety in her shotmaking to defeat Pliskova.

Safarova in 3

Yesh: Pliskova isn’t the dominant force she was for parts of last year when she took the World No.1 ranking. But she is still a very strong player and tough for anyone to beat on this surface.

Pliskova in 2

Angelique Kerber vs Maria Sharapova

David: It is good for tennis that Angelique Kerber is on her way back, with a WTA title already this year and two solid performances in Melbourne. Again, neither player has dropped a set and therein lies the key to this match. Kerber’s fight and character have been tested this season and she’s come through it. Angelique Kerber can use her potent return of serve to frustrate Sharapova and deny her any cheap points, grinding her down.

Kerber in 2

Sam: What a mammoth showdown for the third round of a Grand Slam. With seven Slam titles between them, this will be a match of the highest quality. Maria Sharapova is starting to look more like her old self but Angelique Kerber is playing tennis of a higher quality at the moment, hence why she’s on an 11 match winning streak. That will increase to 12 after this match.

Kerber in 3
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James: Seeing two multiple Grand Slam champions go head-to-head so early is great for tennis fans, and this match has the potential to be a classic. Angelique Kerber has been in scintillating form recently, as has Sharapova, so I cannot see the match being decided in straight sets. Hardly anyone has mentioned Maria Sharapova as a potential contender for the title in Melbourne, and this will suit her. This will be a similar sort of match to that which saw the Russian defeat Simona Halep at the US Open last year, and I see Sharapova prevailing again in this one.

Sharapova in 3

Yesh: What a match this is. Maria Sharapova being unseeded has led to all sorts of draw drama, and this match is no different. I think the Russian is motivated and Angelique Kerber isn’t yet at 100%, which should mean a Sharapova win.

Sharapova in 3

Aliaksandra Sasnovich vs Caroline Garcia

David: Sasnovich is growing in stature and confidence with each match played. The upward momentum in her form should continue against a fitness-lacking Garcia. The previous match against rising starlet Vondrousova will have taken its toll on the French lady. The Belorussian will do this in two.

Sasnovich in 2

Sam: After a breakthrough season in 2017, Aliaksandra Sasnovich has been one of 2018’s most impressive players. On the other side of the net, Caroline Garcia has had to battle hard to make it this far. Her retirement in Sydney before the Australian Open has led to understandable questions about her fitness and I think the Belorussian causes an upset here.

Sasnovich in 3
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James: Aliaksandra Sasnovich has had an incredible run so far in Melbourne. She recorded an impressive win over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the previous round and is undoubtedly more rested for this match than her French counterpart. On the other hand, Garcia has the experience of being involved in high-pressure matches before, and the hard courts allow her to use her serve to great effect, before punishing at the net. No matter the conditions, if Garcia keeps the points short and serves well, then this will be a straightforward affair.

Garcia in 2

Yesh: Garcia is just the better player here right now. I’m not even sure this will be a close match. At all.

Garcia in 2

Su-Wei Hsieh vs Agnieszka Radwanska

David: Radwanska is showing that classy ability to dig deep, even when you are not playing your best. Hsieh’s exploits in the last round were impressive. It’s amazing how many commentators weren’t surprised by her performance, but few predicted it. I think we will see an after the Lord Mayors showing from Hsieh and the Pole should prevail.

Radwanska in 2

Sam: Strap yourselves in because this match will have some lengthy rallies. Two players whose game is centered around craft and creativity means it should be an entertaining encounter. Hseih was impressive in defeating Muguruza in the previous round but faces a more tricky technical match-up in Radwanska. The Pole will come through but it won’t be easy.

Radwanska in 3
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James: I was not all-too surprised when Su-Wei Hsieh beat Garbiñe Muguruza in straight sets in their second-round clash. Muguruza had had bad luck with injuries in the lead-up and the harsh conditions in the Rod Laver Arena would not have helped. Nonetheless, it was a great win for Hsieh, who herself has been known to cause an upset. Her counterpart, Radwanska, has the edge in this clash, due to her experience of contesting Grand Slam matches. Moreover, she will not give Hsieh any free points, so if the Taiwanese stands any chance of winning, she cannot afford many unforced errors.

Radwanska in 2

Yesh: Hseih played the match of her life to get to this point, but doing it twice in a row won’t be possible. Expect Radwanska to breeze through this match.

Radwanska in 2

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Yeah! That’s why these are called predictions, mainly on Osaka and Hsieh’s matches, they got deeply wrong, especially the fella that said Hsieh couldn’t do it twice, look at that brother she just did and if I was Kerber I would be really careful to not be the third upset of Hsieh!

  2. And just an opinion, whether you like the player or not, putting blame to injuries as an excuse for top players not getting the wins is a really unfortunate comment, low ranked players are human too and just because their heads are not in the media all the time it doesn’t mean they are always in a perfect fit. As Muguruza said in her post-match interview Hsieh won because she played better, I am really annoyed about how commentators and even fans don’t give enough credit to low ranked players effort to grasp better results by defeating bigger players.

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