The second round of the Australian Open comes to an end tonight as 16 more men and women will advance to the third round. Here’s five matches to watch for on this first Wednesday in Melbourne:
Stan Wawrinka vs Milos Raonic
The Swiss star continues his comeback from injury as he takes on the big Canadian. Wawrinka caught a break in his first round match when Ernests Gulbis retired up a set, but down 3-1 in the second. Raonic looked solid in his opening round match, defeating Nick Kyrgios in straight sets. The big man will want to keep points short by dominating with his serve and forehand as well as moving forward on occasion as Raonic is an underrated volleyer. Stan will want to use brilliant backhand as his main weapon to move the Canadian around. If the Swiss can get off to a fast start, an upset could happen. Regardless, settle in for at least four or five thrilling sets.
Novak Djokovic vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Hard to believe it’s been 11 years since these two contested the final in Melbourne, won by Djokovic in four sets. Since then, the Serb has won 13 additional majors and cemented his status among the all-time greats while Tsonga has not been back to a Grand Slam final. He looked good in his opener against Martin Klizan and knows he’ll have to take the initiative, dictating off the ground as well as approaching the net to keep the points short while not giving Djokovic a target to fire at with his pinpoint groundstrokes. In a classic case of offense vs defense, the Rod Laver Arena crowd should be treated to an excellent match by these two wonderful players.
Venus Williams vs Alize Cornet
It was a real slog as Venus came back from the brink, down a set and a break to 25th seed Mihaela Buzărnescu before staging a massive comeback to win in three while Cornet recorded an easy victory over Lara Arruabarrena. The Frenchwoman has had success against Serena, defeating her four times and she’ll be in with a chance if Williams isn’t serving well as mixing up play with slices, angles and drop shots. The bad news for Cornet is that she doesn’t possess a lot of power and her serve is eminantly attackable to Venus’ powerful groundstrokes. This is one that could go either way and is sure to provide a few dramatic moments.
Johanna Konta vs Garbine Muguruza
Both players are seemingly playing better and this has the chance to be a very fine match. Konta won a third set match tiebreak over Ajla Tomljanovic while Muguruza had little trouble with Saisai Zheng. This one will be all about big hitting and first strike tennis with both players looking to utilize their serve to its greatest effect. Konta will look to most of her damage on the forehand while Muguruza will rely on her steady backhand. She’ll need to get back to her aggressive ways if she’s to advance to the third round. I suspect this match, to be played in the primetime session at Margaret Court Arena, will be a three-setter with the winner quite possibly not known until the final game or two.
Eugenie Bouchard vs Serena Williams
This is the second-rounder everyone had circled when the draw came out. In all honesty, Bouchard, who has looked quite good in the last few months, would do well to keep this close. Can she win? Of course. It’s tennis. Anything can happen and she has enough game to hang with Serena, but she also can get overpowered (which is likely). The 23-time major champion is in the best physical shape she’s been in in a very long time and her game looked sharp in a 49-minute demolition of Tatjana Maria. As I mentioned above, a close match will be a victory for the Canadian, who is clearly back on the way up and can use this match to see how far she’s come and how much further she has to go.