In the lead-up to the Australian Open, the women take the court in Hobart. The last opportunity to sharpen skills before the first Slam of the year sees 32 players compete for a share of the $250,000 prize money.
Here’s a look at four of the matches on opening day and predictions for who’ll move on to the Round of 16.
Hobart International Day 1 Predictions
Astra Sharma vs Lauren Davis
Head to head: Sharma 0-1 Davis
Wild card Astra Sharma opens her Hobart campaign against the spunky American Lauren Davis. The Singapore-born Australian had an unremarkable 2019 with a 28-23 win-loss record. The highlight was undoubtedly the mixed doubles final at the Australian Open. Certainly, Sharma can command with stellar net play. Yet, she’ll need precision as Davis’ lightening quick speed sees her reach so many balls which should be a point ending shots. It will take some patience and perseverance for the Aussie to make it through her opener.
Lauren Davis was once as high as World #26. Certainly that’s not where she sits today, currently holding the World #63 spot. An aggressive backhand and stellar movement makes the petite American a threat in any match.
It’s an interesting match-up, and one in which Davis should win. A commanding 6-2, 6-1 win against Sharma in Auckland in 2017 gives Davis quite a confidence boost. If Davis is injury free and in good health, this should be a quick, straight sets win for the American.
Prediction: Davis in 2
Magda Linette vs Svetlana Kuznetsova
Head to head: First meeting
The sixth seed, Magda Linette, certainly doesn’t start with an easy opponent. No doubt, Svetlana Kuznetsova will use her power to push the Pole and leave her hitting off her back foot. Yet, Linette has the savvy to redirect – and the Russian will be stymied with having to chase down balls. I’ll go with the oddsmakers and predict Linette in a match which could easily go either way. It’s power versus precision and Linette should have the better movement to hold off Kuznetsova.
Prediction: Linette in 3
Rebecca Peterson vs Fiona Ferro
Head to head: First meeting
Fiona Ferro is having a tough start to 2020 as she was bounced from qualifiers in Brisbane on January 4th. A six match losing streak doesn’t bode well for the Frenchwoman when she takes on Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson. The World #62 is in for a tough outing in Hobart.
Rebecca Peterson ended her 2019 season on a high note, winning two of her last four tournaments (Nanchang and Tianjin). Yet, Tamara Zidansek mired that win streak, eliminating Peterson in the first round in Auckland.
Neither Ferro nor Peterson is playing her best. But, Peterson is the more skilled player and should clear the first hurdle in Hobart.
Prediction: Peterson in 2
Veronika Kudermetova vs Samantha Stosur
Head to head: Kudermetova 0-1 Stosur
Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova begins her Hobart run against Sam Stosur. When the 22-year-old’s serve is hitting it’s mark, Kudermetova is a tough opponent. It’s the moments when her serve is askew, her forehand is misfiring that leaves the Russian wanting. An aggressive returner, Kudermetova will be waiting to punish Sam Stosur’s second serve.
Stosur heads into Hobart with a 1-1 win/-oss record. In her third singles match of 2020, Stosur will be looking for an impactful start in her campaign. The veteran is far from her Top 10 form. Yet, in Brisbane the 35-year-old outlasted the struggling Angelique Kerber in two tight sets for her first win of the year. It’s obvious that Stosur is a talented player, yet continues to fall short.
I see Kudermetova’s resilience and consistency leading her through three sets for the win.
Prediction: Kudermetova in 3
Main Photo from Getty.