Australian Open Day 2 Predictions Including Alexei Popyrin vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Alexei Popyrin is one of the players carrying Australia’s hopes at the 2020 Australian Open. Popyrin faces Jo-Wilfried Tsonga while Rafael Nadal begins his slam campaign for the year against Hugo Dellien. Harsh Bhoot, David Gertler and Damian Kust offer their predictions.

Rafael Nadal vs Hugo Dellien

Harsh: The World. No. 1 begins his campaign against a relatively easier opponent in Hugo Dellien. The Bolivian failed to qualify in Auckland and will find it extremely tough to counter the topspin of the Spaniard. Expect Nadal to have an easy day out. Nadal in 3

David: This is a huge mismatch, as Dellien is almost exclusively a clay court player. Dellien’s forehand is very heavy, but it won’t trouble Nadal. In addition, Nadal’s forehand to the Dellien backhand is a major mismatch. Dellien’s serve also isn’t great, so Nadal will be in almost every Dellien service game. This one won’t be close. Nadal in 3 

Damian: The Bolivian rarely plays outside clay and looking at most of his hard court performances, he does so for a reason. He’s a great mover but does not possess enough consistent weapons to do any damage to Nadal’s stellar defence. Nadal in 3

Pierre-Hugues Herbert vs Cameron Norrie

Harsh: This should be a pretty even contest. They’ve never played before and neither player is in very good form heading into Melbourne. Norrie didn’t have a good ATP Cup campaign and the Frenchman managed to reach the last eight in Adelaide. Herbert has the bigger serve and is a very underrated singles player and with Norrie failing to win a single match in Auckland, expect the Frenchman to fight this one through. Herbert in 4

David: Herbert struggled at the end of the 2019 season, but started 2020 well in Doha, making the quarterfinals. Norrie has had a tough start to the season, going 2-3 and having yet to beat a player above World No. 323. Norrie’s groundstrokes are very flat, so there’s not a lot of margin for error when his game is off. Herbert also has his big serve that can get him out of jams. In addition, Herbert won the only head to head meeting between these two, on indoor hard. Expect Herbert to move on to the second round. Herbert in 4

Damian: After years of being a fantastic doubles player, Herbert is focusing a little more on his singles career lately. That has given mixed results so far but he’s making use of all the skills he possessed along the way. Not many players volley so well and not many big servers can also hurt their opponents so effectively on return. Should be a very fun match with two rather unorthodox players, Herbert in 4

Alexei Popyrin vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Harsh: This one has all the potential to turn into a real slugfest. Tsonga lost the only match he played in 2020 in Doha and Alexei Popyrin hasn’t managed to win a match in 2020 either. The home crowd should buoy Popyrin to go toe to toe with the power of Tsonga. Expect lots of momentum shifts throughout the match with Tsonga’s experience and serve proving to be decisive. Tsonga in 5

David: Tsonga has a bit more power than Popyrin and a lot more experience. Both players have come out the gate in 2020 a little off. Tsonga lost his only match so far in 2020 to Miomir Kecmanovic in straight sets. Popyrin has went 1-2, having lost his last two matches. The home crowd should help Popyrin keep this fairly close, but Tsonga’s big serve and forehand should win him this match. Tsonga in 4

Damian: Can the Frenchman have another deep Grand Slam run in the twilight of his career? Popyrin’s definitely not an easy first round opponent, but beating him might be a good kickstart. The Australian will have his chances though, especially with the crowd roaring in his support. Tsonga in 5

Hugo Gaston vs Jaume Munar

Harsh: The 19 year old Hugo Gaston is into his first ever Grand Slam main draw and against Jaume Munar, he has a real chance. Hard courts aren’t Munar’s strong suit but can draw on his experience to wrestle control of this match. Gaston will no doubt be pumped for this match but hasn’t had great results in challenger events this year and against Munar who has played at this level before, the lack of experience can be telling at Grand Slam level. Munar in 4

David: Gaston was excellent in ITF events last year. He dominated the Futures Tour last year and winning matches breeds high confidence. Munar had an up-and-down 2019 season, but ended the year with a title in the Montevideo Challenger. He’s much better on clay, but has went 3-3 on hard courts this season. Munar has a rally tolerance and counterpunching ability that just really isn’t seen much on the Futures Tour. Munar should wear Gaston down from the baseline and advance to the second round. Munar in 3

Damian: There were a couple of better choices for the French reciprocal wildcard, but it was Hugo Gaston who received that opportunity. Gaston has fair bit of talent himself but Munar is a much more complete player at the moment. Munar in 3

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