WTA Tour: Australian Open Selected Ro64 Matches Preview

Tennis player holds racquet

Damien Kayat previews two of the most intriguing matches from the second round of the Australian Open.

Anett Kontaveit 9/10 | Aliaksandra Sasnovich 8/10
Estonian Anett Kontaveit eased past Sorribes Tormo in the opening match and is coming off a solid opening to the season. She reached the quarter-finals in Brisbane and the final 16 of the Sydney Invitational. Kontaveit enjoyed a breakthrough campaign last year, which included a run to the final of the Wuhan Open. She also showed her growing mettle on the Grand Slam stage with fourth-round showings at both the Aussie and French Opens. The clay really brought out the best in her, with a sensational run to the semi-final of the prestigious Rome event. Kontaveit does possess one WTA title as well as 11 ITF crowns. The 23-year-old will be looking to better that fourth-round showing from last year and she will be meeting a very familiar foe next.

Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich beat Kirsten Flipkens in rather more imposing fashion than many expected. She started the season in excellent fashion, reaching the semi-finals in Sydney. That included an excellent victory over the upwardly mobile Daria Kasatkina. She also beat an upper echelon opponent in Sydney: she accounted for Elina Svitolina in the early stages. She enjoyed an up and down campaign last year, with the highlight undoubtedly being that final she reached in Brisbane to start the year. A semi-final in Moscow was accompanied by a decent Round of 16 showing at SW19. Sasnovich will fancy her chances on a surface the she has won seven ITF Titles on.

As I alluded earlier, these two are certainly not strangers to each other. Kontaveit leads their head-to-head 4-3. Having said that, Sasnovich has won two of their last three encounters. Kontaveit won last time out at the Madrid Masters. That was clearly on her preferred surface of clay. I think Sasnovich actually has the current form and potentially has a better game for this surface. Sasnovich to win at 8/10. 

Sloane Stephens 2/13 | Timea Babos 15/4
The nominal American successor to Serena Williams’ crown, Sloane Stephens eased past compatriot Townsend in the opening round and is hoping to continue her recent Grand Slam consistency. She would have felt nervous following an erratic start to the year. Stephens had a rollercoaster 2018 that included some tremendous high points. The 2017 US Open Champion won her first Premier Mandatory event last year in Miami. The 2013 Aussie Open semi-finalist also reached the French Open final last year. She is an all-court specialist, having reached the quarter-finals or better of every single Grand Slam. She will feel quietly confident of serenely progressing to the next round.

Timea Babos easily won her opening match but will know the magnitude of the task awaiting her here. Babos is something of a double’s specialist, with 17 Double’s titles to her name. But her singles form went through a mini-renaissance last season, with the Taiwan Open title indicative of her improvement. More significantly she lost to Garbine Muguruza in the Monterrey Open Final. Babos should also feel fairly confident in this arena. She claimed her maiden Grand Slam Doubles title here last season. Babos hasn’t exactly set the world alight thus far this year, losing in opening round matches at both the Auckland and Hobart events.

This will only be the second time that these two have met, with Stephens unsurprisingly holding the advantage 1-0. In reality, I don’t see any chance of Babos usurping the mighty Stephens. The only real value here to me lies in a Stephens straight-sets victory at 5/10. 

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.net

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