Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: WTA Tour 2020: Australian Open (Round of 64)

WTA Tour 2020: Australian Open (Round of 64)

Tennis player holds racquet

The round of 64 continues at the Australian Open with Damien Kayat previewing the respective matchups between Petra Martic and Julia Gorges as well as 
Naomi Osaka and Zheng Saisai.

WTA Tour 2020 | Australian Open | Melbourne Park
Selected Round of 64 Matches - 22 January 2020

Petra Martic (9/10)
vs Julia Gorges (8/10)

There have been so many compelling narratives in the women’s game of late, it’s easy to miss ones as low-key as Martic’s. The Croatian had a fairly non-descript early career.  She was then subjected to a horror injury spell that saw her form plummet between 2012 and 2016. Her career looked likely to end after a severe back injury. But the Croatian has slowly started to evolve in recent years. 2019 was a productive year for the impressive Martic. She won her maiden WTA title at the Istanbul Open. She would follow that up with a WTA 125 at Zhengzhou. But it was her consistency that saw her storm up the WTA rankings. Semi-finals at the Charleston Open and Birmingham Open highlighted an all-court resurgence. Martic perhaps seemed most comfortable on clay, a fact accentuated by a quarterfinal showing at Roland Garros. She thrashed Christina McHale in the opening match and will face another sturdy veteran in the 2nd round.

31-year-old German Julia Gorges has been a regular fixture in the world’s top 20 for the last five years. Her power hitting has made her a formidable opponent on harder surfaces. But 2019 proved to be a slightly trying year for Gorges. The seven-time WTA champion really underlined her hardcourt capacity with a victory in the 2017 WTA Elite Trophy. 2018 was similarly solid.  And 2019 started extremely well, her 2nd consecutive Auckland title seeming to set up a stellar campaign. Further finals in Luxembourg and Birmingham proved to be the exceptions that proved the rule. She seemed jaded, perhaps a victim of the drive to accumulate as many rankings points as possible. She thrashed the dangerous Kuzmova in her opening match, leading me to believe that Gorges is ready for a more consistent 2020.

This will be their third-ever career meeting, with Gorges leading the head-to-head 2-0. They last met at the Silicon Valley Classic last year, with Gorges winning in straight sets. Gorges is a wily campaigner with three fourth-round appearances at Melbourne Park. Despite current form, I think that Gorges is the logical choice here. Her proven hardcourt pedigree should see her through to victory. 

Naomi Osaka (1/7) 
vs Zheng Saisai (4/1)
2019 was a fascinating year for Naomi Osaka. It started with glory in Australia, with the Japanese superstar claiming her 2nd consecutive Grand Slam title. It almost felt like her first true victory, with the 2018 US Open title remembered primarily for Serena’s epic meltdown. But Osaka’s season went into a proper mid-season malaise, with a controversial split from coach Sascha Bajin adding to the sense of instability. The rise of the likes of Bianca Andreescu and Ashleigh Barty threatened to derail the Naomi Osaka fairy-tale. But the aggressive Osaka fought back admirably in the latter part of the season, claiming back-to-back titles in Japan and China. She has shown decent early signs this year, reaching the semi-final in Brisbane. Osaka will be desperate to show that it is she who deserves to usurp Serena Williams as the preeminent player in women’s tennis. 

25-year-old Zheng Saisai is just the sort of player who could capitalize on any early tournament distraction on Osaka’s part.  She is a percentage player who will attempt to use Osaka’s blistering power against her. She has really enjoyed much more success on the double’s circuit: she actually claimed the French Open title last year. But she did pick up some encouraging results in the singles department last year. She won her maiden WTA title at the Silicon Valley Classic. But perhaps more impressive was her showing at the hugely competitive WTA Elite Trophy. She defied expectations en route to a semi-final berth. Clearly, the Chinese player will be entering this as a monumental underdog. But Osaka has shown a penchant for collapse when victory seemed inevitable. 

This will be their second ever encounter. The first came way back in 2016, with Osaka winning during the Madrid Open qualification stage. So there’s not too much to go on. Osaka should have far too much power for her Chinese opponent.  Having said that, there may be some reasonable value in backing the three-set Osaka win at 3/1. Osaka has the ability to be overly wild in seemingly routine fixtures and may drop a set through over-confidence.  

Written by Damien Kayat for Hollywoodbets.

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