Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: WTA Tour 2020: Australian Open (Round of 32)

WTA Tour 2020: Australian Open (Round of 32)

Tennis player holds racquet

Damien Kayat previews the round of 32 at the Australian Open with the respective matchups between Elina Svitolina and Garbine Muguruza as well as 
Belinda Bencic and Anett Kontaveit.

WTA Tour 2020 | Australian Open | Melbourne Park
Selected Round of 32 Matches - 25 January 2020

Elina Svitolina (13/20) 
Garbine Muguruza (11/10)
Ukrainian Svitolina enjoyed a hyper consistent 2019 campaign. She was perhaps overshadowed by the likes of Ashleigh Barty and Bianca Andreescu, who picked up maiden victories that captured the imagination. Svitolina enjoyed a slew of semi-final finishes in premium events. Semi-finals in Qatar and Dubai were followed by a semi-final at Indian Wells. But it was her Grand Slam form that really propelled her 2019 season. A quarterfinal in this event was followed by semi-final showings at both Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows. She then had another excellent WTA Finals, following her victorious 2018 run with another final appearance. The hardcourt specialist lost her opening round match in Brisbane but has increased the tempo here in Melbourne. She has opened proceedings with back-to-back straight-sets victories.  She actually won close to 50% of her return points against Lauren Davis. 

Svitolina will face a dangerous 3rd round opponent in former World Number One Garbine Muguruza. Muguruza had an unconventional off-season following a 2019 beset by injury issues and loss of form. She climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, opting for a slightly different physical and mental test.  It seemed to have paid dividends already, with a season-opening semi-final run at the Shenzhen Open. She overcame talented Aussie Alja Tomljanovic in the 2nd round, perhaps indicating that the Spaniard is back to somewhere approaching her best. As noted earlier, Muguruza struggled through most of 2019. She won the Monterrey Open courtesy of an Azarenka retirement. But back-to-back opening round defeats at Wimbledon and the US Open prompted a coaching reshuffle in the Muguruza camp. The 26-year-old is a proven champion with titles at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. But she has yet to progress past the quarterfinal stage here in Melbourne, despite a reputation for being a sound all-court player.

These are two players with loads of head-to-head experience.  This will actually be the 11th meeting between these two stars.  Svitolina narrowly edged their rivalry 6-4. But she actually dominates the hardcourt stats at 6-1. Svitolina would appear to be the obvious choice looking at form over the last 12 months. But I just have a creeping suspicion that Grand Slam specialist Muguruza might emerge victorious from this match, underlining her comeback status.  

Belinda Bencic (7/10) 
vs Anett Kontaveit (1/1)
Swiss Hopman Cup hero Belinda Bencic is yet another female player who has exploded in recent seasons. The crafty player is often compared to idol Martina Hingis- perhaps exacerbated by the fact that she has been coached by Hingis’ mother.  Titles in Dubai and Russia last year only tell part of the Bencic story.  She reached semi-finals in premier events such as Madrid and Indian Wells. But perhaps her most important result was a semi-final run at Flushing Meadows, which proved to the world that she was ready to go toe-to-toe with the world’s best in the premier competition. She eased past both Jelena Ostapenko and Schmiedlova in merciless fashion.  Bencic looks set to make another concerted push for Grand Slam success.  

24-year-old Anett Kontaveit is the shining light of Estonian tennis and has become a far more consistent player over the past two seasons. The runner-up in the 2018 Wuhan Open enjoyed a slightly top-heavy 2019. She reached the Stuttgart final but perhaps more importantly reached the semi-finals in Miami. Back-to-back 3rd round finishes at Wimbledon and the US Open will have no doubt left her frustrated. She will be aiming to go at least one better this week. She had to dig deep to overcome Sorribes Tormo in the 2nd round. The interesting thing about this encounter is how similar the two players are. Both tend to favour court-craft over raw power, which should make for an excellent advertisement for the game.

I was fairly surprised to discover that this will be the first time these two have ever met. Considering their similarities in style, a lack of historical evidence makes this one even harder to call. But Bencic seems the only logical option at 7/10. She was one of the form players in 2019 and Kontaveit had her late-season struggles.    

Written by Damien Kayat for Hollywoodbets.

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