Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: WTA Tour 2020: Australian Open Quarterfinals Preview

WTA Tour 2020: Australian Open Quarterfinals Preview

Tennis player holds racquet

Damien Kayat previews the Australian Open quarterfinals with respective matchups between Anett Kontaveit and Simona Halep as well as Garbine Muguruza and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

WTA Tour 2020 | Australian Open | Melbourne Park
Quarterfinals - 29 January 2020

Anett Kontaveit (7/4) 
vs Simona Halep (4/10) 

Flying the flag for Estonia, Anett Kontaveit has reached her first-ever Grand Slam quarterfinal. The talented Estonian has shown flashes of brilliance over the last few years.  She reached the final in Wuhan in 2018 and had a solid semi-final showing in Miami last year. She has had to battle several health issues, with glandular fever potentially threatening her career at one point. Last year, she picked up consistency. Other than the semi-final in Miami she reached the final in Stuttgart. Back-to-back third-round finishes at Wimbledon and the US Open showed a growing appreciation for Grand Slam competition. But an abscess brought her 2019 to a sharp end following Flushing Meadows. Kontaveit was in blistering form to dispose of 6th seed Belinda Bencic. She found the relatively unknown Swiatek a lot tougher. She returned well but was regularly broken on her own serve. She will need to remedy that against a returner as consistent as Simona Halep.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep will be licking her lips at how open the draw is looking. Arch-nemesis Serena Williams is out, along with defending champion Naomi Osaka and the likes of Kerber and Pliskova. The women’s draw has been decimated, opening the way for Halep to avenge her 2018 defeat in the Final. Halep has looked sensational, yet to drop a set thus far. She overcame the hard-hitting Elise Mertens with a brilliant counterpunching performance that highlighted her all-court ability. Halep is a former World number one who solidified her status with that brilliant Wimbledon title last year. But she endured a post-Wimbledon hangover of note, only reaching one quarterfinal for the remainder of the year.

This will only be their third meeting, with Simona unsurprisingly leading the head-to-head 2-0. Those two victories came in 2017, at Rome and Miami. I think that Halep will ultimately prove too strong for Kontaveit. The Estonian service game is erratic and will be exposed by the Romanian.  Having said that, there may be value in the three-set Halep victory at 11/4. She has shown a tendency in the past to freeze on the biggest stage, and there may be a few nerves on display for the Estonian to exploit.  

Garbine Muguruza (5/10) 
vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (14/10)
I have had a feeling about Garbine Muguruza since the start of the tournament. The two-time Grand Slam Champion endured a torrid 2019 despite winning a fairly humdrum Monterrey Open. She was forced to take drastic action by rehiring Conchita Martinez. The former Wimbledon Champion seems to have once again brought out the best in the Spaniard.  Climbing Kilimanjaro perhaps also helped to give Muguruza some new-found perspective. She reached the semi-finals in Shenzhen before pulling out of Hobart with an illness.  She has been brilliant thus far in Melbourne, surviving one of the trickier draws out there. She had Aussie hopeful in the second round before back-to-back victories against Svitolina and Bertens. Muguruza will be looking to reach her first-ever Aussie Open semi-final.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is one of those players who has floated under the radar throughout her career. One wouldn’t have imagined that she had twelve WTA titles to her name. Furthermore, as a sign of her all-court abilities, she has reached the quarterfinals of every Grand Slam. Melbourne has proved to be her favourite Slam, with this being her third quarterfinal in the last four years. She has been an absolute giant killer this year, accounting for Karoline Pliskova and Angelique Kerber in the last two rounds. Pavlyuchenkova came into 2020 off the back of a solid end to 2019 where she made the final of the Pan Pacific Open and the final of the Kremlin Cup.

This will be their seventh meeting, with Muguruza dominating the head-to-head battle at 5-1. Furthermore, the only reason the Russian won that one match was due to retirement.  Muguruza has won all three of their hardcourt matches. Both of these ladies have picked some pretty impressive scalps thus far, making a slight mockery of this part of the draw. While I desperately want to tip the Russian at the price, I can’t see any other result other than a comfortable Muguruza victory.

Written by Damien Kayat for Hollywoodbets.

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