Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: WTA Tour 2020: Brisbane International Preview

WTA Tour 2020: Brisbane International Preview

Tennis player holds racquet

The round of 16 gets underway at the Brisbane International with Damien Kayat previewing the respective matchups between Barbora Strycova and Alison Riske as well as 
Karoline Plisokva and Alja Tomljanovic. 

WTA Tour 2020 | WTA Premier
Brisbane International | Queensland Tennis Centre
Wed-Thur 8/9 January 2020 | Selected Round of 16 Matches

Barbora Strycova (23/20)
vs Alison Riske (13/20)

This is set to be a fairly emotional week against the backdrop of Australia’s current wildfire epidemic. 33-year-old veteran Barbora Strycova is coming off an extremely successful 2019 campaign. Her most striking success came on the double’s circuit, where she notched up a Wimbledon title and reached the WTA Finals. But she also enjoyed a fairly healthy mid-season charge on the single’s circuit. Strycova reached four semi-finals in quick succession, culminating in a glorious run to the final four of SW19. Strycova is an arch-competitor with four WTA singles finals coming on hardcourts. Her last hardcourt title came with victory at the 2017 Linz Open. She overcame British Grand Slam hopeful Johanna Konta in a gutsy first round victory: she actually extended her head-to-head record over Konta to 3-0. Strycova is a pugnacious competitor who has managed to carve out her own niche in the game despite an abundance of talent in Czech female tennis. 

Another relative veteran in the sport, 29-year-old American Alison Riske had an extremely schizophrenic season on last year. Much of the season saw her wading in the quagmire of mediocrity, while the likes of Coco Gauff rose to prominence in the American game. But there were isolated pockets of excellence from Riske. She beat the odds to capture the Rosmalen title. She then backed that up with an excellent run to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. So it would seem that her and Strycova would be perfectly suited to a grass-court encounter. But it was perhaps her performance in the Wuhan Open that could prove most ominous for this event. She reached the final towards the end of last season but picked up some fairly impressive scalps en route. She beat both Petra Kvitova and Svitolina on those hardcourts. This will be far from an exhibition match for Strycova. 

This will be their third-ever meeting, with the Czech holding the edge at 2-0. Their last meeting came all the back at the 2017 US Open. I think there may be some value in backing the American, especially when you look at her performances at the Wuhan Open.  

Karoline Plisokva (2/9)
vs Alja Tomljanovic (29/10)

From a plucky Czech to one of the premier Czech superstars in the game: Karolina Pliskova. The 2nd seed rally needs little preamble. The 15-time WTA Title winner is a hard-court aficionado who has proven herself time and time again. She had a solid 2019 without quite following through on the biggest stages. She won titles in Rome, Eastbourne and indeed Brisbane. She is something of a specialist in this event, previously capturing the title in 2017 and reaching the semi-finals in 2018. She had a brilliant Australasian swing last year, going on to reach the semi-finals at the Aussie Open. Pliskova now needs to take that next step towards Grand Slam victory. The 2016 US Open finalist dominates these types of events and will go into this as the overwhelming favourite. 

26-year-old Croatian-born Alja Tomljanovic has taken an intriguing path towards Aussie citizenship. At the 2014 US Open she was made legible to represent Australia at international level. But she still had to represent Croatia in all other WTA events for the next four years. Rather bizarre. In any event, the Aussie generally endured a fairly tepid 2019 campaign. She had a brief positive spell mid-year, with an appearance in the final of the Hua Hin Championship followed by a semi-final in Morocco. But her year fizzled out as it went along. Having said that, a semi-final at the Zhengzhou Open did display her abilities on harder courts. Tomljanovic has four WTA Final appearances to her name, three of which came on hard-courts. But she will know more than anyone the magnitude of the challenge at hand. 

Karoline Pliskova holds an imperious record against Alja Tomljanovic. She leads their head-to-head 4-0. That includes two victories last season. They actually met in the quarter-final of last year’s Brisbane International, which Pliskova won in a tight three-set encounter. Perhaps the best value here is to back Pliskova in three at 26/10. Tomljanovic may be able to repeat her performance from last year and pick up a set.  

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