Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: Australian Open 2021 - Selected Quarter-finals (Women)

Australian Open 2021 - Selected Quarter-finals (Women)

We take a look at the Australian Open quarter-final matches between Ashleigh Barty and Karolina Muchova as well as Jessica Pegula against Jennifer Brady.

Photo Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Australian Open 2021
17 February 2021
Melbourne Park
Selected Quarter-finals - 17 February 2021

Ashleigh Barty (1) (21/100) vs Karolina Muchova (33/10)
Can anyone stop the one-woman wrecking ball that is Ashleigh Barty.  Riding a wave of local adulation, the World Number One has simply dominated this event.  She is yet to drop a set and has only been in one tiebreak.  She is also currently 9-0 for the year following her triumph in the Aussie Open curtain-raiser.  Many- myself included- thought that perhaps Barty had missed a step by remaining overly cautious in the post-lockdown space (prior to the Yarra Valley Classic she hadn’t played since February last year).  But it seems as if her extended break has done little to halt her stunning momentum.  Barty reached the semi-final last year, only to lose to eventual champion Sofia Kenin.  The beauty of the draw is that she will not have to play a top 10 player until potentially the final.  The usual pyrotechnic upsets in the women’s draw seem to be working in her favour this year.  She has only dropped a grand total of 20 games thus far, despite nursing a slight thigh strain.

Now this has been one of the major Cinderella stories thus far.  Karolina Muchova has always been a powerful competitor.  But she always struck me as someone with a cap, a player who would struggle to find consistent Grand Slam form.  Her breakthrough quarterfinal run at Wimbledon in 2019 may have been a one-off.  But I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised when you look at her 4th round run at Flushing Meadows last year (albeit in a slightly diminished field).  Muchova has looked immense this week, yet to drop a set despite a tricky draw.  She has beaten two absolute demons thus far in Karolina Pliskova and Elise Mertens.  In actual fact, she- like Barty- is technically unbeaten this year.  She pulled out of both the Abu Dhabi Open and Aussie Open precursor.  Can she possibly make it three giants in a row?  She will need to engage with Barty and work her movement.  Perhaps some aggravation to the thigh will help the Czech surprise package.

This will only be their 2nd ever career meeting.  Their only other match came at Grand Slam level, with Barty prevailing comfortably at the 2018 US Open.  It’s easy to dismiss Muchova’s chances.  But I don’t think you can take those last two performances for granted, especially the Mertens results.  Furthermore, Barty may be starting to feel the pinch of hometown pressure.  There may be some value in Barty to win in three at 29/10.

Jessica Pegula  (19/10) vs Jennifer Brady (22) (4/10)
America just keeps churning out these Grand Slam contenders.  25-year-old Jennifer Brady has been one of the most consistent players on tour since the resumption of tennis last year.  She won her first WTA title at the Top Seed Open.  She then followed that up with a heroic semi-final run at Flushing Meadows: she would ultimately go down to eventual champ Naomi Osaka.  She finished the season with a semi-final at the Ostrava Open.  That has only continued in 2021.  She reached the semi-final of the Grampians Trophy just prior to the Aussie Open.  But perhaps most striking has been her form in this event.  She is yet to drop a set.  Moreover, she has almost overwhelmed players in the first set of matches.  She has won the first set of every match 6-1.  That’s pretty hardcore.  Brady has natural BMT and will be relaxed going into this quarter-final.

Much like the Russians in the men’s draw, the United States have managed to get three players in the quarterfinals this year.  Jessica Pegula is practically of an age with Brady and knows her compatriot very well: they have practiced together on many occasions.  The ‘friends’ angle always adds a certain gravitas to these occasions.  Pegula has really come out of nowhere this year.  Yes, she won the Washington Open in 2019.  But she hasn’t really kicked on since then.  A final at last year’s Auckland Open may have offered some indication of this form.  But she has come through a horror draw with flying colours.  Her first match saw her upset former Aussie Open champ Victoria Azarenka.  She then had to contend with hometown favourite Sam Stosur.  But her most significant victory was clearly the Svitolina revenge match: she lost to Svitolina in her opening match of the season in Abu Dhabi.  Knocking out the world number 5 has sent some shockwaves throughout punditry, with many wondering whether Pegula could be the dark horse this week.

Pegula actually leads the head-to-head 1-0, with a victory at last year’s Western and Southern Open.  Pegula and Brady know each other’s games intimately, which always gives the underdog a bigger chance.  I’m fancying a shock result here, despite Brady’s brilliance.

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