We take a look at the Australian Open second-round matches between Iga Swiatek and Camila Giorgi as well as Aryna Sabalenka against Daria Kasatkina.
Australian Open 2021
Selected Second Round Matches
Iga Swiatek (15) (23/100) vs Camila Giorgi (3/1)
Iga Swiatek was the talk of the town on last year’s WTA Tour. It certainly took something for this teenager to steal the spotlight from the other teenager: Coco Gauff. But that unreal French Open run defied any expectations. Not only did she become the first Polish Grand Slam champion, it was just an incredible performance. She never dropped a set in the event and her winners count always exceeded her unforced errors. Her all-court play has made her a firm fan favourite already. She was actually voted the 2020 WTA Fans Favourite Player of the Year. She uses her doubles experience to come in to the net more than most on tour. Let’s see how much of an impression she can make this year. She already has some positive juju in this event: she reached the 4th round here last year. The rest of her 2020 campaign was fairly mundane outside of the Slams. She was fair in Melbourne last week but looked back to her best with an opening round demolition of Rus. Let’s see if she can shake off the Ostapenko-effect and make another significant Grand Slam contribution.
This match should be great entertainment. 29-year-old Camila Giorgi is one of the hardest hitters on the WTA Tour. She will know that her power will be key to combat the all-court efficiency of Swiatek. The Italian is really an enigmatic character. She has the ability to beat anyone on her day (just ask the likes of Wozniacki, Sharapova and Azarenka). But her go-for-broke approach sometimes backfires. The former top 30 player is coming off a seriously underwhelming 2020: remember this was the woman who reached the 2019 CITI Open. A semi-final at Palermo was the best that she could muster last year. But Giorgi, a former Sydney semi-finalist, will always face a puncher’s chance. She reminds me in that sense of Coco Vandeweghe. This could be an interesting contrast in styles, with the Italian eager to keep the points as brisk as possible. She made quick work of Shvedova in the opening round, scuppering the Russian’s comeback.
This will be the 2nd meeting between the two. Giorgi absolutely demolished a then-17 Swiatek at this very event in 2019. But clearly things have changed. While Swiatek is the clear favourite, I really think there’s value in going for the Italian. And I’m not just referring to that lone match in 2019. Giorgi is a dangerously inconsistent player who can make a punter some money in the early rounds.
Aryna Sabalenka (7) (2/7) vs Daria Kasatkina (26/10)
Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka is one of the hottest players currently plying her trade in the game. She has won three of her last four events. She won the Ostrava Open in October, followed by the Linz Open in November. She then started 2021 in similar fashion, winning the Abu Dhabi title. She may have failed at last week’s Gippsland Trophy, breaking her 15-match winning streak. But she bounced back with a rollicking first round win over Viktoria Kuzmova. Sabalenka is 16-1 in her last 17 matches. Furthermore, she has won in straight sets in 11 of her last 14 encounters. Sabalenka is power personified and will take some beating this week. Her opponent, Daria Kasatkina, is an opposite vein of form to her opponent.
As 2018 drew to an end, Daria Kasatkina looked poised to take Maria Sharapova’s place as the preeminent Russian women’s player. She reached the final at Indian Wells and two further Grand Slam quarterfinals. She also won the Kremlin Cup. But things have drastically imploded for the Russian over the past two years. It almost seems that her more crafty style has been usurped by the power-hitters. The likes of Sabalenka, Barty and Osaka have pushed the game into fairly brutal territory. Kasatkina thrashed Boutler in her first match but will need to drastically improve heading into this game.
This will be their third meeting. Kasatkina won in Beijing in 2019 while Sabalenka won in straight sets at last year’s French Open. Sabalenka is just at another level now. As I noted earlier, she has won 11 of her last 14 matches in straight sets. To put that in perspective, Kasatkina’s last seven defeats have all been straight-set losses. After she goes a set down I detect little fight. Sabalenka to win in straight sets at 72/100.