Jelena Ostapenko faces Alison Riske, Belinda Bencic takes on Amanda Anisimova and Jessica Pegula plays against Bernarda Pera in the 2nd round of the Australian Open. Damien Kayat previews.
2022 WTA Tour
Grand Slam Tennis
Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia
Selected 2nd Round Matches- 19th January
Jelena Ostapenko 64/100 | Alison Riske 12/10
Mercurial former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko enjoyed something of a resurgence in 2021. The error-prone Latvian won her 4th title as a wildcard in Birmingham.
She followed that up with another final at the Linz Open and a brilliant semi-final run at Indian Wells. But you never know what you are going to get with the wildly unpredictable Ostapenko (it’s no coincidence that she has won four titles as a wildcard).
Ostapenko has a terrible record in this event, losing in the first round on three occasions in the last six years. She battled back to roar past Schmiedlova in the first round. But how long can that form last?
31-year-old journeywoman Alison Riske has also enjoyed some really encouraging recent form. She won her 4th WTA title at the Linz Open in November. She is also fresh off another final in Adelaide (she did benefit from two walkovers in the process).
But that form was no fluke, as evidenced by a comprehensive opening victory against the dangerous Donna Vekic. Riske also has some decent history in this event, reaching the 4th round in 2020.
She is a dangerous floater with victories against many top players. She has beaten the likes of Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka in her career.
Verdict: Riske to win at 12/10
Ostapenko won their only previous encounter at the 2019 US Open. I just think that Riske will feel buoyed by that brilliant won against Donna Vekic.
Belinda Bencic 58/100 | Amanda Anisimova 27/20
Former World Number 4 Belinda Bencic had a really mad 2021. She reached WTA 500 finals in Adelaide and Berlin. But she also endured lots of frustration, reaching five consecutive quarterfinals to end the year.
But on top of that she managed to win Olympic gold in Tokyo! I guess she managed to get it all together when it counted. She has also shown her prowess in Grand Slam tennis, reaching the US Open semi-final in 2019 prior to another quarterfinal run last year.
Bencic has looked solid this year, almost beating eventual champ Paula Badosa in the Sydney quarterfinal. She thrashed Mladenovic in her opening match but she has drawn a nightmare 2nd round opponent.
20-year-old American Amanda Anisimova burst onto the scene with an amazing semi-final run at the 2019 French Open. The hard-hitting blonde dynamo looked set to be at the vanguard of women’s tennis for years to come.
But injury and loss of form has relegated her to the sidelines in recent years. But the American has regained her relevance with a barnstorming victory at the season-opening Gippsland Trophy.
She is ideally suited to these surfaces and represents a real threat in this side of the draw.
Verdict: Bencic to win in three at 33/10
I know I chose Anisimova as my dark horse pick in this section of the draw. But I was really encouraged by Bencic’s performance against Badosa in Sydney. I think she should have enough to outlast the American in a highly physical dual.
Jessica Pegula 4/10 | Bernarda Pera 19/10
This should be a fascinating all-American 2nd round clash. World Number 21 Pegula had a real fright in her opening match, rallying from a set down to overcome a spirited Anhelina Kalinina.
Granted, Kalinina wasn’t the easiest first-round opponent. But 56 unforced errors makes for slightly disturbing reading for Pegula. She also hasn’t been in the greatest form, losing her first two matches of the calendar year.
But 2021 was a breakthrough season for Pegula, who broke into the top 20 and reached her maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal at last year’s Aussie Open.
By contrast, Bernarda Pera is fresh off a brilliant upset victory against World Number 40 Ekaterina Alexandrova. World Number 105 Bernarda Pera is an enigmatic talent who has never really fulfilled her potential on the tour.
But she does have a pretty decent habit of pulling off upset victories in this event. She beat 9th seed Johanna Konta at the 2018 Aussie Open before taking down former World Number one Angelique Kerber in last year’s edition.
Verdict: Pera to win at 19/10
This will be the first-ever career meeting between these two compatriots. I always think that increases the chances of an upset victory. And perhaps this could be a chance to find some value in these early rounds. Pera was exceptional against Alexandrova and Pegula has been looking a bit iffy this year.