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PREVIEW: 2022 Australian Open selected women’s 3rd round matches

Iga Swiatek plays Daria Kasatkina, Aryna Sabalenka faces off against Marketa Vondrousova and Danielle Collins squares up against Clara Tauson in the 3rd round of the Australian Open. Damien Kayat previews.

Daria Kasatkina - Australian Open

Iga Swiatek plays Daria Kasatkina, Aryna Sabalenka faces off against Marketa Vondrousova and Danielle Collins squares up against Clara Tauson in the 3rd round of the Australian Open. Damien Kayat previews.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

2022 WTA Tour
Grand Slam Tennis
Australian Open
Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia
Selected 3rd Round Matches- 22nd January

Iga Swiatek 34/100 | Daria Kasatkina 43/20

Iga Swiatek survived a fairly typical day of tumult in the woman’s draw. Garbine Muguruza and Anett Kontaveit- the two finalists from last year’s WTA Finals- were both eliminated in a dramatic Thursday.

Iga Swiatek held up the integrity of the draw with a commanding victory over Rebecca Peterson. That followed an equally one-sided first-round victory against Harriet Dart.

The polish dynamo has dropped just seven games in her opening two matches. The 2020 French Open champion reached the WTA Finals for the first time in 2021, showcasing her abilities on all surfaces.

She just reached the semi-finals in Adelaide (only to run into the one-woman wrecking ball that is Ashleigh Barty). Swiatek is about as reliable a pick remaining in this tournament outside of Barty. The all-action Pole should get maximum value for her shots on these slick surfaces.

Daria Kasatkina has been every bit as devastating as Iga Swiatek in her opening matches, dropping just nine games in the tournament thus far. She won 85% of her first serve points in her second-round match against Magda Linette.

She finished that match with an encouraging winners-unforced errors ratio of 22-16. Kasatkina enjoyed a renaissance in 2021, winning two titles and reaching four finals throughout the year.

She seems to have carried that momentum into 2022, reaching back-to-back semi-finals in Aussie Open precursor events. The Russian is a crafty player who is able to adapt her game to different conditions.

She isn’t as reliant on blistering power as Swiatek. She will attempt to frustrate Swiatek into making careless unforced errors.

Verdict: Swiatek to win in three sets at 29/10

Kasatkina beat Swiatek in their only encounter at last year’s Eastbourne International. I think this could be an enthralling encounter between two in-form players. I give Swiatek the edge due to her greater baseline power. But I expect this to go to three sets.

Aryna Sabalenka 13/10 | Marketa Vondrousova 59/100

World Number two Aryna Sabalenka emerged as a true Grand Slam contender last year. reaching the semi-finals of the last two slams. But you couldn’t tell from the way she has started 2002.

She lost her first two consecutive first-round matches leading into the Aussie Open. She has also found it tough going at Melbourne Park, having to come from a set down to win both her matches.

Sure, you can say these have been character-building exercises for the Belarusian. But she hasn’t really justified her ranking thus far. She needs to cut down on silly double faults. If she can sort out her issues on serve, she can start dictating the flow of matches.

By contrast, 2019 French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova has looked fairly comfortable in Melbourne this week. The mercurial Czech actually ended 2021 in pretty strong fashion, reaching three semi-finals after the US Open.

This was the perfect way to follow a remarkable silver-medal run at the Olympic Games. Vondorousova doesn’t possess anywhere near the same power as Sabalenka. She utilizes a variety of slices and cute drop shots to disrupt her opponents.

Theoretically, she should be a huge problem for Sabalenka at this point in time. Sabalenka is battling massively on serve at present. Vondrousova is one of the best returners in the game.

In 2019, she led the WTA Tour in first serve points won on return.

Verdict: Sabalenka to win in straight sets at 26/10

Sabalenka and Vondrousova share the head-to-head spoils 2-2. However, Sabalenka absolutely thrashed the Czech at last year’s Miami Open. I genuinely think that this will be the match where everything clicks for Sabalenka. She will feel more confident now having avoided a really embarrassing early exit. If she gets the first-serve percentage up then it should be curtains for Vondrousova.

Danielle Collins 71/100 | Clara Tauson 11/10

Danielle Collins will be hoping she can emulate her breakthrough 2019 run at the Aussie Open. The American defied expectations with a sensational semi-final run. She hasn’t managed to recapture that Melbourne magic since, being eliminated in the 2nd round in each of the last two years.

Collins endured a trying 2021 campaign, having to undergo emergency surgery for endometriosis in April. But she bounced back to win back-to-back titles towards the latter part of the season.

She came into this event severely undercooked (she last played in November’s Linz Open). But it’s hardly seemed to phase her (Collins has won both of her matches, dropping just eleven games in the process).

19-year-old Clara Tauson has been on a meteoric rise over the past two years. The Dane has risen from the basement of the world rankings to a current career-high of 39.

She enjoyed a banner 2021, winning two WTA titles and two ITF finals. But it was her 2nd round demolition of red-hot Anett Kontaveit that has really set the cat amongst the pigeons.

She put on a clinic in that match, hitting 20 winners and committing just 13 unforced errors. Tauson will look to join the likes of Gauff and Radacanu and become a bona fide teenage star.

Verdict: Collins to win in straight sets at 31/20

Collins comfortably won their only previous encounter at the 2020 French Open. It’s always hard for teenage starlets to string together back-to-back upset victories (although don’t tell Radacanu and Fernandez that). I just feel that Collins will dominate this match on her serve. She looks fresh and completely injury-free.

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