Australian Open: Day 3 Picks
Originally published on 16/01/18 00:00
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (15) v Denis Shapovalov
This is undoubtedly the standout tie of the day.
The pair met at the same stage of the US Open in September, and it was the gallus youngster who prevailed in convincing fashion.
Shapovalov netted his first win ever win at the Australian Open on Monday by easing past fellow NextGen prospect, Stefanos Tsitsipas. It was another significant moment in the blossoming career of the Canadian, and he will relish the chance to perform on Margaret Court Arena.
Tsonga, who reached the last eight in Melbourne last year, commenced his campaign with a thumping 6-4 6-4 6-1 success over Kevin King. He has struggled to maintain optimum fitness in recent times, but can never be discounted.
A pulsating scrap between two of the more watchable players in the draw is anticipated.
Prediction: Tsonga in four
Andrey Rublev (30) v Marcos Baghdatis
It would not be the Australian Open if Baghdatis were not involved in an exciting contest. The charismatic Cypriot, who is always roared on by vociferous supporters, will test his skills against the Russian shotmaker.
It’s been 12 years since Baghdatis reached the final in Melbourne, and his time at the top is coming to an end. The 32-year-old is ranked outside the Top 100 and he has slipped off the radar as a result, but he remains fun to watch when firing on all cylinders.
Rublev edged a tricky first round clash with David Ferrer in five energy-sapping sets, and he will look for a more straightforward route past the Cypriot.
With hot temperatures expected, the Russian will be keen to avoid another physical duel, and the first set will be of huge importance. With a win, the 20-year-old will reach the third round for the first time.
Prediction: Rublev in four
Elina Svitolina (4) v Katerina Siniakova
At the US Open in September, Svitolina encountered Siniakova in the first round and progressed after a three-set battle.
The Ukrainian’s baseline consistency proved to be key on that occasion, and it would not be a surprise if a pragmatic approach helps her again.
Svitolina is amongst the trophy contenders and her title-winning run in Brisbane at the start of the month did little to dampen expectations. She is confident and fit, and will expect to negotiate her second round match without significant drama.
Siniakova squeezed into the round of 64 after a 6-2 6-7(5) 4-6 win over Maria Sakkari. It’s just the second time the Czech has reached this stage at the first Grand Slam of the year – and she will need to produce a near-perfect performance to get the better of the Ukrainian.
Julia Goerges (12) v Alize Cornet
The women’s event, as was the case last year, is wide open.
There are a number of contenders for the title, and Goerges has definitely emerged as a potential champion. The German is on an extradorinary run of form and she has won her last 15 matches – stretching back to October.
The 29-year-old, in the form of her life, is expected to breeze through the early stages and she has made a bright start to the tournament. She soared past Sofia Kenin and will expect to maintain her 100% record against Alize Cornet.
It’s never dull when the temperamental Frenchwoman is around, and she has started 2018 well. The 27-year-old reached the quarter-finals of the Brisbane International and dismissed Wang Qiang in he first round on Monday for the loss of just four games.
Can Cornet halt the German juggernaut? Probably not, but she could keep it close.
Prediction: Goerges in three