Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Australian Open Day 3: 2nd Round Predictions

Tomorrow's line-up for the Australian Open looks to be pretty lifeless for me, but lets take a look at the top matches of the day:

1. Sam Stosur v Zheng Jie
Zheng Jie
The most intriguing womens match will see Sam Stosur continue her Australian venture against Zheng Jie.  She won her first match with a solid straight sets win over Chang Kai-Chen, meanwhile Zheng struggled her way past fellow Chinese player Zhang Yuxuan, 6-1 3-6 6-4.  Neither player has started the season in great form, but the key fact to take away is that Zheng did beat Stosur in a tough three setter in the first round of Sydney last week.  Stosur appears to be getting better with each match and although I think the pressure of the Australian crowd is an issue, the fact she had surgery on her ankle in the off-season and is still recovering, is the telling factor.  This is a tough one to call, but I am going to give an edge to Zheng, who raises her game for the big matches on the big showcourts...

Prediction - Zheng to beat Stosur in 3 sets

2. Novak Djokovic v Ryan Harrison
Novak Djokovic started his Australian Open defence with a straight sets and straightforward win over Paul-Henri Mathieu.  He now takes on Ryan Harrison, who avenged an Olympic defeat to Santiago Giraldo in the first round, progressing in four sets.  Djokovic and Harrison last met at Wimbledon where the young American put in an admirable performance before falling in three tight sets.  Harrison has talent, but has yet to have that really great win to begin his journey up the rankings.  I expect a tight opening set, but it will be plain sailing from then for Djokovic.

Prediction - Djokovic to beat Harrison in 3 sets

3. Sam Querrey v Brian Baker
Klara Zakopalova
My final two picks from Wednesday's line-up both come from court 6; first up is an all-American affair between Sam Querrey and Brian Baker.  Querrey lost the opening set to Daniel Munoz-De La Nava in his first round match before easing through in 4 sets, meanwhile Baker had his hands full with former American, Alex Bogomolov Jr., which he edged in five sets.  Baker's form since a heroic 4th round appearance at Wimbledon has dipped, but he still remains a solid player on the tour.  I fancy Querrey to have a strong 2013 including a round of 16 showing here so I predict he will pull through after quite a battle with Baker...

Prediction - Querrey to beat Baker in 4 tight sets

4. Klara Zakopalova v Kirsten Flipkens
I have picked out my final womens match between two players who are flourishing in 2013.  Klara Zakopalova reached the final in Shenzhen in the first week of the season and started her Australian Open campaign with a very impressive rout of Chanelle Scheepers, 6-1 6-2.  Kirsten Flipkens made the quarter-finals in Auckland and semi-finals in Hobart, and has looked like a top 30 player since emerging back on the tour last June following numerous injuries.  She opened up with a straight sets win over Nina Bratchikova.  This will be a very tight match and although I think Zakopalova has shown the best form this year, I really like the way Flipkens plays and she has demonstrated some match toughness with all her wins stretching back into 2012... I say Flipkens edges it.

Prediction - Flipkens to beat Zakopalova in 3 tough sets

Best of the rest: women
Radwanska to beat Begu in 2 sets
V.Williams to beat Cornet in 2 sets
Li to beat Govortsova in 2 sets
Sharapova to beat Doi in 2 sets
Kerber to beat Hradecka in 2 tight sets
Goerges to beat Oprandi in 3 sets
Ivanovic to beat Chan in 2 tight sets
Cibulkova to beat Savinykh in 2 sets
Keys to beat Paszek in 2 sets *upset alert*

Best of the rest: men
Berdych to beat Rufin in 3 sets
Almagro to beat Gimeno-Traver in 3 sets
Ferrer to beat Smyczek in 3 sets
Malisse to beat Verdasco in 5 sets *upset alert*
Tipsarevic to beat Lacko in 3 tight sets
Nishikori to beat Berlocq in 3 sets
Stepanek to beat Lopez in 5 sets

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