Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Melbourne day 4: Doubtful Sloane

Upset of the previous day:

Casey Dellacqua def. Kirsten Flipkens 6-3 6-0

After her dominant win over Laura Robson, one would have thought that Flipkens had settled into nice groove. However, the Belgian literally melted in the Australian heat to hand the match over to Casey. Credit to the Aussie though for playing well above her ranking suggests. With this win, Dellacqua makes her return to the top 100. As for Flipkens, she'd better start playing better because she has some huge points to defend in the coming months.

Schedule of play:

Match focus:

Karin Knapp vs. Maria Sharapova

Sharapova wasn't her best form against Bethanie Mattek-Sands, but it was enough to get her through to the second round. She faces an easier opponent now in Karin Knapp. The Italian does hit a heavy ball, but Sharapova likes to smack the spinny balls for winners. I believe the Russian is slowing playing herself to form, and it will show with this demolition job.

Pick: Sharapova in 2 easy sets

Barbora Zahlavova Strycova vs. Victoria Azarenka

Barbora was once named as "one to watch" as the top junior had promising results. However, somewhere along the way, she became the player that everyone hated with her brattish and spoilt attitude. Azarenka isn't a saint as well, but she will appear to be the polite one in front of the Czech terror. Victoria didn't play well in her first match, so she has something to prove that she's the real deal. I expect an improved performance from her as well, with a straightforward win.

Pick: Azarenka in 2 easy sets

Alize Cornet vs. Camila Giorgi

The problem with players like Giorgi is that you'll never know which player will appear. One day she can be a world beater, but the next she can be as bad as a club player. Cornet's steady game is likely to come out the victor, but an inspired run of games might make this match closer than expected. I still expect Alize to win though, as her confidence is boosted by her Hopman Cup win.

Pick: Cornet in 3 sets

Sloane Stephens vs. Ajla Tomljanovic

Sloane Stephens struggled mightily against Yaroslava Shvedova, where both players seemed to have lost their serves. If Stephens continues her errant ways, she will fall victim to the young Ajla Tomljanovic. The Croatian had her breakthrough last year in Miami, and had already beaten Hantuchova this year. It seems like she's making her way up the rankings. If the American underestimates her opponent, she might be the first top 20 player Ajla beats. Let's see if the Croatian has the mental game to finish the job, but I believe Sloane will still scrape through.

Pick: Stephens in 3 sets

Sure win bets: Agnieszka Radwanska, Garbine Muguruza, Carla Suarez Navarro, Elina Svitolina, Jelena Jankovic
Upset alert: None

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