Australian Open 2020 – a preview

Australian Open 2020 – a preview

 

Men’s:

This is set to be the most open men’s Grand Slam since the pre-Big 3 era. A new wave of young players have made strides over the last 12 months proving themselves as genuine contenders. This growing collective led by Tsitsipas, Medvedev and Thiem have been gradually chipping away at the perceived invincibility of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal. It’s now a question of whether they can kick on and capture Slam titles from the ageing grip of the greatest trio to ever play the sport. Also emerging is a wider array of talent lurking in the early rounds. The likes of Hurkacz, Shapovalov, Sinner and Rublev are at least dangerous enough to cause anyone trouble.

 

1st round highlights:

Lopez vs Bautista Agut (Monday):

One loves a net charge, the other loves a target so this all-Spanish affair should be fun. RBA was exceptional in the ATP Cup, particularly impressing during his comfortable win over Kyrgios. Expect the higher ranked, younger Spaniard to prevail.

Edmund vs Lajovic (Monday):

Kedders made the SF here in 2018 so has fond memories of Melbourne Park. He’s backed up a decent end to 2019 with a couple of wins in Auckland to get him started this season. Dusan Lajovic was on fire helping Serbia win the inaugural ATP Cup. He declared the win vs Khachanov one of his greatest matches and will be looking to reinforce that cash and ranking points injection by improving on his best ever AO finish (round 2).

 

Further along the track:

Potential crackers lined up for rounds 2 and 3 could include Shapovalov vs Sinner, Hurkacz vs Humbert, Monfils vs Felix Auger-Aliassime and Rublev vs Goffin. The real blockbuster could come in the 4th round between, not exactly best-buddies, Nadal and Kyrgios. If Kyrgios brings the improved attitude he displayed in the ATP Cup then we fancy this spicy match-up to happen. 

 

Dark horse?

While the Australian Open is the one Slam where Matteo Berrettini is yet to post a main draw win, there’s no shame in falling to Tsitsipas in a tight 4-setter as he did 12 months ago. This time round, thanks to a no.8 seeding, Berrettini will avoid any such big-guns until at least the QF stage. We’ll be keeping an eye on his progress – a deep run wouldn’t be too surprising. 

 

 

Women’s:

Will Serena ever manage that record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title? Many youngsters are rapidly coming up through the ranks so you’d think there aren’t too many chances left. 2018 champ Caroline Wozniacki announced she’ll be retiring immediately following this year’s tournament. Caro should make it past round 1 opponent Kristie Ahn, but big-hitting Dayana Yastremska will likely be waiting in round 2 so the end might come sooner rather than later. Barty and Osaka are most fancied to challenge Serena for the title.

 

1st round highlights:

V.Williams vs Gauff (Monday):

It’s hard to guess whether Venus groaned or grinned when this was drawn – maybe she’ll fancy some revenge on Coco, who famously beat the 7-time Grand Slam champion in their 1st round Wimbledon encounter last year. Gauff has continued to impress, already winning her 1st WTA title (Linz), and she’s still just 15 years of age.

Vekic vs Sharapova (Tuesday):

Vekic appears to be becoming the top performer she was tipped to be in the junior ranks. Sharapova certainly could’ve done with an easier draw – lacking recent match practice it’ll be interesting to see how Maria goes – fears are she may be a shadow of her former self. 

 

Further along the track:

If ever there was a clash of styles then the potential round 2 match-up of Danielle Collins vs Su Wei Hsieh is it. Hsieh will bring slice, variety and angles while Collins will hit hard and harder still. Expect plenty of OTT “come on”s from the American.

Serena’s first real test may well come against Yastremska (if they both make it to the 4th round). The 7-time AO champ who’s movement understandably isn’t quite what it used to be may well struggle to deal with Yastremska’s fast and powerful hitting, that is if the young Ukrainian hits her top level. 

 

Punts:

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is in decent form and looks long at 250/1. Her quarter of the draw includes Svitolina, Kerber, Muguruza, Vondrousova and Bertens who’d ordinarily be contenders but varying doubts linger for all. Yastremska and Collins, both currently 40/1, clearly pose a more realistic threat – their outright prices have come in significantly since the turn of the year.

Find pre-match and in-play odds for all singles matches throughout the Aus Open at jabet.com.

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