The World No.1 and defending Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber prolonged her stay in this year’s Australian Open with an impressive win over Kristyna Pliskova in a third round two days ago. The German had struggled to come to terms with being a Grand Slam champion and she faced a considerable slump before she rediscovered her best tennis. Now Kerber has to deal with a different kind of pressure – defending a Grand Slam title. She has not played her best coming into Melbourne, with losses to Elina Svitolina in Brisbane and Daria Kasatkina in Sydney. She also fought through the tough challenges of Lesia Tsurenko and Carina Witthoeft in the early rounds here in Melbourne.
Coco Vandeweghe awaits in the fourth round for the World No.1. The biggest asset to Vandeweghe’s game other than her gigantic serve is really how she approaches the game. She is the sort of player that acts first and then thinks of the consequences later, which overall can be a very dangerous player to come up against at any stage in a Grand Slam.
Can the American put together a perfect match of power tennis to unlock the defences of Kerber? It is a tough ask as Kerber is one of the best at turning defence into attack from defensive positions in the Women’s game.
Prediction: Kerber in two sets.
Garbine Muguruza  vs Sorana Cirstea H2H: First meeting
Garbiñe Muguruza is another player that fluctuated in performance and form since winning her maiden Grand Slam at the French Open last year, but has looked close to her best judging by her comfortable wins over Samantha Crawford in the second round and Anastasija Sevastova in the third round. The tall, imposing Spaniard has not always shown the best body language in her on-court demeanour, but the improvement in her application to each and every point is there for everyone to see in Melbourne.
Sorana Cirstea is bidding to reach her first Grand Slam Quarter-Final for eight years. The Romanian is some way off the ranking she once held back in 2013 but has shown some encouraging signs on the hard courts of Melbourne this fortnight.
This will feature heavy ball striking from both players. Both Cirstea and Muguruza will try to gain the advantage by staying on the front foot at all times. These two are much better in offence in comparison to their defensive attributes, so expect a positive, aggressive brand of tennis from both players throughout this match.
Prediction: Muguruza in two sets.
Mona Barthel vs Venus Williams  H2H: Venus Williams leads 2-0
Mona Barthel is the feel-good story of the Australian Open. After suffering from a debilitating, fatigue-related illness that left her barely in the World’s Top 200, she has now made the fourth round for the first time in her career. Barthel, who has been as high as No.23 in the world, is one of the more gifted ball strikers on the WTA Tour. When the German’s game is on point she is very hard to stop as she is a destructive striker of the ball. It now feels like Barthel has the rejuvenated mindset of knowing that she cannot get any lower than what she had experienced in recent years, so is playing with so much freedom on the court and it shows in her performances of late.
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