Victoria Azarenka is still searching for another Grand Slam and after recovering well over the last couple of years, the Belarusian has been frustrated with recent Grand Slam performances. Azarenka’s semi-final run in Guadalajara, was a sign that on her day she can put a world class run together but those moments have been very occasional. Now Azarenka will look to show in Melbourne that she can return to the top of the game and claim a third Grand Slam title.
First up for Azarenka is fellow Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin who has been out for a long time with injuries delaying her progress. The tenacious American has looked to redevelop herself as she looks to revisit the scene of her former glory. Kenin enters this match in decent form having reached the semi-finals in Hobart and will look to carry the momentum into Melbourne.
This match will see the power of Azarenka take on the counter-attacking abilities of Kenin which will see the serve become an important factor in deciding the winner of this match. Both players are quality returners and so whoever serves the best and dictates the tempo of this match more consistently should win this match. This will be a tight match but Kenin is just short of recent Grand Slam matches to suggest that she will win this match.
Prediction: Azarenka in three sets.
Stefanos Tsitsipas  v Quentin Halys H2H & Match Fundamentals
Stefanos Tsitsipas loves playing the Australian Open and his route to the semi-finals showed that, playing very impressive tennis along the way. However the Greek still lacks that grit and winning mentality to go all the way and win a Grand Slam. Tsitsipas will be hoping that this year will be different and he can finally breakthrough to win his first Grand Slam title.
If Tsitsipas wants to achieve that in Melbourne, then he will have to get past an in-form Quentin Halys in the first round. Halys gave Novak Djokovic a stern test in Adelaide and followed that up by winning back-to-back matches in Auckland. The Frenchman has a big serve and can match power with finesse to outsmart his opponents as he will look to pull off a major upset at a Grand Slam.
Halys will look to make life difficult for the third seed by dictating the tempo of the match on serve and creating open space on the court to hit winners. Tsitsipas will look to use his backhand to put his opponent into uncomfortable positions in the court as well as come into the net on occasions. This will be a tricky test for Tsitsipas but one he should overcome in four sets.
Prediction: Tsitsipas in four sets.
Iga Swiatek  v Jule Niemeier H2H & Match Fundamentals
Iga Swiatek was well and truly the player to beat last season having won two Grand Slams and comfortably ended the season world number one. However the Pole hasn’t had it all her own way so far this season with a shoulder injury as well as a comprehensive defeat to Jessica Pegula at the United Cup halting her progress. Now Swiatek will look to find her groove again and win her third Grand Slam title.
First up for Swiatek is big-serving German Jule Niemeier who gave Swiatek a tough time at the US Open last year. Niemeier made her Grand Slam breakthrough at Wimbledon last year where she reached the quarter-finals and has shown on multiple occasions she has the game to go deep in big tournaments. Now Niemeier will look to fulfil her potential and cause an upset in Melbourne.
Swiatek will need to return well here and will look to capitalise on Niemeier’s lull in form recently. This is a good match for the Pole to begin with as she can work her way into the tournament and really test her serve against a player that isn’t known for her elite returning. It will be a tough match but Swiatek’s quality should be too strong for Niemeier here.
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