MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev will face their first tests of this year’s Australian Open as they begin the second round action on day three of the first Grand Slam of the year.
Rafael Nadal is into the second round but only just after an incredible effort from Jack Draper forced him into a four set battle. The test from Draper may prove beneficial for Nadal in the long run as the Spaniard entered the Australian Open with a lack of match fitness and a lack of confidence. The defending champion will know that tougher tests are ahead of him in terms of a physicality perspective but ultimately Nadal will believe that this format was made for him and that he can outmuscle anyone on his day.
Nadal’s next challenge comes in the form of American Mackenzie McDonald who battled past compatriot Brandon Nakashima in the first round. Despite the talks of America’s outstanding depth in the men’s game right now, nobody is speaking about McDonald who’s baseline movement ensures he can turn defence into attack within seconds. The American will be hoping he hasn’t exerted too much energy as he searches for the biggest win of his career at the Australian Open.
Nadal will look to dictate play from the baseline and make McDonald move out of position with his forehand. The American will look to make a high percentage of returns and dominate the tempo of the match in the early stages of the rallies. Unfortunately for the American, Nadal has far too much consistent power for McDonald to make this an effective tactic and the defending champion should prevail even if there is a blip in between.
Prediction: Nadal in four sets.
Danielle Collins  v Karolina Muchova [PR] H2H & Match Fundamentals
Danielle Collins is back in Melbourne, a year after reaching the final where she was defeated by Ash Barty. Collins will look to go one step further this season but had to endure a tough test against Anna Kalinskaya to reach the second round and will hope to play better as the tournament goes on. The American’s gritty baseline game mixed with a fiery personality means that she is one of the toughest players to play against tactically and mentally especially in the later rounds and Collins will hope that’s the case again in Melbourne.
However a big test awaits Collins in the second set in the form of former semi-finalist Karolina Muchova. Muchova’s tricky style of play which includes slices and aggressive approach shots to the net has been held back in the last couple of years with injuries. However on her day, Muchova can be a big threat and will be looking for another deep run in Melbourne after a first round victory over Lesia Tsurenko.
Collins will look to grind Muchova down from the baseline, using angles and her serve as a way of powering past the Czech Republican. Muchova will look to use her slice and variety to neutralise the point before finding the space to hit easy and effective winners. This should be a good match but the longer it goes, the more it will favour the American.
Prediction: Collins in three sets.
Daniil Medvedev  v John Millman [WC] H2H & Match Fundamentals
Daniil Medvedev wasn’t messing about in his opening round match as he dispatched Marcos Giron with only the loss of three games. Last year’s finalist loves the conditions in Melbourne and will be looking to make a major statement ahead of a potential quarter-final with Nadal. Despite a turbulent end to the year last season, Medvedev will still believe that he can reclaim the world number one spot this year and will look to take a big step towards that goal by winning the Australian Open.
The next test for Medvedev is Australian wildcard John Millman who loves a big match at his home Grand Slam. That theory was proved when the Australian scored a five set win over Marc-Andrea Huesler booking his place in the second round. It’s been a rough couple of years for Millman but he will be hoping that a good performance against Medvedev can be a catalyst for more ranking points on the ATP tour. Having had a five set thriller against Roger Federer a few years ago, Millman will be hoping that the home crowd can help him achieve another big result this year.
This match suits Medvedev really well as Millman isn’t necessarily known for finishing the points off early which is what he’s going to need to do here. The Australian will need to serve well and hope the crowd can motivate him to play a high level. This will be a tight match especially in the opening set where Millman will be at his best but Medvedev should prevail without too many problems.
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