Francesca Jones will play Monica Niculescu once more, after putting the Romanian out of the Australian Open qualifying rounds. It was a typically gritty performance by Jones at the time, to beat the more experienced player in straight sets.
All in all, Jones has enjoyed the experience, and above all else, she has a chance to get some more WTA Tour main draw action under her belt.
Niculescu’s trademark slicing and dicing did not hold up under the sustained pressure of Jones’ aggressive game and the power behind her heavy top-spin forehand, behind which the rest of her game comes together.
She had a couple of tough first rounds in Melbourne, but she should have some confidence behind her that she has gotten the better of Niculescu once before, and in truth it would give her a real confidence push to get another win while she is out in Melbourne.
Niculescu has only played twice and is yet to get a win in 2021.
Prediction: Jones in three sets.
Katie Boulter v Daria Kasatkina H2H & Match Fundamentals
Another week, another match-up against a returning to form Daria Kasatkina for Katie Boulter. The Brit had a great run in the lead-up to the Australian Open with the notable scalp of Coco Gauff in the Gippsland Trophy but was disappointed with her performance against Kasatkina in the first round.
Kasatkina has been steadily returning to the kind of form she showed a couple of years ago before a period where she really did not look as though she was even enjoying herself anymore on the court.
Of course this time she got the better of the Brit before herself exiting the Australian Open, but Boulter did not really get much of a chance to get her game going. She looked rushed and over-pressed and racked up errors, so there is plenty to improve upon coming into this encounter.
Boulter will have to be prepared to move, but it will be key to play her own game, and not get rushed into unforced errors. It is still a tough ask for the Brit but hopefully she will feel a bit better prepared.
Prediction: Kasatkina in three sets.
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