2018 Aussie Open, The Picks, Day 5

Maria Sharapova vs Angie Kerber
This should be an amazing matchup. Both of them have won Slams, both of them have been No. 1, both of them never, ever give up. They work out all the time, they are incredibly strong, they are very smart and they think about exactly what they should doing. Neither of them likes to come into the net.

However, Maria can crush the ball from both sides, and Angie goes side-to-side as quickly as just about anyone. They have played each other seven times: on grass, on clay and on hardcourts. Sharapova has won four matches, and Kerber has won three. Maria beat her at the 2012 Aussie Open, and Angie grabbing her at the 2014 Wimbledon Open. They haven’t played each other in nearly three years — too long. The veterans now each other well, and they both want to go on court and see who is playing as well as she can. Last year, Kerber was flat while Sharapova missed most of the year due to suspension and injury.

But perhaps they will rise this season and come very close to winning a major again. Perhaps, next week, but only one of them can reach the trophy. Over the past few weeks, Kerber has played excellent ball. Maria hasn’t played much during the past few months. Kerber will win in three sets, in a fun marathon.  

Katarina Pliskova vs. Lucie Safarova
I am still waiting for the former No. 1 Pliskova to finally win a major. This year? Hard to say, but she rarely backs off, which is good. Safarova is a terrific player at the net. Here is another tight contest. If the tall Pliskova is calm, she will win. If Safarova serves big and moves the balls into the corner, she will win. I lean to Katarina who will win with a few stunning and flashy down-the-line backhands.

Juan Martin del Potro vs Tomas Berdych
These two have known each other for many years, and once again, they are very close. The Argentine won a major a long time ago, at the USO, while the Czech has reached the final at Wimbledon. They are tall, they both have massive first serves, as well as some huge forehands. They don’t run very fast, but good enough, and when they get to the net, they can bend down and put it away. Berdych got hurt last year and he has yet to recover. DelPo has looked pretty good, but not spectacular — yet. Still, as long as the Argentine can hit his backhand — his one-hander and a two-hander — deep, he will win. DelPo dearly wants to reach to the second week. He will in four sets.

Alexander Zverev vs Hyeon Chung
Two young players are getting better each month. Zverev is already in the top 3, while the South Korean is more tempered now. He won the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan right at the end of the year. However, while Chung moves around the court quickly, Zverev is a gigantic hitter — everywhere. The German will win in four sets.

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