Women’s first round at Australian Open

Sloane Stephens

Here are four matches in the first round at the Australian Open within the women. The next day, the men.

Sofia Kenin vs. Madison Keys
After winning the 2020 Australian Open, Kenin looked excellent, but gradually she grew nervous and inconsistent. Currently, she is trying to be more thoughtful, and when she is on court, she is mixing it up a little bit. If she is going deep in Melbourne, she has to serve and return like a demon. Keys is finally playing better this week, because last year she was mentally and physically out of it. But when she is on, she can smoke the ball. This match is a tossup, but assuming she won’t get hurt, Keys will wear down in three terrific sets.

Emma Raducanu vs. Sloane Stephens
The young Brit was moving forward on court when she won the 2021 US Open. She was thrilled, and on court, she ran confidently, including her muscular forehand and her backhand. Raducanu likes to rally, as does another US Open winner Stephens. The now veteran American is an incredible grinder, but not recently. In fact, last year she did win some important matches, but the No. 68 lost a lot. If she wants to come back into the top 10, then she is going to totally commit. She is a darn good player, but she has to prove that she really wants to be smarter on court. Raducanu is more focused now, and she will win in straight sets.

Coco Gauff vs. Qiang Wang
The American teenager continues to grow, month after month. Clearly, she is not Serena Williams yet, but her forehand and her backhand are heavy and now she can mix it up more. She also throws in lots of spin and power. However, her serve and her return are so-so. Four years ago, Wang looked good, cracking into the top 20, beating some very good players, but over the past couple years she fell. Yes, she was injured and didn’t know which way to turn. Currently, she is ranked No. 112, so she has a lot of work to do. But, it is too big a task for Wang to take down Gauff in this tournament.

Barbora Krejcikova vs. Andrea Petkovic
In June, the Czech won Roland Garros, which was unexpected. She finally knew what she had to do. After that, her confidence rose. She can rip the ball, returning calmly. Yes, Krejcikova can still be up and down, but she is much more consistent than Petkovic. The German is very smart when she talks. However, she is aging and it is hard for her to crack balls deep enough to challenge a top 10 player. Petkovic will focus but Krejcikova is just too strong.

%d bloggers like this: