Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova will continue their Australian Open campaigns on Friday. Standing in their way of the fourth round are Daria Kasatkina and Lauren Davis, respectively.
(1) Serena Williams vs. Daria Kasatkina
Williams dealt with inflammation in her left knee at the Hopman Cup, retiring from one match and then pulling out from the remainder of the tournament. But, as expected, she is good to go at the Australian Open. So far this fortnight the world No. 1 has cruised past Camila Giorgi and Su-Wei Hsieh in straight sets.
Up next for the 21-time Grand Slam champion is a first-ever encounter with Kasatkina during third-round action on Friday. The 18-year-old, who registers at 69th in the world, booked her spot in the last 32 by taking out Anna Karolina Schmiedlova and Ana Konjuh in routine fashion. Kasatkina made it to the Auckland quarterfinals earlier this month, upsetting Venus Williams along the way. The younger Williams sister will not be so forgiving in this one. She is the defending champion of this event and is looking for a 22nd major title. Kasatkina will not be the one to stop her.
Pick: Williams in 2 losing 5-7 games
Lauren Davis vs. (5) Maria Sharapova
Sharapova and Davis will also be going head-to-head for the first time in their careers on Friday. The fortnight is off to a dominant start for Sharapova, who has advanced with wins over Nao Hibino (6-1, 6-3) and Aliaksandra Sasnovich (6-2, 6-1). The fifth-seeded Russian has been extremely consistent in Melbourne, with one title (2008), three runner-up performances, and a total of seven trips to at least the semifinals.
Davis is a 22-year-old American who comes in at No. 103 in the world. She solidified her spot in the third round by upsetting Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in three sets and getting a retirement from Magdalena Rybarikova in the last 64. Davis had taken the opening frame of play 9-7 in a tiebreaker. The underdog has never made it past this stage of a major, having previously lost in the Australian Open third round in 2014 before doing the same at Wimbledon that summer. At just 5’2”, Davis loves playing offense–but she will not be able to do that on consistent basis against Sharapova.
Pick: Sharapova in 2 losing 5-7 games