Australian Open R3 previews and picks: Williams vs. Kasatkina, Sharapova vs. Davis

Serena Williams (vs. Genie Bouchard)

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

56 Comments on Australian Open R3 previews and picks: Williams vs. Kasatkina, Sharapova vs. Davis

  1. Nice thread, Ricky!

    I wrote this on the Radwanksa v Bouchard thread yesterday:
    “Potentially great Round 3 matches coming up for the Top Half on Day 5:
    Dasha v Kiki Mladenovic (my top match pick)
    Aga v Monica Puig
    Yulia Putintseva v Rita Gasparyan
    Anna-Lena Friedsam v US Open Runner-up Roberta Vinci
    Even… Serena v dangerous #69 Daria Kasatkina might be good. The plucky 18 year old Russian, who replaced Sharapova at US Open, won matches over rising WTA stars, 28th seed – Anna Schmiedlova and Ana Konjuh. Can Kasatkina make a dent in Serena’s armor?”

    Have to go with Serena in 2 sets, but it will be fun to see Kasatkina again. Hope the young Russian can make a set give us a good match. We’ll see 🙂

    Maria in 2 losing 5-7

    Dasha Gavrilova v Kiki Mladenovic, (this is a must see for me) with two of the most exciting rising stars in the WTA.

  2. Going with:
    Aganieszka Radwanska over Monica Puig (match is at 11 pm EST, 9pm MST, or 8 pm PST)
    Daria Gavrilova over KiKi Mladenovic (Dasha has played a lot of tennis leading up to Australian Open but the crowd will pull her through one more, I think, (though Kiki could spoil the party).

    Bencic over Bondarenko
    Vinci over Friedsam
    Gasparyan over Putintseva
    Suarez-Navarro over Kulichova

  3. The #12 seed, Belinda Benic started slow and lost the first set 4-6 to unseeded, #92 ranked Ukrainian, Kateryna Bondarenko. The 18 year old talented Swiss miss, Bencic won the second set 6-2. They have met twice – h2h 1-1. I picked Belinda to win based on her superior rank – she’s been an impressive rising star over the last year and a half that I’ve followed her. Will confess to not following Bondarenko. Apparently, the commentators inform me, she had a baby and retired from tennis. But the 29 year old is back. Good for her!

  4. Belinda got tight serving for the match. Now locked in a deuce fight.

    3rd match point….
    Belinda makes it! It wasn’t an easy 2 hours of tennis.
    Maria Sharapova or Lauren Davis is on next. The winner will play Bencic next round.

  5. Masha not letting Lauren get more than a game that first set. And Maria is not taking her foot off the gas. Very stingy and ungenerous.

    • I got to watch the third set with Maria storming back to bagel Lauren. But at least she got a set off Sharapova. That’s something.

  6. On ESPN2, Chrissy Evert comments that Lauren Davis spends a lot of time watching 5’3″ Dominika Cibulkova. It shows in her tennis – aggressive, strong and speedy like Cibby.
    But it’s a bridge too far for gutsy Lauren this time. Maria serves her a third set bagel. 61 76 60 Maria.

  7. Hey! Ricky is doing WTA picks! Will wonders never cease! 🙂

    Spot on with the prediction for Sharapova’s match.

    • Nny, I fell asleep as usual. But was never going to make it to watch the marquee match I wanted to watch – Dasha v Mladenovic. Will have to watch it on replay. MST and PST are very incompatible with watching the latest scheduled matches.

  8. WTA AO moves at warp speed into the 4th round.
    Top Half
    Serena Williams v Margarita Gasparyan
    Gasparyan, yes, I’ve seen the name in a draw but this AO is my first time watching her. She is a 6’0″, 21 yr. old Russian, ranked #58. Career matches won-lost, 13-10. Margarita knocked out my pick, 17th seed, Sara Errani in the first round and went on to beat Karumi Nara and fellow countryman Yulia Putintseva. She’s earned the privilege of playing WTA #1, Serena Williams, who just polished off Daria Kasatkina 61 61, and Serena shows no wobbles so far. Nothing to suggest seeing this match going any other way than: Serena in 2 easy sets.

    Seeds #5 Maria Sharapova v #12 Belinda Bencic
    This might be good, maybe very good. Bencic loves pace and power and this is their first meeting. A match I cannot miss – no sleeping for me.

    Agnieszka Radwanska v Anna-Lena Friedsam
    #82, Friedsam is another one I couldn’t have guessed would get this far, but now I know better. The 22 yr. old German will see Aga Radwanska across the net for the second time in 2016. Friedsam is in good form and made the Shenzhen semifinal where she lost 64 62. Aga won Shenzhen. To say I like Aga is an understatement – I’m a long-time fan of the Polish magician.

    #10 seed, Carla Suarez-Navarro v Home Favorite: Daria Gavrilova
    Carla Suarez-Navarro is synonymous with consistency for me. This would probably be a better match-up – but my guess is that dashing Dasha should be toast by now. We’ll see.

    • rc,

      You like Aga? I really like her, too! I have enjoyed watching her play for some time. She is quite often under the radar, but in her own way she is brilliant. When she’s on her game, it’s a joy to watch her. I will be cheering her on for sure.

      I also want to see Sharapova and Bencic. I already saw an earlier Bencic match. I am interested in seeing more of her. I am going to stay up as late as possible as long as there are matches I want to see live. I can sleep in tomorrow morning.

      It’s fun having a topic thread to chat about the women!

  9. Dasha’s win over Mladenovic today was epic.

    She kept her poise and held her nerve to serve out the match. Didn’t tighten up at all.

    The post match on court interview was hilarious.

    When asked about the pressure of repeatedly serving to stay in the match, she said “I’m great from behind” and then covered her mouth in horror.

  10. AO Day 6
    Who will get to the 4th round from the Lower Half?
    Starting with my favorite upcoming match:

    Resurgent #14 seed Victoria Azarenka v Naomi Osaka
    If you haven’t heard of Naomi Osaka it’s time to take note. She’s awesome and talented. She’s very young: turned 18 last October. She’s from Haitian/Japanese heritage. Read more about Naomi here:
    http://www.news.com.au/sport/tennis/australian-open/naomi-osaka-is-as-honest-and-funny-as-they-come/news-story/1afa4537368867c00c04f014aac96773

    Not that I’m thinking Naomi Osaka will upset former #1 and two time Australian Open Champion, Vika Azarenka, but I’m very interested to see what happens. Number 127th ranked Naomi worked her way through qualifying rounds, beat Donna Vekic first round main draw, then, 18th seed, Elina Svitolina 2nd round.

    I’ll pick Vika in 2 easy sets but what great results for Naomi Osaka!

  11. The Rest:
    Three Americans remain on the schedule. #15th seed, Madison Keys, Varvara Lepchenko, and Madison Brengle.

    #7th seed, Angelique Kerber over Madison Brengle
    Kerber and Brengle have met three times, twice in 2015 and as recently as Brisabane two weeks ago. Kerber won all three meetings losing only one set last fall in Tokyo.

    #3rd seed, Garbine Muguruza over Barbora Strycova
    #29th seed, Ana Ivanovic over #15th, Madison Keys

    #21st seed, Ekaterina Makarova over #9th seed, Karolina Pliskova
    Going with bracket pick, experienced lefty, Makarova – formerly ranked #8, back to good form after an injury last season. But I like this match-up a lot!

    Varvara Lepchenko over Shuai Zhang
    Johanna Konta over Denisa Allertova
    Annika Beck over Laura Siegemund

  12. My pick Garbine Muguruza doesn’t look like she feels well and haven’t heard what’s wrong. Strycova running away with the match.

    Johanna Konta is raced through in two sets 62 62.
    Karolina and Ekaterina – the gazelles. Ekaterina is just more confident and fired up, as I thought she’d be. She’s got it done in straight set, too. 63 62

    Konta meets Makarova 4th round.

  13. rc,

    I was watching Muguruza and the ESPN commies where saying that she might have a foot issue because she wasn’t moving that well. They definitely thought there was something off with her. She’s another one that I have been keeping an eye on. I don’t know Strycova.

    • Yes, are agree Nny and Luckystar: Vika is There was a little confusion for Vika because she’d never played Naomi but it was all too easy in the end. 18 yr. old Naomi Osaka has a bright future, however.

      A more difficult test 4th round in Gasparyan but I expect Vika to make it.

      Hi Nny, Strycova is Czech, she’s in her late twenties, she’s 5’5″, has played some of her best tennis the past couple years but not the talent Muguruza is. Garbine looked miserable. Whatever it was, she wasn’t able to play her best – very frustrating for her. I thought she looked good for a deep run in AO.

        • Nny, left you a note on your Bracket. Was checking out brackets and you have a chance to get 7 of the 8 quarter-finalists right. Phoenix Risisng, Hawk, still might get 6 of 8 qf. That make you tops, depending on Tsonga or Kei winning later today – 4th Round. Game is still on Hawk and Phoenix Rising Picked different runner-up’s. Since it’s not certain Nole wins, we’ve got one bracket that has Roger winning and perhaps all semi finalists right, maybe. It’s possible to toil at the bottom of the bracket all the way and still win if you get the semi’s, final and winner right and no one else does! 😀

    • I expect Vika to win this AO! She’s impressive so far and she has no fear of Serena which I like. She has the skill to deal with Serena at the AO court.

  14. Yes, it’s true that Vika has the game to challenge Serena. She does so much better than Sharapova, who just cannot beat Serena.

    I am glad to see Vika playing like her old self again.

  15. rc,

    Do you know the latest on the bracket challenge? Tsonga losing was a bummer. I heard that he hurt his back, but I don’t he was going to beat Kei anyway.

    I let my heart rule over my head with my picks for Rafa. Picking him to get to the quarterfinals or maybe even semis didn’t seem to be a stretch, but I got carried away with picking him for the final.

    I am trying to keep up with the results for the women.

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