United States’ Serena Williams hits a backhand return to Germany’s Tatjana Maria during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
United States’ Serena Williams hits a backhand return to Germany’s Tatjana Maria during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)|(AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Tennis: A dozen picks for the Australian Open Women’s 2nd Round

Each round gets harder to handicap as the talent gap narrows, but 19-3 for the 1st Round was a good way to start.

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

Australian Open
Women’s Second Round

Serena Williams over Genie Bouchard
Okay, you say that Bouchard could never beat Serena Williams. Oh, really? Over the last 8 Grand Slam tournaments there have been eight different champions, and none of them were Serena. Additionally, eleven different women are in line to be ranked #1 in the world depending on the outcome of this tournament, and none of them are Serena. In 2014 Bouchard reached the finals of Wimbledon and appeared ready to ascend to the Top 5 in the world. Sadly, she had a bad fall after a match at the U.S. Open and is only now looking like the player she was before the fall. She could surprise everyone and keep Serena from winning her 24th Grand Slam tournament, but it’s hard to bet against Serena.

Garbine Muguruza over Joanna Konta
The 6’ Muguruza, who was born in Venezuela, lives in Switzerland, and represents Spain, played a complete and efficient match in her first round win over China’s Saisai Zeng. Konta eked out a third set tiebreaker in overcoming Ajla Tomljanovic, which showed guts and strength. But guts and strength won’t get Konta over Muguruza. The Spaniard will move on.

Camila Giorgi over Iga Swiatek
Swiatek is a 17-year-old rookie from Poland who hits both ground strokes with two hands. Giorgi is a 27-year-old veteran who weighs under 120 pounds and is one of the smaller players on the WTA Tour. Still, Giorgi is a veteran, is a seed, and has a career winning record on the Tour, which is nothing to sneeze at. Barring a great stretch from Swiatek, I would think that Giorgi’s experience will prevail in this fascinating matchup.

Karolina Pliskova over Madison Brengle
Brengle, from Dover, DE, had a nice, easy win in the first round over Miska Doi, a qualifier from Japan. But the 6’1” Pliskova is playing some of the best tennis of her career and should be too much for her American opponent.

Naomi Osaka over Tamara Zidansek
Osaka had little to say after her relatively easy first round win over Poland’s Magda Linette. As she said, “I don’t talk much.” But she let her racket do the talking, and it spoke volumes. It announced that Osaka, the reigning U.S. Open Champion, is here to win this tournament.

Madison Keys over Anastasia Potapova
You never know what Madison Keys is going to do out there. If she just plays her game she will roll over the 17-year-old Russian rookie, Potapova. But if she lets the heat, her serve, her forehand, the spectacle, or the occasion get to her, she could go down. I think she looked solid enough yesterday to have that mindset continue into this match.

Elina Svitolina over Viktoria Kuzmova
The sixth-ranked Svitolina rolled to a straight set win in her first match here and she has to be considered a potential contender. She should get past Kuzmova, a 20-year-old Slovakian who could use a little more seasoning before she takes out someone ranked in the Top 10.

Petra Kvitova over Irina-Camelia Begu
Kvitova won Sydney last week, won an easy straight set victory in her first rounder here, and looks sharp as can be. As long as she maintains that level of play she’ll be hard to beat, and the experienced Begu won’t beat her.

Aryna Sabalenka over Katie Boulter
Sabalenka is ranked 11th in the world and looks like she’ll move into the Top Ten shortly. Boulter won a tense third set tie-breaker to move into the second round and might not have enough time to recover. The tough Sabalenka, who reminds me of a bare-knuckle boxer, should knock out Boulter in this potential battle.

Maria Sharapova over Rebecca Peterson
It’s been 15 years since Sharapova broke into the collective tennis consciousness by winning Wimbledon over Serena Williams, and her career has been mostly a highlight reel since then. She’s finally serving almost as well as she did back then, before she had shoulder surgery, but at 31 she’s approaching the expiration date for female tennis professionals. She has highlights left and she might add to them in this second round match as she overcomes Sweden’s 23-year-old Peterson with little trouble.

Caroline Wozniacki over Johanna Larsson
Defending Champion Wozniacki had a straight set win over the tough Alison Van Uytvanck in the first round and she should have no difficulty with the journeyman Johanna Larsson in the second. This win should set up an interesting third round match with Sharapova, also a past Australian champion, in 2008.

Angelique Kerber over Beatriz Haddad Maia
Kerber, the second seed, looked strong in only losing four games in the first round. She should have little, if any trouble with the 22-year-old Brazilian, Haddad Maia.

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