Tennis: 7 Women’s picks for the Australian Open 3rd Round
Romania’s Simona Halep celebrates after defeating United States’ Sofia Kenin in their second round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)(AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Tennis: 7 Women’s picks for the Australian Open 3rd Round

In the marquee matchups and nailbiters, we seek more winners

Australian Open
Third Round - Women

Halep over V. Williams
Halep has gone three sets in each of her first two matches, which is unusual for the top seed. On the other hand, she beat two exceptional players, one of whom beat her in the first round of the 2018 U.S. Open. She had an extended layoff and hadn’t won a match since last August, but she gutted out both of these matches, the first of which was in heat over 90 degrees. Venus, on the other hand, contends with Sjoren’s Syndrome on a daily basis yet managed, at 38 years old, to take out the tough Romanian lefthander Mihaela Buzarnescu (who was the 25th seed) and the feisty French fighter Alize Cornet. This should be a cat fight, but I think Halep will win because she’s more consistent as a player, and more determined and stubborn as a competitor at this point in their careers.

S. Williams over Yastremska
It’s all about Serena. She looked awfully dominating in her first two matches, and seemed not to even break a sweat against former Wimbledon Runner-Up Genie Bouchard in her 6-2, 6-2 romp yesterday. The 18-year-old Yastremska has no weapons to hurt Serena and I’d be surprise if this match lasts over an hour.

Pliskova over Giorgi
I think Giorgi is playing some terrific tennis and I believe she can win this match. What makes me pick Pliskova is that she’s 6’1”, which gives her advantages on her serve and her reach, and that she’s won a whopping 65% of her pro matches, because she knows how to close out when it’s tough. If they get into extended backcourt rallies Giorgi can pull this off, but if Pliskova controls the match through timing and strategy, she’ll be victorious.

Osaka over Hsieh
Naomi Osaka had a brief letdown in the latter part of yesterday’s second set but still managed to beat Tamara Zidanesk in straight sets. Osaka is still young and vulnerable to an occasional walkabout, and if she loses her focus for an extended period of time Hsieh will make her pay for it. Hsieh is a vicious competitor and a Tour veteran, but I don’t see her possessing the necessary weapons to take out the reigning U.S. Open champion.

Kvitova over Bencic
Kvitova rolled to a tournament title last week over Barty and has carried that high level of play into this Open and won her first two matches without dropping a set. Bencic, on the other hand, has competed in two successive three setters and deserves a lot of credit for gutting out both of those matches. Kvitova should dominate the new Swiss Miss and move into the Round of 16 based on recent form.

Wozniacki over Sharapova
This is the marquee match of Round 3, and there are a lot of variables surrounding it. Frankly, most of those variables surround the 6’2” Russian, as Sharapova can be mind-numbingly good or mouth-opening inconsistent. You pretty much always know what you’re going to get from Wozniacki and for that reason I think Wozniacki, the Defending Champion, will prevail in a tight, close match.

Kerber over Birrell
Kerber played two straight workmanlike matches in the earlier rounds and looks pretty solid. Birrell, an Aussie wildcard, has come through to Round 3 after a nice win over 29th seeded Donna Vekic. Still, Kerber has matured into a very dangerous, solid player with a ton of experience, and has three Grand Slam championships to show for it. Birrell will learn from the spanking she’s going to get from the second seed.

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