By Jake Davies
- Dominika Cibulkova  vs Ekaterina Makarova  H2H: Cibulkova leads 3-0
- Daria Gavrilova  vs Timea Bacsinszky  H2H: Gavrilova leads 2-0
- Barbora Strycova  vs Caroline Garcia  H2H: Strycova leads 5-1
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Aussie hopes still ride high as we take a look at the best of the Round Three match-ups on Day Six of the Australian Open.
Dominika Cibulkova  vs Ekaterina Makarova  H2H: Cibulkova leads 3-0
Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova owns a very favourable head-to-head over her next opponent Ekaterina Makarova and she has a great reason to feel great about her game following her recent run of results on the WTA Tour. She closed her year out with a final showing in Wuhan, winning her 3rd title of the year in Linz and taking home the title in Singapore at the WTA Finals. In the WTA Finals, Cibulkova demonstrated that she really is a threat to everyone on the tennis court. Her aggressive style of play, positive body language and fast-paced play between point almost makes Cibulkova look like a woman possessed when she is in the heat of the battle on a tennis court. The fact that she plays such a fearless, aggressive brand of tennis is why many players believe they are always in for a huge fight when Cibulkova is on the other side of the net.
Makarova, the left-hander from Russia, is also a dangerous opponent. She hits flat and hard from the baseline and is capable of causing a few shock upsets of her own. In the 2012 version of the Australian Open she shockingly beat Serena Williams, which remains her biggest win to date during her career.
The head-to-head in this match-up speaks volumes. Cibulkova can be relentless on her day and I think the Slovakian wins this one in straight sets.
Prediction: Cibulkova in two sets.
Daria Gavrilova  vs Timea Bacsinszky  H2H: Gavrilova leads 2-0
In the second pick of the third round matches on Day Six of the Australian Open, Daria Gavrilova meets Timea Bacsinszky for a place in the second week of the ‘Happy Slam.’ Gavrilova has fought through some incredibly tough matches to earn her place in the third round. First of all she beat Britain’s Naomi Broady 3-6 6-4 7-5 in a match that could have gone either way. Gavrilova then came through an even greater challenge of Croatia’s Ana Konjuh, where she won 6-2 1-6 6-4. Just like we saw in the 2016 Australian Open, Gavrilova seems to bring out her best tennis when she plays in front of her home crowd and really feeds off the energy of the Australian spectators watching court side.
Gavrilova played Bacsinszky on the hard court surface in Beijing last year, where the Aussie managed to get the victory. The courts in Melbourne are slower in comparison to the fast courts of Beijing, which I think suits the Australian. Gavrilova likes to patrol the baseline and excels in the defensive aspect of the game of tennis. The Australian Open courts gives Gavrilova the additional time to get as many balls back as possible against the far more aggressive players.
Prediction: Gavrilova in two sets.
Barbora Strycova  vs Caroline Garcia  H2H: Strycova leads 5-1
These two players could not be any more different and it will be intriguing to see which brand of tennis succeeds when Barbora Strycova and Caroline Garcia collide in their third round match. Strycova is well-known for her court-craft and her movement around the court. Her quick foot speed allows her to retrieve a lot of balls that most of the other players in the Top 100 could not even think about getting to. Strycova not only offers a lot in the defensive aspect of the game, but she can also finish points off at the net and is a very capable doubles player in her own right – winning the Olympic bronze medal in doubles in Rio last year with Lucie Safarova.
Garcia is the much more attack-minded player, but she can find it hard to construct the right shots at the right time during match-play. The next step of improvement for a player with an abundance of talent like Garcia is learning when to attack and when to defend, which all comes with experience of the big matches on the big courts.
Strycova has had Garcia’s number in the past and I think Garcia’s lack of composure in the moments that matter could give Strycova the win in this battle.
Prediction: Strycova in three sets.
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