By Jake Davies
- Kateryna Kozlova vs Venus Williams  H2H:Williams leads 1-0
- Louisa Chirico vs Eugenie Bouchard H2H: First meeting
- Mona Barthel vs Destanee Aiava H2H: First meeting
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – We have some intriguing picks for our Australian Open 2017 Day One WTA picks of the action.
Kateryna Kozlova vs Venus Williams  H2H: Williams leads 1-0
This is the most intriguing match of the first Day of the 2017 Australian Open on the women’s side. Many will look at this match and reach the conclusion that Kateryna Kozlova is vastly inexperienced at this level, but she has played on the big courts at Grand Slams in the past. The Ukrainian has the additional experience of playing on the Centre Court at Wimbledon and the Arthur Ashe Stadium at last year’s US Open, where she actually played Venus Williams in a very close three-set match.
Williams comes into the first grand slam of the year with a few minor concerns. No-one really knows where her tennis is at. She withdrew with pain in her right arm in the ASB Classic in Auckland at the beginning of the year and she has not played a competitive match since. The 36-year-old still has loads to offer the WTA Tour but it looks like her battles will become more challenging.
I expect another very tough match for Williams. Kozlova offers a variation of shots from the baseline. She can hit through the court with her backhand down the line, which is her favourite shot and can also produce powerful serves to see her through tight situations.
The Ukrainian may have gained a wealth of experience of playing on these bigger courts, but she is still yet to get that big win against one of the top players, which counts for everything in this particular instance.
Prediction: Venus Williams in three sets
Louisa Chirico vs Eugenie Bouchard H2H: First meeting
In the second of our picks to watch, Eugenie Bouchard starts her campaign against Louisa Chirico. They are two players that have dealt with a lot of expectation in the early stages of their career. The American is not far away from her career-high ranking, which she achieved last year. She achieved some impressive results on the red clay by making the semi-final in the Mutua Madrid Open and winning her first grand slam match at the French Open, but now it is about showing consistent results throughout the whole season and on different surfaces.
A return to the heights of 2014 is something that Bouchard has been desperate for. She performed consistently at majors to the point where she made the WTA Finals for the very first time, but has fallen off the tennis radar ever since that season.
I think Chirico could cause Bouchard a lot of problems in this opener. If the American can get her forehand into play and remain on the front foot, then she could cause the upset against a former semi-finalist here.
Prediction: Chirico in three sets
Mona Barthel vs Destanee Aiava H2H: First meeting
In a match between two brutal ball-strikers, Germany’s Mona Barthel faces 16-year-old wonder kid Destanee Aiava. The beginning of 2017 could not have started any better for Aiava. She won the Under-18 tournament in Australia, which enabled her to be granted a wild-card for her first grand slam main draw and then won her first WTA main draw match at the Brisbane International, where she eventually lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Aiava is aware that she is gaining more and more recognition and fans and players alike are starting to understand the way she plays tennis and what she brings to the tennis court. She is a heavy hitter that has a very powerful serve. The serve and forehand alone will win Aiava a lot of matches over the course of her career, but the big question is how she handles the spotlight in the Melbourne sun in the first week of her first Grand Slam.
Prediction: Barthel in three sets
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