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PREVIEW: 2024 Women’s Australian Open – Selected second-round matches – 18 January

The Women’s draw of the Australian Open throws up a few fascinating second round fixutres. First seed Iga Swiatek faces Danielle Collins and Darie Kasatkina takes on Sloane Stephens. Damien Kayat previews.

Iga Swiatek - Australian Open

The Women’s draw of the Australian Open throws up a few fascinating second round fixutres. First seed Iga Swiatek faces Danielle Collins and Darie Kasatkina takes on Sloane Stephens. Damien Kayat previews.

Jamie Moore's Diary - jockey talks Goshen and Ascot rides

2024 WTA Tour
Grand Slam Tennis
Aussie Open
Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia
Selected 2nd Round Matches- 18th January

Iga Swiatek 1/16 | Danielle Collins 8/1

This promises to be a blockbuster second-round clash between two of the hardest hitters on the WTA Tour. Both of these players actually had to overcome former Aussie Open champions in their respective openers.

World No.1 Iga Swiatek held off a spirited first-set onslaught from American Sofia Kenin. She actually had to dig deep to break Kenin when the American was serving for the set at 5-4. But she went on to dominate the tiebreak and she really started to flex her muscles in the second.

The Pole ultimately hit 30 winners to just 21 unforced errors and she will be pleased with the way she grew into that match. A semi-finalist here back in 2022, Swiatek will be looking to cement her status as the world’s best player this fortnight.

She has caught a pretty sickening draw whilst the likes of Gauff and Sabalenka face minimal resistance in the opening rounds. Next up for the Pole will be 2022 Aussie Open finalist Danielle Collins.

Combustible American Danielle Collins is coming off a largely forgettable 2023 campaign. In fact, her 2022 Aussie Open final defeat was the last time she participated in a WTA Final. In fact, her most memorable moment from last year was that ugly incident with Maria Sakkari at the Canadian Open.

That verbal altercation extended into the social media space and Collins didn’t exactly cover herself in glory. Still, she is a ferocious hitter and she just overcame former Aussie Open champ Angelique Kerber in a seesaw three-set affair.

Collins took the first set before the German lefty clawed her way back into the match in the second. But Collins was emphatic in the third, quickly dispelling any notion of a Kerber comeback. She ultimately hit 46 winners to 41 unforced errors in a typically mercurial display.

Verdict: Swiatek to win in three at 7/2

Swiatek holds a commanding 5-1 head-to-head advantage over the American. She actually beat the American three times last season. But Collins’ only victory against the Pole came in the semi-final here in 2022. Collins is made for these quick surfaces and she can actually go toe to toe with Swiatek from the baseline. But I am slightly concerned with the fact that Collins only won 29% of her second-serve points against Kerber. Swiatek will absolutely feast on that. I think there’s value in Collins possibly nicking a set but Swiatek’s relentless returning pressure could prove the difference.

Daria Kasatkina 5/8 | Sloane Stephens 5/4

This could be a really fascinating clash between two talented players who are perhaps not best suited to these conditions. Both of these players prefer slower conditions where they are able to utilise their variety.

Russian Daria Kasatkina is certainly the form player coming into this one. She enjoyed a largely underwhelming 2023 campaign. Still, she did manage to reach WTA 500 finals in Adelaide and Eastbourne. She also ended the Major season with a creditable fourth round run at the US Open.

And she has enjoyed a really encouraging start to her 2024 season, reaching the quarter-finals in Brisbane before taking advantage of two walkovers to reach another Adelaide final. She had to dig deep in her opener against gritty American Payton Stearns.

She couldn’t really get any momentum on her service but she did manage to break the American five out of nine times in the match. Kasatkina is an excellent returner who will look to put pressure on the Stephens serve at every opportunity.

2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens has often been criticised for her slightly lackadaisical approach to training over the years. I do feel that the she hasn’t really fulfilled her massive potential. Just look at her performance in this event.

She reached the semi-finals here in 2013 but this is the first time in four years that she has progressed beyond the first round here. And she started this season in pretty uninspiring fashion after early exits in Brisbane and Hobart.

She swept past Aussie youngster Olivia Gadecki in her opener and she will hopefully have drawn plenty of confidence of that. Stephens served really well in the match, winning 75% of her first-serve points. She also looked decisive on return, breaking the Aussie in five games out of eight.

Look for that to be a theme in this match: the server may turn out to be the more vulnerable player throughout.

Verdict: Kasatkina to win in three sets at 12/5

Stephens leads the head-to-head with the Russian 3-1. This will be a fascinating tactical battle between two defensively-minded players. I think there will be a slew of extended rallies and it should make for great viewing. I just think that Kasatkina is slightly more aggressive and that could be the decisive factor in this match.

Jamie Moore's Diary - jockey talks Goshen and Ascot rides
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