The opening match of the night session on the Rod Laver Arena sees 22nd seed, and home favorite, Daria Gavrilova take on 12th seed Timea Bacsinszky for a place in the fourth round of the Australian Open.
Gavrilova has won both their previous meetings, the latest being a three-set victory at the China Open last year, though has the pressure of defending her fourth round points from last year and of her home crowd, whilst Bacsinszky has already improved on 2016’s second round loss in Melbourne.
The winner of this match will face fifth seed Karolina Pliskova or the unseeded Jelena Ostapenko in the fourth round.
So far in Melbourne
Neither of the two has had easy matches to get to this stage, though it is the 12th seed who has been the slightly more comfortable of the two so far.
Bacsinszky, who hadn’t played in 2017 before the tournament, opened against the very dangerous Camila Giorgi, battling past the Italian 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in a tight match. The Swiss found things a bit easier in her second round, however, seeing off Danka Kovinic 6-1, 7-6, and seems to be rounding into form nicely in her opening tournament of the year.
Neither of Gavrilova’s matches have been easy so far. The Australian faced good friend Naomi Broady in the first round, coming from a set down to battle past the Brit 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 in a thrilling contest. Her second round match went to three sets as well, but the 22nd seed survived a second set blip to defeat Ana Konjuh 6-2, 1-6, 6-4; she’ll be confident after edging two tight matches.
One problem for Gavrilova tends to be that she doesn’t have the power to dominate rallies, though the fact that Bacsinszky isn’t too powerful herself means that this shouldn’t be too much of a problem in this match. Also, despite two tight matches the Australian should have plenty of energy due to her athleticism and should look to use her strong movement to stay in rallies and try to frustrate her opponent. However, the 22nd seed can be erratic and must not make too many errors, especially against a typically consistent opponent like the Swiss; Gavrilova also must remain calm, as she can become flustered and frustrated.
Bacsinszky will not be able to overpower Gavrilova and will have to be prepared for several long rallies, though is usually consistent enough for this not to be a problem. The 12th seed must be prepared for Gavrilova to be aggressive and try to win points early, so should look to match that by using her backhand, her strongest shot, to counteract the Australian and try to take control. Like her opponent, the Swiss is also a good mover so should try to frustrate Gavrilova by consistently getting shots back. However, she cannot afford to give many cheap points away; Gavrilova, in front of her home crowd, will feed off the atmosphere and could punish her if she does.
Though neither of the two are the biggest stars in Tennis, this has the makings of a night session classic, especially considering this will be the first time the Australian has played on Rod Laver Arena this tournament. This should be extremely tight, with neither likely to give too much away, but it seems that being slightly more aggressive, and home advantage, could pull Gavrilova to victory.
Prediction: Daria Gavrilova in three sets