One of the highlight matches of the third round at the Australian Open will occur when sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas faces 32nd seed Milos Raonic to kick off the night session at Margaret Court Arena. A battle of former semifinalists in Melbourne, the winner of this match advances to the round of 16 to square off with 2018 finalist Marin Cilic or ninth seed Roberto Bautista Agut.
Tsitsipas looking to continue momentum from end of 2019
It was here last year that the Greek started his climb up the rankings, reaching the semifinals, defeating Roger Federer along the way. With wins in Marseille and Estoril, Tsitsipas rose into the top ten and he made the final in Beijing, losing to Dominic Thiem. He got revenge on the Austrian by edging him in the championship match of the ATP Finals.
He began 2020 by getting to the final in Abu Dhabi, falling to Rafael Nadal. In Melbourne, the sixth seed coasted past Italian Salvatore Caruso 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 in the first round. He received a walkover from Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second round after the German was forced to withdraw with a muscle strain.
Raonic seeking to score big win in continuing return from injuries
The Canadian is slowly working his way back to form after a series of injuries robbed him of much of the 2019 season. Raonic hadn't won back-to-back since Wimbledon last year until his first two victories in Melbourne. In the first round, the 32nd seed knocked out lucky loser Lorenzo Giustino 6-2, 6-1, 6-3. The second round saw Raonic blow away Cristian Garin 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to set up this match with Tsitsipas.
This is the first career meeting between Tsitsipas and Raonic.
Who will win?
This is a big opportunity for Raonic. He's had two very easy matches, looks healthy and has had a lot of success here in the past. The biggest advantage he has is (as usual against most opponents) is his serve, one of the best in tennis history.
The issue the Canadian will have is that Tsitsipas has the edge everywhere else. He has a better backhand, moves better, is in fine form and if can do a decent job on Raonic's serve, he'll neutralize the one big weapon the 32nd seed has.
While Raonic can also hit a pretty mean forehand, it's likely he won't be able to sustain the level he needs to play at for the entire match. If he isn't winning free points on his serve and is not dictating from the baseline, the Greek will run away with this one.
In the end, Raonic will win a set. His serve is too good to not carry him to that as Tsitsipas will crack at some point, but he's too good right now for the Canadian to overcome everything he has going against him. The 32nd seed will be heard from again, but it won't be in this match.
Prediction: Tsitsipas in four sets