Top seed Ashleigh Barty faces 18th seed Alison Riske in the Round of 16 at the Australian Open on Sunday evening at Rod Laver Arena. The Aussie is looking for her second straight quarterfinal appearance in Melbourne while the American seeks a second major quarterfinal in the last three Grand Slams.
Barty's road to the fourth round
The Aussie came into Melbourne fresh off of her first title at home in Adelaide and struggled early on in her first round match against Lesia Tsurenko before rebounding to win 5-7, 6-1, 6-1.
Barty looked much sharper in her next two matches, defeating Polona Hercog 6-1, 6-4 in the second round and 29th seed Elena Rybakina 6-3, 6-2 in round three.
Riske's road to the fourth round
After a quarterfinal showing in Brisbane, the American arrived at Melbourne Park with her highest seeding at a major in her career. She struggled in her first round match against Yafan Wang 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-3.
Riske had a much easier time with her second straight Chinese opponent, routing Lin Zhu 6-3, 6-1. In the third round, she came from behind to knock off Julia Goerges 1-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2 to earn a date with Barty.
The only other meeting between Barty and Riske occurred in this same round at Wimbledon last year with the American coming out on top 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Who will win?
Riske will come into this match confident. She's playing the best tennis of her career going back to 2019 and has improved her game tremendously off of grass. Her strokes aren't the prettiest, but they are very effective.
Barty possesses the type of game that can throw anyone off of their rhythm. Her serve is good enough to keep opponents honest, her movement is excellent and her backhand slice is one of the most effective shots in tennis.
The key for Riske will be to stay on Barty's forehand, take control of the baseline and get a lead, something she didn't do in her last match or in their Wimbledon meeting. Barty will want to move the American around and use her variety to spread the court
In the end, this will go three sets like their match at the All-England Club, but unlike that match, the Aussie should win. With seven wins a row, a title to her name and playing in front of her home crowd, Barty should have just enough to get over the line.
Prediction: Barty in three sets