2022 Australian Open third round preview: Victoria Azarenka vs Elina Svitolina
Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

A mammoth clash kicks off the third round at the 2022 Australian Open as 24th seed Victoria Azarenka takes on 15th seed Elina Svitolina.

Azarenka has looked sharp through the first two rounds, dismissing Panna Udvardy 6-3, 6-1 and Jil Teichmann 6-1, 6-2 while Svitolina has knocked out two Frenchwomen in Fiona Ferro and Harmony Tan.​​​​​​​

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This is the fifth career meeting between the Belarusian and Ukrainian with Azarenka having won all four previous encounters, the last a convincing 6-2, 6-4 win in the quarterfinals of the 2021 Qatar Open.

The match will kick off the day session on Rod Laver Arena with the winner facing either fourth seed Barbora Krejcikova or 26th seed Jelena Ostapenko.

Analysis

Svitolina will want to pick on the Azarenka forehand as it's the side that can break down first. The Ukrainian also has the edge in movement as she is one of the very best in positioning herself around the baseline.

Where Svitolina gets hurt is if she can be overpowered and while there are bigger hitters on tour, Azarenka has plenty of zip on her groundstrokes, especially on her backhand, which is one of the very best in the world.

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The second serve of the Ukrainian is also very poor. The 24th seed will want to step inside the baseline and take the ball early to dictate the rallies and be on the front foot. Neither player is proficient at the net.

Prediction

On paper, this appears to be a very close matchup. Both players want to play from the baseline, get on top of the rallies (despite going about it in very different ways) and are on their best surface.

Where Azarenka holds the edge is in the intangibles. She's a two-time champion in Melbourne Park and has, as mentioned above, never lost to Svitolina. 

I think the Belarusian will display some of her very best tennis on this big occasion and take advantage of the weak Svitolina serve to reach the Round of 16.

Prediction: Victoria Azarenka in three sets

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