No Serenity Here: Who will win the Australian Open?

Ana Ivanovic has sent shock waves through the tennis world.

The Serb came from a set down to topple the world number one Serena Williams 4-6 6-3 6-3 and in doing so has opened up the draw for her and other players. Ivanovic will face teenage wonder Eugenie Bouchard in the next round and this could be a potential banana skin since the Canadian knocked her out at Wimbledon last year and will be playing with the lack of pressure that youth can bring.

Whoever comes through that tussle will face yet another challenge. The other quarter of the top-side sees Li Na take on in form Flavia Pennetta. The thirty-one year old was expected to set up a mouthwatering semi-final with Serena but it has not been a comfy ride for Li. She was taken to a deciding round by Lucie Safarova in the third round but proved her worth by hammering Ekaterina Makarova in the fourth round. However, 28th seed Pennetta  has managed to slip under the radar as her low seed number has brought her little attention. It was only when she took to the Rod Laver arena for her fourth round match  that she started to turn heads. She was taking on Number nine Angelique Kerber of Germany who was widely expected to cruise into the next round. Flavia did not play to the script as she pulled off a 6-1 4-6 7-5 win in blistering heat. Now she is recreating the form that made her a top 10 player in years gone by and a surprise appearance in the Australian Open final is becoming increasingly likely. It remains unlikely. Li was a finalist last year and seems to have found her niche in Australia, she is the fourth seed and wants to prove the French open was not a fluke and so she should. I predict a Li win.

Eugenie Bouchard vs Ana Ivanovic should be a entertaining match with quality tennis throughout. Having said this Ana’s form has improved since their Wimbledon meeting, she is on top form and I see this as one step too far for the teenage starlet. Ivanovic should win it is unlikely to be plain sailing for her. This would see the top half have a semi-final of Ana Ivanovic against Na Li.

In the bottom half it gets interesting. The amount of quality means that it is now the harder side to get out of. The first match is quite an even affair. Simona Halep, the 11th seed, had a breakthrough year in 2013 and rose up the rankings. Jankovic had something of a comeback herself; finding her old form and she has risen to 8th in the rankings. Both have had relatively comfortable passages to the fourth round with Jankovic playing three Japanese women in a row. With this being quite a even match I predict that Jankovic’s  experience at the highest level will allow her to come through.

Domnika Cibulkova vs Maria Sharapova in a match of hard hitters. Cibulkova has steam rolled her opponents in getting to the fourth round  whilst in the second round Maria had an epic encounter with unseeded Karin Knapp in which after hours of play she won the third set 10-8 to secure a place in the third round. It should be a great match but Cibulkova goes after her shots and this could play into Sharapova’s hands if she can find a good level of consistency and a high first serve percentage. I predict a great match with shot making but the favourite, Sharapova, should prevail. Therefore I predict that the Quarter Final will be Sharapova vs Jankovic.

The biggest mismatch remaining in the Australian Open is the next match in this side of the draw. It pits Agnieszka radwanska against Garbine Muguruza. Muguruza had no impressive wins to her name until she played a superb match against Caroline Wozniacki and won in three sets. Even though she had that spectacular win Radwanska poses a new threat: a Wimbledon finalist playing some of the finest tennis of her career to date. She will be relatively fresh coming into this match and should record a comfortable win.

The last of the matches I must cover is a repeat of last year’s Semi-Final where Victoria Azarenka will tackle Sloane Stephens in what should be a match with many enthralling rallies. Azarenka has not been on top form as defending champion but has got through with ease. This is worrying for Stephens: if Azarenka finds form she will be unbeatable for most. The one positive for Stephens is that with Serena out the pressure is on Azarenka to perform and if she cracks under pressure Sloane has a chance to capitalize. Sloane was taken to three sets in the Second Round but should be fresh and ready for the match but it is incredibly unlikely that Azarenka won’t win.

So there it is, with the top half one day ahead I predict a Li vs Ivanovic Semi-Final. For the the bottom half I predict that Sharapova vs Jankovic and Azarenka against Radwanska will be the two encounters for the Quarter-Finals. Should my predictions hold true then we are in for even more excitement than we had in the early rounds.


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