Australian Open Day 1 Women’s Predictions–Including Sloane Stephens vs Taylor Townsend

The 2019 Grand Slam season of tennis is upon us. After a few weeks of exhibitions and smaller tournaments, players are ready to fight for the first Major of the season. Tennis fans around the world will live on Melbourne time for the next two weeks at the Australian Open. Us at LWOT will be here with you, predicting matches daily. We’re predicting the best five women’s matches, including the all-American battle of Sloane Stephens vs Taylor Townsend. Predicting today’s matches are myself (Yesh Ginsburg), Tracey Essex, Steen Kirby, and Eric Han.

Australian Open Day 1 Women’s Predictions

Kimberly Birrell vs Paula Badosa Gilbert

Tracey:
With both 21-year-olds far outside the Top 100, you might not expect much from this match. But, a strong start to 2019 is what one of these two young ladies will need to start their rankings climb. Definitely not a match on most people’s mind, it will definitely be one worth watching. The Aussie, Birrell, will want a first round win in front of the hometown crowd and Badosa Gilbert wants to gain some momentum and break into the Top 100. It will be a contest forsure, but Badosa Gilbert will prevail.
Prediction: Badosa Gilbert in 3

Steen:
This is a tough matchup to call since neither player has significant experience at this level. I’ll go with the home pick though.
Prediction: Birrell in 3

Eric:
Both players are relatively unknown to the common tennis fan. Both players are playing in their first Grand Slam tournaments and no doubt there will be nerves in both of them. Badosa Gibert came through by qualifying so will already have some match play experience under her belt. Birrell, being Australian, is appearing in this draw courtesy of a wild card, but will have the home crowd support from the Aussie Fanatics. I do think Badosa Gibert will pull through this match simply because she has already played some matches in the qualifying stages. We see time after time, the qualifiers being able to produce upsets or big results in Grand Slams, simply because of their earlier match experience.
Prediction: Badosa Gibert in 3

Yesh:
Kimberly Birrell has become a bit of a sensation at the start of the 2019 season. She got a good draw here in Melbourne, and should keep her story going a little longer.
Prediction: Birrell in 2
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Julia Goerges vs Danielle Collins

Tracey:
It will be a tough task for the feisty Collins to find her way through the recently crowned ASB Classic champion, Julia Goerges. Powerful groundstrokes and good court coverage are assured, but if the WTA ace leader’s serve is on, Goerges should prove impossible to beat. I don’t underestimate Collins – we’ve seen her beat top players. Kvitova’s recent meetup with Collins in Brisbane was anything but an easy win. Still, given Goerges’ confidence, she should find a way through, taking out Collins in three sets.
Prediction: Goerges in 3

Steen:
Fatigue could harm Georges’ chances but her form and ability are a level above Collins right now.
Prediction: Georges in 2

Eric:
Georges defended her title in Auckland last week, thus undoubtedly she will be high confidence in her game at the moment. I do expect the big-serving German to win comfortably here and even possibly progress to the second week of the tournament.
Prediction: Goerges in 2

Yesh:
Collins made her break out in Miami last year. She’s still capable of beating anyone on any day, but Goerges is way too good right now.
Prediction: Goerges in 2
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Monica Niculescu vs Amanda Anisimova

Tracey:
Contrasting styles will be hallmark of this match. A tricky and unique slice forehand is Niculescu’s true weapon. This style of play left Anisimova reeling last year in Hiroshima when Su-Wei Hsieh wielded this tactic. Anisimova, the young and powerful American, will struggle against Niculescu’s versatility. But she’ll have an advantage – her power on these fast courts. It may take a set to get her footing, but Anisimova’s athleticism and power will push her past Niculescu.
Prediction: Anisimova in 3

Steen:
Niculescu matches are popcorn tennis and she’s tough to play against but Anismova’s form probably sees her through.
Prediction: Anisimova in 3
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Eric:
Niculescu is a tricky player to deal with as she utilises a variety of spin in her game. However, the only 17-year-old American, has proved to everyone that she can compete and reached a WTA final last year. Niculescu does have more experience and this might get her over the finish line, but it will be a tricky and tough match.
Prediction: Niculescu in 3

Yesh:
Anisimova has huge potential and huge power, but this is not the matchup for her. She needs much more experience to deal with players who can slice and add some all-court variety. In three years she’ll dominate this matchup, but for now she won’t
Prediction: Niculescu in 2
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Kristina Mladenovic vs Donna Vekic

Tracey:
After reaching the semifinals at Brisbane International last week, Donna Vekic will arrive at the Australian Open confident and playing to win. The 22-year-old Croatian has reached a career high of world #29 and will likely make her run into the second week. While Mladenovic is never an easy opponent, Vekic’s drive and talent will carry her through this matchup.
Prediction: Vekic in 2

Steen:
Mladenovic has struggled to start the year, Vekic has not. This won’t be close.
Prediction: Vekic in 2

Eric:
Mladenovic struggled in her singles game last season and lost in the first round last week in Sydney. Even though their head-to-head is in Mladenovic’s favour by 2-0, both meetings were back in 2014, and Vekic is currently the more consistent player at the moment.
Prediction: Vekic in 3

Yesh:
Mladenovic’s form has fallen off a ton over the last year, and Vekic is rounding into the best form of her career. I expect big things from Vekic moving forward, and it will show in this match.
Prediction: Vekic in 2
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Sloane Stephens vs Taylor Townsend

Tracey:
Who will win this matchup? Well, it really depends on which Sloane Stephens shows up. What should have been a certain win saw Stephens exited in her Brisbane opener. If Stephens is inconsistent or disengaged, Townsend will certainly try to take advantage. But, on this big of a venue, I can’t imagine Sloane not showing up to play … and to win. This is really Sloane’s match to win or lose and I think she’ll clear out the disappointment of Brisbane and return to the pure ball-striking which propelled her to a Grand Slam champion.
Prediction: Stephens in 2

Steen:
Townsend’s hard court record isn’t the best and Stephens is ranked well above her. An upset would come as a surprise.
Prediction: Stephens in 2

Eric:
This will be the first meeting between these two young American players, and may possibly to a future rivalry in the future. Both Stephens and Townsend are not in their best form at the moment, but Stephens is a former Grand Slam champion, so will have more experience on how to deal with the big points, and will pull her through.
Prediction: Stephens in 2

Yesh:
Stephens has been in quite the funk recently. She has a tendency to do this sometimes, but she’s also capable of breaking out of it in an instant. This match will entirely be on her racket. Townsend has huge potential, but she hasn’t reached it yet. If Stephens is dialed in, she’ll win. If not, she’ll lose. That’s the whole story here.
Prediction: Stephens in 2

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