WTA Yarra Valley Classic Day 1 Predictions Including Kristina Mladenovic vs Jessica Pegula

Kristina Mladenovic in action ahead of the WTA Yarra Valley Classic

With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic still restricting travel, the usual warm-up tournaments for the Australian Open have, in effect, been relocated to Melbourne Park. But whilst the WTA Yarra Valley Classic may lack a history, every player in the field will surely still be desperate for a deep run, with little time left to build match fitness before the first Major of the year. As ever, we here at LWOT will be offering our predictions, but who will reach the second round?

WTA Yarra Valley Classic Day One Predictions

Rebecca Peterson vs Maddison Inglis

Head-to-head: first meeting

Rebecca Peterson will almost certainly be even happier than most to see the back of 2020. The Swede, who excelled in 2019, breaking into the top 50 and winning two tour-level titles, endured a miserable season last year. Troubled by back problems, Peterson almost could not buy a win, with her current ranking of world #55 heavily inflated by the changes introduced by the WTA in the wake of the disruption caused by the pandemic.

However, she has been handed a relatively kind first-round draw at the WTA Yarra Valley Classic. The 23-year-old Maddison Inglis has relatively little tour-level experience and has never been ranked inside the world’s top 100. She does have a good record on home soil, with the Australian winning back-to-back ITF titles in Burnie and Perth last February, but if Peterson is able to rediscover something close to her best tennis, this is a match she should win.

Prediction: Peterson in 3
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Mayar Sherif vs Nina Stojanovic

Head-to-head: first meeting

Both Mayar Sherif and Nina Stojanovic have recorded some impressive wins over the last 18 months, without quite managing to find the consistency required to break into the higher echelons of the sport. However, the Egyptian Sherif may possess a crucial advantage heading into what looks like an evenly matched contest: match sharpness. Whilst Stojanovic has not played since losing in the first round at an ITF event in Macon in October, Sherif successfully negotiated the Australian Open qualifying, picking up wins over Akiko Omae, Grace Min and Aleksandra Krunic. Expect that to prove the difference.

Prediction: Sherif in 3
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Elisabetta Cocciaretto vs Zhu Lin

Head-to-head: first meeting

Elisabetta Cocciaretto is another player who will likely be heading into the first round of the WTA Yarra Valley Classic full of confidence having successfully qualified into the Australian Open main draw. The Italian booked her place amongst the 128 women set to feature at Melbourne Park for the second year in succession with victories over Gabriela Ce, Marie Benoit and Harmony Tan, winning all three matches in straight-sets.

Zhu Lin, meanwhile, had been out of action since March last year due to restrictions on travel imposed on Chinese players and was defeated on her return to professional tennis in the first round in Abu Dhabi by Ajla Tomljanovic, although she was competitive in a second set that was only decided by a tiebreak. Still, with Cocciaretto in such fine form and Zhu surely still someway short of her best after such a lengthy layoff, it is hard to see the Italian failing to make it four wins in four to start 2021.

Prediction: Cocciaretto in 2
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Kristina Mladenovic vs Jessica Pegula

Head-to-head: first meeting

It is hard to know what to make of Kristina Mladenovic’s career. She is certainly a more talented player than her ranking of world #50 and haul of one career title would suggest. The Frenchwoman has proved as much with her continued success on the doubles court, a discipline in which she has claimed 24 titles, including five Grand Slams. Now 27, with a fast-rising coterie of young stars, if Mladenovic is to make good on talents in singles, it will have to be sooner rather than later.

Jessica Pegula, meanwhile, impressed when the season resumed last summer, reaching the quarterfinals at the relocated Cincinnati Open and the third round at the US Open. But she was beaten soundly by Aryna Sabalenka in the first round at the French Open, winning just four games, before suffering another straight-sets defeat, this time at the hands of Elina Svitolina, in Abu Dhabi to start 2021. However, her solid game may give the too often wayward Mladenovic enough problems for the American to snap her two-match losing streak.

Prediction: Pegula in 3

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