Australian Open 2024: Popcorn matches from the women’s singles draw
The Australian Open women’s singles draw certainly did not disappoint, with the likes of Iga Swiatek, Naomi Osaka, Elena Rybakina and others featuring in some eye-catching first round matchups!
And we, at Tennishead, have detailed five of those for you:
Iga Swiatek (1) vs Sofia Kenin
World No.1 Iga Swiatek is heading into the first major of 2024 in sensational form, having won all five of her singles matches at the United Cup.
However, she has been thrown a bit of an obstacle in the way in the form of Sofia Kenin, who won the Australian Open back in 2020.
It has not been plain-sailing for Kenin since her success in Melbourne, but some positive results at the back-end of last year have enabled the American to move back inside the top 40.
Kenin has not surpassed the second round of the Melbourne major since her run to the title, and looks to be up against it with her draw against the best player in the world.
However, the 25-year-old does seem to save her best tennis against the top players, having beaten both Aryna Sabalenka and Coco Gauff in 2023.
These pair have played only once before, in just the small matter of the 2020 Roland Garros final, where Swiatek won her first Grand Slam title.
Tennishead’s Prediction: Iga Swiatek to win in straight sets.
Angelique Kerber vs Danielle Collins
The winner of Swiatek vs Kenin will play the victor of the next popcorn match, in a battle of former Australian Open champion and runner-up.
Angelique Kerber made her return last week, after giving birth to her first child, as part of Germany’s winning United Cup team.
— United Cup (@UnitedCupTennis) January 7, 2024
Although the 35-year-old only won one match at the mixed team event, there were some positive signs as she looks to get match fit once again.
The 2016 Australian Open champion will have to be on top form come the first round though, as she plays the always feisty Danielle Collins.
Collins achieved her best result at the Australian Open two years ago, when she reached her first major final and just lost out to Ash Barty.
There has not been as much success since for the American, having fallen outside the top 50, but on her day Collins can be a match for anyone.
Both previous meetings have been very one-sided, with Kerber and Collins getting a win apiece, and their most recent came at the 2019 Australian Open with the American taking the victory.
Tennishead’s Prediction: Danielle Collins to win in three sets.
Caroline Garcia (16) vs Naomi Osaka
There are going to be several returning faces at the Australian Open this year, with Naomi Osaka perhaps the most anticipated of those.
Osaka is a two-time champion in Melbourne, but has only played two matches since giving birth to her daughter, Shai, back in July 2023.
The former No.1 will play 16th seed Caroline Garcia in the first round, who equalled her best performance at the Australian Open last year by reaching the fourth round.
Garcia has played six singles matches to kick-off her 2024 season, with her only defeats coming to Swiatek and Jelena Ostapenko.
In their only previous meeting, Osaka beat Garcia in straight sets en route to lifting her second Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup.
Tennishead’s Prediction: Caroline Garcia to win in three sets.
Elena Rybakina (3) vs Karolina Pliskova
It will be a battle of hard-hitting big servers when third seed Elena Rybakina comes up against former world No.1 Karolina Pliskova in the first round.
Rybakina nearly became a two-time Grand Slam champion in Melbourne last year, narrowly losing a sensational Australian Open final to Aryna Sabalenka.
However, the Kazakhstani appears to be arriving down under in good form once again, having beat the aforementioned Sabalenka to win the Brisbane International title in dominant fashion.
— Brisbane International (@BrisbaneTennis) January 8, 2024
Pliskova has struggled for recent form, but did reach the quarter-finals at the Australian Open last year and was a semi-finalist back in 2019.
The Czech will be hoping for a change in fortune against her opponent though, as she has never even won a set against Rybakina in their three previous meetings.
Tennishead’s Prediction: Elena Rybakina to win in straight sets.
Victoria Azarenka (18) vs Camila Giorgi
It will be a fifth time meeting when two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka takes on the always unpredictable Camila Giorgi.
Azarenka returned to the semi-finals in Melbourne last year and has already made a positive start to her season in 2024, reaching the semi-final of the WTA 500 event in Brisbane.
Things are not going quite so swimmingly for Giorgi, with the Italian winning only one of her three matches so far this season.
The 32-year-old will be hoping to turn the tide in her form, as she looks to improve on her previous best Australian Open result of reaching the third round.
Azarenka and Giorgi have both won two apiece in their previous meetings, with the Belarusian claiming victory in the two most recent.
Tennishead’s Prediction: Victoria Azarenka to win in straight sets.
Not only are there the five incredible popcorn matches that we have listed, but there are also some other fascinating first round contests that did not make the cut:
- Magda Linette (20) vs Caroline Wozniacki
- Liudmila Samsonova (13) vs Amanda Anisimova
- Donna Vekic (21) vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
- Paula Badosa vs Taylor Townsend
- Emma Raducanu vs Shelby Rogers
- Marie Bouzkova (31) vs Linda Noskova
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