Will world No. 3 Naomi Osaka beat back all challengers to retain the Australian Open title she won a year ago? Could current world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty claim her second grand slam title after rising to the top of the women’s game last year? Could world No.2 Karolina Pliskova make the slam breakthrough tennis fans and expert have been predicting for her for years now or could the incomparable Serena Williams win her seventh Aussie Open title after taking home her first title in three years to kick off 2020? Last, but certainly not least, could the widely popular Coco Gauff take out the legendary Venus Williams when they stage their second, first round grand slam meeting in as many years? With the 2020 Australian Open set to get underway on Monday, January 20, it’s time to take a look at a handful of matches that all have the look of value-packed opening round must-see matchups. Now, let’s get started.
2020 Australian Open Women’s Round 1 Betting Preview & Predictions
No. 1 Ashleigh Barty vs. Lesia Tsurenko
While the unheralded Lesia Tsurenko has taken two of four career matches against world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, including their most recent meeting in Brisbane in 2018, Barty has since taken her game to an entirely new level. Barty won her first grand slam title by winning the French Open in 2019, while also taking home the year-end title at the WTA Tour Finals. Tsurenko got knocked out of the first round at Shenzen while Barty fell to Jennifer Brady in her first match at Brisbane. Still, I’m expecting Barty to get her act together to get past Tsurenko in this opener – though it will take three sets to get it done!
Pick: Ashleigh Barty 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
No. 2 Karolina Pliskova vs. Kristina Mladenovic
World No. 39 Kristina Mladenovic split two qualifying round matches at Brisbane, but got dominated in her 6-1,6-4 Q2 loss to Liudmila Samsonova. While the 26-year-old Mladenovic won the last meeting against Pliskova in straight sets in Dubai in 2017, the world No. 2 is looking good coming into this year’s Aussie Open after taking the title at Brisbane last week.
Pick: Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 6-4
No. 3 Naomi Osaka vs. Marie Bouzkova
The reigning champ, Naomi Osaka enters this year’s first grand slam event fresh off a run to the finals in Brisbane where she fell to Karolina Pliskova in three sets. The unheralded Marie Bouzková qualified for the Brisbane International but was bounced in the opening round by Madison Keys. While these two have never met, Osaka is the ‘super easy’ pick to win her opening round match – without dropping a set against the talented, but inexperienced Bouzkova.
Pick: Naomi Osaka 6-3, 6-2
No. 8 Serena Williams vs. Anastasia Potapova
18-year-old Anastasia Potapova is undoubtedly one of the ‘hottest’ players on the WTA Tour, but the young Russian is nowhere near ready to pull off the huge upset over the legendary Serena Williams in this opening round matchup. Williams enters this year’s first grand slam fresh off her first title in three years by taking home the hardware at Auckland. Potapova failed to qualify for the main draw at both, Adelaide and Brisbane. Williams is highly motivated to tie Margaret Court for the all-time lead in grand slam victories (24) and that means this one will be over with in a hurry.
Pick: Serena Williams 6-3, 6-3
Coco Gauff vs. Venus Williams
She might be ranked 66th in the world, but still, 15-year-old Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff is clearly the future of women’s tennis. Gauff won her opening round match at Auckland before falling to Laura Siegmund in three sets in her second match. 39-year-old world No. 55 Venus Williams will be making her 2020 debut in this match after closing out 2019 by losing four of her final five matches. While Williams also suffered a stunning 6-4, 6-4 loss to Gauff in the first round of Wimbledon in 2019, I’m banking on experience and a high level of motivation to be the deciding factors that help the two-time Aussie Open finalist (2003, 2017) get over the finish line in a three-set thriller.
Pick: Venus Williams 6-4, 3-6, 7-5