Australian Open women’s singles round 3: Serena will check teenage talent
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | January 21, 2016
2016 Australian Open
- Women’s singles round three
- Friday, January 22nd
- Play scheduled to start: 00:00 GMT
- Melbourne Park, Melbourne
- Live on Eurosport 1 and 2
Serena set to come through Kasatkina clash
Defending Australian Open champion Serena Williams (2/1 outright favourite with Coral to retain this Grand Slam crown) was once the new kid on the block, but she will have no sympathy for Russian teenager Daria Kasatkina, who is the women’s singles third round opponent of the all-time tennis great.
An overwhelming odds-on 1/20 favourite for victory, Serena should make short shrift of 18-year-old Kasatkina in their first-ever encounter, and Williams is better at 1/5 to continue her record of not dropping a set in Melbourne this year.
Considerable 9/1 match outsider Kasatkina has done incredibly well to have eliminated Slovakia’s Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (the 27th seed) and fellow highly-rated youngster Ana Konjuh from Croatia, but her momentum should be checked by the power of sensational Serena.
Seeds Sharapova and Radwanska look banker bets
Almost 100 places in the WTA World Rankings separated 2008 Australian Open champion Maria Sharapova and the USA’s Lauren Davis before the tournament began, and that gulf is a huge one for the youngster to bridge.
Sharapova is a very strong 1/33 to win her maiden encounter with Davis (11/1 for another upset), who did for 26th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova before following up by beating Magdalena Rybarikova.
Women’s world number four Agnieszka Radwanska has a Puerto Rican opponent in the last 32 in Monica Puig. This is also a first-ever fixture between these two, and the class of Polish player Radwanska should tell with her at 1/10 to take the match and 1/3 to do so 2-0.
Bencic to win Bondarenko battle
Switzerland’s most promising prospect is Belinda Bencic, and the teenage talent takes on experienced Ukraninian pro Kateryna Bondarenko for the first time.
A potential clash with Sharapova in the last 16 awaits the winner, and the prospect of odds-on 2/9 third round match favourite Bencic having to face the Russian could be one of the games of this year’s Australian Open.
Beguiling Bencic is better at 4/6 to beat Bondarenko in straight sets, with the latter a 10/3 outsider to triumph over her young opponent.
Gavrilova an even chance in Mladenovic match
An even-money price on Russia-born Australian representative Daria Gavrilova getting the better of number 28 seed Kristian Mladenovic also appeals.
Like the above matches, this is the first encounter between two young women who are expected to kick on and challenge at the business end of Grand Slams in the coming years.
Mladenovic may be a false favourite, albeit a narrow one, at 4/5, as Gavrilova dumped two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova out in round two.
For Melbourne resident Gavrilova to repeat that straight sets success here, punters can get a nifty 9/4 price that is begging to be snapped up.