There's plenty of action tomorrow with the start of AO qualifying as well as the semifinals in Sydney and quarters in Hobart. Unfortunately, I could only pick three to preview here. Please tell me about the matches that caught your eye.
WTA Match Day January 12, 2017
Best Tennis: #3 Agnieszka Radwanska vs. #19 Barbora Strycova (Sydney SF)
- Best Tennis. This match features players with the highest (i.e, lowest numerical) combined WTA rank. For example, #1 Angelique Kerber vs. #2 Serena Williams would have a combined rank of 3, which would obviously be the highest combined rank possible. In cases of a tie (e.g., #1 vs. #4 and #2 vs. #3), the match with the smallest difference in rankings will be previewed, as this match (on paper) should be closer.
- Points Defender. This match features the players with the most amount of ranking points to defend based on the live rankings provided by live-tennis.eu. In cases where this match has already been previewed under "Best Tennis," the match with the next highest amount of points to defend will be previewed.
- Eye Catcher. This match is simply one that caught my attention based on player histories, style of play, relative importance, or any other factors, and which does not fit into either of the other categories. If there's another match that caught your attention, please feel free to provide your own preview below.
It will be interesting to see if Strycova has anything left following her marathon win over Caroline Wozniacki in the SF (3 hrs, 21 min.!). Meanwhile, Radwanska was on court for just over an hour in her straight sets win over Duan Ying-Ying. Although this match is taking place just a few days before the start of the Australian Open, both ladies surely have their eyes on the title in Sydney now that they’ve reached the semis. Strycova has yet to beat Radwanska, but they played two epic matches in 2016 at the French Open and then again in Tokyo, with Radwanska eking out the win in both.
H2H: 6-0, with Radwanska winning most recently in Tokyo 6-3 3-6 7-5.
Prediction: Radwanska in 3.
Points Defender: #133 Richel Hogenkamp vs. #150 Mona Barthel (AO QR1)
Former WTA top 30 Barthel saw a steep drop in her ranking following four straight years finishing in the top 50 (career high #23 in March 2013). She ended 2016 at #183 following an injury-plagued and disappointing season. Barthel had a positive start to 2017 by qualifying for the main draw in Auckland before losing a tight three-setter to Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Now, she enters the Australian Open qualifying draw defending 59 points and has drawn a tough opponent in 15th seed Richel Hogenkamp, who is defending 12 points of her own and hopes to play in her second Australian Open main draw.
H2H: Barthel leads 1-0, winning way back in 2010 Kristienhamn (ITF) 7-6(6) 3-6 6-3.
Prediction: Barthel in 2.
Eye Catcher: #130 Natalia Vikhlyantseva vs. #227 Daniela Hantuchova (AO QR1)
Former WTA top 5 and AO semifinalist Daniela Hantuchova enters Australian Open qualifying hoping to play in her 17th consecutive main draw, which is remarkable and a testament to her longevity and consistency. She finished last year outside the top 100 for the first time since 2000. She faces rising teen Vikhlyantseva, who is seeded #13 in the qualifying draw and hopes to play in her first ever Grand Slam main draw.
Prediction: Hantuchova in 3 (purely a sentimental pick).