Fewer tournaments this week but still plenty of matches. Having seen most of the players already we have a little more idea of how they will perform. Match fitness will also be slightly improved.
In Sydney Safarova takes on Schiavone.
Safarova has won their last 3 matches although they haven’t played since 2012. Those 3 wins were all on hard courts. In fact all 5 of Safarova’s wons over the Italian were on hard courts and all 3 of Schiavone’s victories were on clay.
Both players had good seasons in 2013 although Schiavone had more bad performances than Safarova.
If Safarova’s serve is better than it was last week she has the stronger all round game for hard courts.
Last season Safarova lost in the first round in Sydney as well as in the first week of the season.
Schiavone played in Hobart last season but lost in the first round too so one of them will be improving on their 2013 start!
I am going with Safarova to win but if her serve is struggling in the early games Schiavone could be able to push her close.
Update: Both players struggled on serve but Safarova won 6-4, 6-4.
In Hobart Pennetta is back on court after her retirement from the Hopman Cup last week.
Pennetta is having problems with her wrist and as we are just a week from the Australian Open if she feels the injury again this week I doubt she will risk missing it.
Muguruza would have an excellent chance against her anyway and she won their only previous match which was in 2012 on a hard court.
Update: Pennetta withdrew before the match.
Pavlyuchenkova retired last week against Kerber. Today she takes on Alison Riske in Hobart.
Pavlyuchenkova is unlikely to risk aggravating the left thigh injury just before the Oz Open so I give Riske a decent chance of getting the win tonight. Her stats compare quite well over the last 6 months.
Pavlyuchenkova starts at around 1.70 .
Update: Riske won 6-3, 6-2.
Laura Robson withdrew from Auckland last week with a wrist injury. She told tournament organisers that she was about 95% recovered but needed another couple of days. If that is true she ought to be fit for tonight’s match.
Wickmayer lost her first match of the season. After a good couple of games she fell apart and didn’t win a single game in the second set.
They have only played once before which was in 2010. Wickmayer won that in straight sets in Birmigham on grass.
Both these players can produce shockingly poor performances at times but I feel if Robson plays anywhere near her best she will take this one. Wickmayer’s confidence must be in tatters after her pathetic outing last week.
I will go for part stake on Robson from the start while I take a look at how she is playing.
Update: Robson retired in the second set after winning set 1. Wickmayer won 4-6, 2-0(ret)
Meusburger has made a decent start to the season. She beat Barthel and took Venus Williams to 3 sets.
Zakopalova started with a win over Vekic before losing to Mayr Achleitner.
Their stats are quite similar but for me Meusburger has the edge. I won’t be backing her below evens though. Expect a match with a lot of breaks.
Update: Meusburger served for the opening set but Zakopalova won 7-5, 6-2.
Julia Goerges retired from her qualification round match knowing that she had a lucky loser spot in the main draw. She retired with a leg injury. I have heard of a 24 hour virus but not a 24 hour leg injury(at least not one that was serious enough to force her to retire). It does make a farce of the rules even if her injury is genuine.
Hopefully Wozniacki puts her out of her misery.
Update: Wozniacki won 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.