In honor of our pick to win the Men’s Title, we call today’s 4 featured matches, “The Warrior Class” because that is the mindset needed to advance!
This matchup between malcontents might not only be loud but contentious. Stephens tends to try to intimidate her opponents, a strategy that backfired last year when she disappeared off the screen, like her first round opponent, the former world number 1, Ms. Azarenka, queen of the grunters. This is the women’s match of the day with powerful ground strokes and string personalities son both sides of the net. Victoria is a two-time winner here, but is she ready? Stephens has started the year with two losses and there is little reason give her the edge but she is quick and if the American gets the scent of a win might return to form. This is a tough one but we give the nod to Stephens in a major, three set upset.
The home court crowd advantage served Australians well on day one and success is likely to repeat today. Boisterous crowds like their powerful, hard-serving Samantha whose forehand will pose problems for fleet-footed Niculescu. Not long ago, Stosur was favored to win this event. The 27-year old Romanian reached the 3rd round in Melbourne last year for her “best-ever” Grand Slam tournament. But, look for Samantha to take charge midway through set one and not look back. This will be a loud one!
After his runner-up finish at the US Open, our pick to win the 2015 Australian Open title won’t surprise too many opponents or bettors but his endurance and stamina are startling and imposing. The five seed did not draw the easiest first round opponent in veteran battler Nicolas Almagro, one of Spain’s elite corps of racquet experts. The Spaniard has amassed more than $9 million in career earnings and is viewed as a player people would rather not play in the dead of Australia summer. We like Nishikori to prevail in what might be an entertaining encounter between the wily Almagro and the elite, speedy warrior, Nishikori. Watch Kei’s serve, which will be the difference maker in this one.
Always the underdog, Robin Haase of the Netherlands likes to go the distance. With more than $4 million in career earnings, Robin cannot be taken lightly and if one characteristic typifies the career of France’s Gilles Simon, it is losing matches he is supposed to win. With $9 million in earnings and due to reaching the third round here last year, Simon is heavily favored. We are going with the favorite but are raising a yellow caution flag. If you like odds, Haase might be your play of the day, especially if he can keep Simon on the court. Simon in five but the underdog might be the better wager.