Australian Open quarterfinal predictions: Rybakina vs. Ostapenko, Pegula vs. Azarenka


Two women’s singles quarterfinals in the top half of the draw are scheduled for Tuesday, January 24. WTA results are always unpredictable and we often have surprise champions, but let’s try to preview the upcoming matches and pick the favorites.

Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan

Elena Rybakina [22] vs. Jelena Ostapenko [17]

The first women’s singles quarterfinal will be contested between players who have reached this stage at the Australian Open for the first time. However, both have won Grand Slams, although not on hard courts. Elena Rybakina’s triumph at a major was more recent, at Wimbledon 2022, while Jelena Ostapenko won Roland Garros in 2017.

In the third round, the 25th-ranked Rybakina eliminated last year’s Australian Open runner-up Danielle Collins and then recorded her first win over a reigning WTA world No.1 by taking out Iga Swiatek in the round of 16. The biggest name Ostapenko faced was world No.7 Coco Gauff in the previous round.

The average rank of Ostapenko’s opponents was much lower than Rybakina’s (71 to 41) and the Latvian spent 32 minutes more on the court than the Kazakh. However, they have both dropped 30 games en route to the final eight.

Both Rybakina and Ostapenko have won titles on hard courts. Rybakina triumphed in Australia, at the 2020 Hobart International, while Ostapenko lifted trophies at 2017 Seoul, 2019 Luxembourg (indoor), and 2022 Dubai.

When it comes to their career meetings, Ostapenko leads 2-0, having defeated Rybakina in straight sets at 2019 Linz and 2021 Eastbourne.

Prediction: Elena Rybakina has the edge.

Even though Ostapenko leads their head-to-head, their last meeting was before Rybakina became a Grand Slam champion.

The 23-year-old Rybakina, the youngest of all quarterfinalists, has a big first serve that gives her immediate advantage in points. Her 24 aces so far at the tournament put her just behind Karolina Pliskova when it comes to ace leaders among WTA quarterfinalists. In all her matches this fortnight in Melbourne, Rybakina has won more than 75% of her first-serve points. Remember, against Switek she lost just six points on her first serve, and overall she has dropped serve just six times in four matches at the 2023 Australian Open.

At the moment, it looks like Rybakina is more reliable and fitter player than Ostapenko. Morever, she overcame bigger names en route to the quarterfinals.

Jessica Pegula WTA Finals

Jessica Pegula [3] vs. Victoria Azarenka [24]

Jessica Pegula has advanced to the Australian Open quarterfinals for the third year in a row, but is bidding to reach her maiden major semifinals. On the other hand, Victoria Azarenka won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, being the last woman to defend her title in Melbourne. The 33-year-old Azarenka, the oldest player among quarterfinalists, is contesting her sixth Australian Open quarterfinal, 13 years after her first and seven years after her most recent.

The world No.3 Pegula dropped just 18 games en route to this stage, fewer than any other player left in the draw. Moreover, the American spent five hours and 16 minutes on court in her first four matches, far less time than her upcoming opponent who needed seven hours and 20 minutes to reach the final eight.

Prediction: Jessica Pegula is the favorite.

Azarenka had an extremely hard fourth-round match against Zhu Lin, as she fought past 2 a.m. to prevail in three sets. It looks like Pegula should have the edge here, but we expect an entertaining match out of this high-profile clash.

Note that their head-to-head stands at 2-2, with Pegula winning their one encounter at the Australian Open, two years ago in the first round. The American also won their most meeting, in the semifinals on the hard courts of Guadalajara, as she went all the way to the WTA 1000 title.

Do you agree with my predictions? Tell me your analysis and picks in the comments.

Bottom-half women’s singles quarterfinal predictions: Karolina Pliskova [30] vs. Magda Linette and Aryna Sabalenka [5] vs. Donna Vekic.


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