The Weekend Post : 2019-01-12

Sport : 51 : 51


SPORT 51 CAIRNSPOST.COM.AU SATURDAY JANUARY 12 2019 MATCHES NOT TO MISS LEO SCHLINK (Rom) (Est) Halep’s glorious 2018 grand slam season came to an abrupt end in the first round of the US Open when she was rolled by Kanepi. Expect a powerful response from the world No.1. Nick Kyrgios 16-Milos Raonic (Aus) (Can) v The head-to-head ledger stands at 3-3, with Raonic holding a 2-1 edge in grand slams. Kyrgios is the underdog in the battle of the big servers. This is a blockbuster with a string of sub-plots. Maria Sakkari v 22-Jelena Ostapenko (Gre) (Lat) Sakkari is one of the most consistent shotmakers on tour. French Open winner Ostapenko is among the most unpredictable. Expect the unexpected. 5-Sloane Stephens v Taylor Townsend (US) (US) The Americans have never met in either WTA or grand slam combat. US Open winner Stephens should come out on top, but… 6-Marin Cilic v Bernard Tomic (Cro) (Aus) Cilic contested the final here last year but will be wary of Tomic after the Australian won their most recent meeting. Tomic will need to be at his mesmeric best to unhinge the US Open winner. JAMIE PANDARAM Andy Murray v 22-R Bautista Agut (Sco) (Spa) SHE’S a proud Aboriginal, the rising superstar of tennis, who wakes at all hours of the night on tour to watch her beloved AFL team Richmond play. Ashleigh Barty will be Australia’s darling at the Australian Open next week, but at heart she believes she is “a pretty simple chick”. “I go out there and do the best I can, try to give it a crack, and try to be the best version of myself I can be,” Barty said. Her best friend, former tennis star Casey Dellacqua, recalls Barty frantically trying to get her internet access to work in China as the Tigers won the 2017 premiership flag. “I’ll always remember her If Murray can battle through the pain, he could yet be a dangerous floater in this year’s draw. Bautista Agut is flying with a recent victory over Novak Djokovic in Doha. Ajla Tomljanovic v Johanna Konta (Aus) (Eng) The adopted Aussie against the former Aussie. Tomljanovic has the power to keep Konta on the defensive. The question is for how long. Tomas Berdych v 13-Kyle Edmund (Cze) (Eng) Cracking encounter between Wimbledon finalist Berdych and last year’s breakout Australian Open semi-finalist. Plucky qualifier in main draw PERTH’S Astra Sharma is in the main draw of the Australian Open after an epic 5-7 7-6 (9-7) 7-6 (12-10) qualifying victory over Russian 25th seed Irina Kromacheva. In a brutal contest lasting 2hrs 26mins, Sharma refused to submit as Kromacheva desperately tried to close out the match with underarm serving. An outstanding player on the US collegiate circuit, the athletic Sharma was unfazed and will play her first grand slam main draw match against Queensland wildcard entrant Priscilla Hon. Naiktha Bains fell at the final hurdle, losing 6-1 7-5 to France’s Jessika Ponchet. V1 - CCPE01Z01MA

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