Australian Open 2018: Day 2 Preview: Tiafoe will look to Derail Delpo

published: Jan, 15, 2018

by: Ben Stevens

Day one of the Australian Open is in the books and, well… suffice to say it wasn’t a good one for the Americans.

Between Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens, CoCo Vandeweghe, Jack Sock and John Isner, tennis’ premier superpower lost almost all of its leading lights (and many others) in a matter of hours. Considering all of those women made the US Open semifinals, and Sock and Isner are two of the three highest-ranked American males… let’s just say ESPN should be interesting this morning.

In any case, if you’re looking for someone new to support in the aftermath of Monday’s events, Tuesday in Melbourne offers plenty of good choices. Here’s your three to see for day two of the Australian Open.

*****

Petra Kvitova (CZE) [27] v Andrea Petkovic (GER) – 3rd on Show Court 2

If there’s any woman outside the top 10 with a good chance of winning this tournament, it’s Petra Kvitova. Already a US Open quarterfinalist in her comeback from the hand injury she sustained during a December 2016 home invasion, the two-time Wimbledon champion has already proven she’s still a force to be reckoned with, and it’s not like quarter-mate Simona Halep is a model of consistency, either. That said, her round one encounter with Andrea Petkovic could be as tough as any she faces given their competitive head-to-head record (Kvitova leads 5-4), but if the big-serving Czech comes through with ease, look out.

*****

Alex De Minaur (AUS) v Tomas Berdych (CZE) [19] – 4th on Hisense Arena

The latest precocious young talent to send the Australian public into a tizzy, Alex De Minaur has started 2018 by taking a list of scalps almost as impressive as the size of his ears. In the past two weeks, the 18-year-old has beaten the likes of Steve Johnson, Milos Raonic, Fernando Verdasco, Feliciano Lopez and Benoit Paire with his hyper-energetic, push the tempo, chase down everything game – what’s to say he can’t add a currently slumping Berdych to the list? Of course, Berdych is still a strong favourite, and it’s not like he isn’t still capable of handling a guy like De Minaur, but at the very least, the Aussie is sure to make him work for it.

*****

Frances Tiafoe (USA) v Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) [12] – 2nd Match on Margaret Court Arena (Night Session)

Is it still too early for Frances Tiafoe? At just 19, it’s not like the American is running out of time to prove himself, but we’ve seen enough glimpses – namely in his US Open five-setter against Roger Federer – that you feel like a breakout should happen sooner rather than later. Indeed, it might come right here against Juan Martin Del Potro, a player whom he’s already impressed against, playing an epic three-setter with him last year in Acapulco. Hopefully we get a similar contest this time around, but even if Del Potro rolls him, it’s a match you won’t want to miss, if only to see two massive forehands incinerate some tennis balls.

Ben Stevens

Contributor to TennisConnected. Long time player, coach and fan. Still waiting on Mark Philippoussis to break through at a major.

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