Australian Open Round of 16 Odds, Best Bets, Analysis | Grand Slam Match Predictions (January 22)

Australian Open Round of 16 Odds, Best Bets, Analysis | Grand Slam Match Predictions (January 22) article feature image

Robert Prange/Getty. Pictured: Karolina Pliskova.

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If you're looking for feel-good stories in the fourth round at the Australian Open, look no further than the bottom half of the women's draw.

From a teenager making her maiden appearance in the second week of a Slam to a veteran returning from injury and looking as strong as we've seen in years, there's great narratives to follow.

Let's delve into a pair of matches taking place Sunday night in Melbourne.

Match times are subject to change. Read here for advice on viewing Australian Open matches.

Australian Open Odds, Best Bets & Analysis

Donna Vekic (-230) vs. Linda Fruhvirtova (+175)

8:30 p.m. ET

It's a monumental moment for both of these women, as Donna Vekic looks to continue her push to rejoin the world's top 20 and Linda Fruhvirtova aims to continue building her case as the game's top prospect.

I have to side with the Croatian in this spot for a few reasons.

First, the matchup and surface are more favorable to the veteran. The young Czech has added some pace and aggression to her game to improve her chances on hard courts, but is still the second-best player on these courts of the two.

The advantage on serve for Vekic may be the biggest of any match remaining in the women's draw, as Fruhvirtova struggles mightily with double faults and leaving her second serves sitting up. It's much of the same on the forehand wing, where Vekic has borderline elite power compared to the 17-year old's average offering.

Next is the form of each player entering the match. Vekic is undefeated in 2023, has eviscerated several opponents this week already and her last three losses dating back to last season were to Iga Swiatek, Belinda Bencic and Veronika Kudermetova. That trio are all found in the top 15 of the WTA rankings.

Fruhvirtova was impressive last match against Marketa Vondrousova, but her compatriot served for the first set, crushed her in the second and then led 3-1 in the third before picking up an injury that left her barely able to move. I find Fruhvirtova – who needed the trainer a few times herself – rather fortunate to be in this position.

Give me Vekic on the spread at anything under -4.5.

Pick: Vekic -3.5 games (-115 via Caesars)

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Karolina Pliskova (-205) vs. Shuai Zhang (+172)

9 p.m. ET

Another great story from this year's Australian Open is the Chinese veteran Shuai Zhang.

After looking like her game had abandoned her late in 2022 and she began 2023 with an 0-2 record, I began to question whether she was past her best days. She has assuaged those concerns mightily.

Zhang always played her best in Australia, where the quick courts suit her style of taking the ball early and hitting it flat. The Dunlop balls this year are only adding to that advantage.

With the crowd on her side, she's looked the part of her top 25 ranking and has a decent shot at pulling off the upset in the fourth round as well.

Karolina Pliskova has one of the more straightforward games on the WTA Tour. Big serve, dictates with her forehand but lacks in the movement department.

Considering Zhang takes the ball early and hits in such a flat manner (both things that can take time away from her opponents to reach the spot they need to), and the conditions suit her so well, this is a much closer matchup than the odds indicate.

I'll take the dog on the moneyline.

Pick: Zhang ML (+173 via DraftKings)

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