Australian Open Third Round Picks, Odds, Analysis: Madison Keys to Power into Fourth Round
Icon Sportswire/Getty. Pictured: Madison Keys.
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As the field continues to shrink at the Australian Open, we're starting to see some more and more enticing matchups between relatively big names.
For Thursday night's previews, we'll look to a pair of matchups that are intriguing for completely different reasons.
Read on for my picks and analysis.
Match times are subject to change. Read here for advice on viewing Australian Open matches.
Australian Open Odds, Picks & Previews
Victoria Azarenka (-155) vs. Madison Keys (+125)
3 a.m. ET
How much is Madison Keys loving the tour being back in Australia again?
After an Adelaide title run in 2022 led to a semifinal run in Melbourne, Keys has picked up where she left off down under.
Still perfect on the season thanks to a dominant run as the No. 2 American woman at the United Cup, Keys will look to continue the defense of her semifinal points against Victoria Azarenka on Thursday night.
It should come as no surprise to see her succeeding to this extent once again in 2023. Her serve and forehand combo might be the most potent on tour (it's the most natural power at the very least), and the light balls, quick courts and warm conditions only serve to make those aspects of her game even more tough to deal with.
Azarenka is no slouch in Australia herself. It's the site of both of her Grand Slam titles – albeit those came a decade ago when the Belarusian was in her prime. Her own form is nothing to sneer at, as the 33-year old is striking the ball with great power and moving a bit better than she was in 2022.
She's looked fairly strong through a few weeks this year, but has a pair of losses on her record with her best wins coming by relatively slim margins.
With Keys outmatching Azarenka on serve and her form on return better than we've seen it in quite some time, I'll side with the bigger-hitting American in conditions that she's dominated in at plus money.
Pick: Keys ML (+125 via DraftKings)
Babora Krejcikova (-150) vs. Anhelina Kalinina (+120)
7 p.m. ET
The second match features two women who also play similarly to one another, though not in the same way as Keys and Azarenka.
Babora Krejcikova and Anhelina Kalinina are far more tactically-oriented players, who enjoy counterpunching, moving the ball around the court and constructing points to move their opposition to the outer thirds of the court and hitting through the open space.
The primary difference for me comes from the fact that Krejcikova is much further along in developing a more aggressive mindset.
Despite being a proven commodity on clay courts, Krejcikova struggled when it came to playing on surfaces that rewarded more aggressive play for a while, as she was considered much more of a defensive-minded player.
The Czech has added some pop to her serve (she's winning about 70% of first serve points in 2022) and has started to play much more front-foot tennis.
As an elite doubles player, Krejcikova also possesses a much stronger net game – something that could prove pivotal should these two get into prolonged rallies and need a way to take time away from each other.
With a much higher pedigree at tour level and a pair of strong wins under her belt entering this one, I'm happy to play Krejcikova at the relatively cheap price of -150.
Pick: Krejcikova ML (-150 via Caesars)