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Wild weather has made things more interesting Down Under as the Australian Open rolls deeper into Week 1. Many of Tuesday’s first-round matches had to be postponed a day, with rain hindering the start of matches on Wednesday. Inside Rod Laver Arena, the biggest upset for the tournament was pulled off by Mackenzie McDonald when he took out defending champion Rafael Nadal in straight sets, with the 36-year-old hindered by a hip injury.
Let's look ahead to more Australian Open matches to watch in the second round, with help from Universal Tennis INSIGHTS.
(2) Casper Ruud (15.93) vs. Jenson Brooksby (15.39)
Casper Ruud is the second seed at the Happy Slam, and though he’s known as a clay-court expert, the 24-year-old Norweigian reached the US Open final less than five months ago. Though his next opponent, Jenson Brooksby, is ranked in the Top 40 on the ATP Tour, he’s playing in his first-ever Australian Open.
Ruud dropped a set in his opener against Tomas Machac, while Brooksby also needed four sets to ease past Australian Christopher O'Connell. Ruud is favored by INSIGHTS to reach the third round over Brooksby at 78% odds. The two have played each other just once, with Ruud prevailing in Rome (on clay, of course).
JJ Wolf (15.33) vs. (23) Diego Schwartzman (15.27)
Universal Tennis INSIGHTS is calling an upset. Like Brooksby, fellow American JJ Wolf is playing in his first Australian Open main draw. But the 24-year-old is favored at 56% to take out No. 23-seeded Diego Schwartzman. Based on UTR Ratings, Wolf is actually ranked higher than the Argentinian, at No. 58 to No. 65.
Wolf has reached the third round of a major twice, both times at the US Open. Schwartzman’s best run has been to the semifinals of Roland Garros in 2020 and the quarterfinals of the US Open twice. His best appearance in Melbourne has been reaching the fourth round.
(5) Aryna Sabalenka (12.72) vs. Shelby Rogers (12.39)
Aryna Sabalenka is seeking her first career Grand Slam and is flying a little under the radar, which could work out in her favor. The 24-year-old is set to face Shelby Rogers for a place in the third round. She’s familiar with the American’s game after scoring two wins over her in 2022, in Cincinnati and 's-Hertogenbosch.
Sabalenka is expected to move on with 68% odds over Rogers with a higher UTR Rating, higher three-month trending UTR Rating, and higher hard-court UTR Rating.
(4) Caroline Garcia (12.82) vs. Leylah Fernandez (12.40)
Though INSIGHTS isn’t calling the upset as clearly as Wolf over Schwartzman, Leylah Fernandez has a shot against Caroline Garcia, the No. 4 seed. Garcia is still favored at 72%, but Fernandez knows her way around a hard court, having reached the final of the 2021 US Open.
Garcia enters the first Grand Slam of the year on a hot streak after winning the WTA Finals to cap off a stellar second half of the year that saw her win titles in Bad Homburg, Warsaw, and Cincinnati. Thursday will be their first career meeting.
UTR Pro Tennis Tour Players Shine in Oz
A trio of female UTR Pro Tennis Tour players is safely through to the second round. Kimberley Birrell, a 24-year-old Australian who has played on the PTT in Brisbane, has the greatest odds of making it through her next round, as she has a 48% chance of defeating Linda Fruhvirtova (12.05). Making good on her wild card entry, Birrell took out No. 31 seed Kaia Kanepi in three sets, saving multiple match points.
Look how much it means! ❤️ The moment Australia's Kimberly Birrell sealed her incredible upset win over the 31st seed 👏👏— Wide World of Sports (@wwos) January 17, 2023
🖥 #AusOpen LIVE | https://t.co/80XjQpwd6J#9WWOS #Tennis pic.twitter.com/5c22RAxDJ9
Katie Volynets (11.74) has a tall task in No. 9 seed Veronika Kudermetova (12.80). Still, the 21-year-old American has come through qualifying and is on quite a roll with her 6-3, 6-2 win over Evgeniya Rodina being her first straight-set victory in Melbourne Park.
Fellow American Taylor Townsend (12.34) also put her wild card to good use with a dominant win over Diane Parry and will next look to upset No. 19 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova (12.72). Townsend used the PTT last year to launch her comeback to professional tennis shortly after her son turned one. She won the title at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and quickly found her feet on the WTA Tour, even kicking off her first full season this year with a doubles crown in Adelaide.
UTR Ratings and INSIGHTS probabilities as of 9 p.m. EST, January 17, 2023.