Three to See—Day 6: Svitolina-Muguruza; Kyrgios-Khachanov; Thiem-Fritz

Three to See—Day 6: Svitolina-Muguruza; Kyrgios-Khachanov; Thiem-Fritz

The fact that Thiem won both of their US Open meetings, and Fritz won when they played in Laver Cup—in a super-tiebreaker instead of a deciding set—should tell you who the favorite is in this one.

Before each day's play at the 2020 Australian Open, we'll preview three must-see matches.


[5] Elina Svitolina vs. Garbine Muguruza 

This sort of feels like a, “What year is it, 2017?” type of match. With all of the new faces that have jumped to the top of the WTA rankings since then, Muguruza, 26, and Svitolina, 25, seem like veterans from another era. They certainly know each other’s games well. They’ve played 10 times since 2012, and Svitolina leads 6-4. Two of those matches came in 2019; Muguruza won in straight sets at the French Open, and Svitolina returned the favor in Wuhan. The Plexicushion surface in Melbourne Park should offer a neutral battlefield for these two hard-hitting baseliners. Svitolina is higher-ranked, and has been the better player for most of the last two years. But Muguruza is working with Conchita Martinez again and seems to have a keener sense of determination so far in 2020. If she’s clicking, she can win.

Winner: Muguruza


[16] Karen Khachanov vs. [23] Nick Kyrgios 

These two have played once, in Cincinnati last summer, and it was a doozy. Khachanov emerged the winner in three sets, but the match is best-remembered for Kyrgios’s prolonged tirade at the umpiring decisions of Fergus Murphy, which landed the Aussie a suspended 16-week ban. Will we see similar fireworks this weekend? It’s doubtful that Murphy will be in the chair again, and for the moment Kyrgios seems inspired enough by playing at his home Slam to put in a committed performance. The question is: Can Khachanov match him? In his last match, he survived a four-hour marathon with Mikael Ymer, winning 10-8 in a fifth set tiebreaker. Truth be told, though, Khachanov didn’t look great for much of that match. It also wasn’t a great sign that, when he fell to the ground in celebration after the final point, he had trouble getting back up.

Winner: Kyrgios


[5] Dominic Thiem vs. [29] Taylor Fritz

Thiem and Fritz have met twice at the US Open, in 2017 and 2018, and once in Laver Cup, in 2019. The fact that Thiem won both of the meetings in New York, and Fritz won when they played in a team exhibition, in a super-tiebreaker instead of a deciding set, should tell you who the favorite is in this one. But those two Open results should also tell you that Thiem isn’t favored by much. Both were tight four-setters, and Fritz has improved since then. As far as their current form goes, the Austrian and the American will both come in after enduring five-set second-round matches; Fritz won from two sets down, and Thiem won from two sets to one down. They’ll both be a little gassed on Saturday, but they’ll both know they can win even if they fall behind early.

Winner: Fritz