Before each day's play at the 2021 Australian Open, we'll preview three must-see matches.
Karolina Pliskova  vs. Danielle Collins
The Australian Open hasn’t offered many surprises so far, but if there’s a match to put on upset alert, it might be this one. Collins and the sixth-seeded Pliskova have met once, last week in Melbourne, and the American came away with a victory in two close sets. We know Collins, who reached the Aussie Open semifinals two years ago, likes the vibe in Oz, and she also likes the kind of pace that Pliskova will give her. In Pliskova’s favor is the fact that she’s the better player on most days, and she may be determined not to lose to Collins two straight times. Throw in the quicker courts Down Under, and this should make for a blistering contest, no matter who comes out on top.
Elina Svitolina  vs. Coco Gauff
We’ve seen our share of the 16-year-old Gauff over the last two seasons, but we haven’t seen her square off all that often against members of the WTA’s best. In her first meeting with Svitolina, the Floridian will get a chance to test herself against a perennial Top 10 player. It won’t be easy. Coco won’t be able to afford the double faults and forehand shanks that can plague her, and Svitolina will make her earn everything she wins. Last year in Melbourne, Gauff upset Naomi Osaka on her way to the fourth round. While her ranking isn’t as high as Osaka's, Svitolina’s steadiness and doggedness may make her a tougher foe for Coco to conquer.
Stefanos Tsitsipas  vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis
Kokkinakis says he’s hoping a big and rowdy crowd comes out to see him take on his fellow Greek on Thursday, and he’ll probably get it. If there’s any match-up that can bring back the old atmosphere in Greek-centric Melbourne, it may be this one. As for the contest itself, Tsitsipas will be the clear favorite. He’s firmly established among the ATP elite now, he’s been a semifinalist at the Australian Open, and he was in fine form in his straight-set rout of Gilles Simon on Tuesday. Kokkinakis, meanwhile, is working his way back yet again from injury and illness. But Kokkinakis is still just 24, and is still a talent. He should at least make if fun.