The 2024 Australian Open has blessed us with some glorious early-round women's matches. Thankfully, that will continue on Thursday with two stellar ones. First is the all-American matchup between Coco Gauff and Alycia Parks. The second is the match between two players coming back after a prolonged absence, Spain's Paula Badosa and American Amanda Anisimova.
Coco Gauff and Alycia Parks know each other well but surprisingly have never faced each other. They have occasionally practiced together. The fact that Gauff is 19 and from Florida, and Parks is a native Georgian who is 23 years old makes it even more surprising they never played a WTA match before. Parks is in her first career Australian Open main draw and had a huge upset win over Canada's Leylah Fernandez in the second round.
Paula Badosa and Amanda Anisimova have both experienced the highs and lows of tennis. Physical and mental issues have caused them to take prolonged breaks from tennis, but both have returned stronger and happier.
Predictions for Coco Gauff vs. Alycia Parks and Paula Badosa vs. Amanda Anisimova
Coco Gauff admitted that the pressure is off now that she won her maiden Grand Slam at the 2023 US Open, and as a result, she is playing freely and very well. Unless she has a sloppy day riddled with service issues and unforced errors, Gauff should win the match in straight sets. Gauff will be fresh and ready for the late rounds now that she and Jessica Pegula withdrew from doubles after Pegula's second-round singles loss.
Paula Badosa and Amanda Anisimova's match is harder to predict. Both do not have much recent match play because of their absences from the game. Whoever wins will do it in three competitive sets with Badosa, spurred and inspired by boyfriend Stefanos Tsitsipas's performance, having the slight edge.