WILL EVANS’ daily preview serves up Australian Open tips for frontline title contender Simona Halep’s intriguing fourth-round clash with giant-killing Alize Cornet.

Australian Open Tips – Simona Halep V Alize Cornet

13:05 (AEDT), Mon 24th Jan @ Melbourne Park

History: Played 4: Cornet 3 V Halep 1

Last meeting: Madrid Masters, 2015 (R64): Cornet d Halep 7-6 6-3

Final Thoughts: Tenacious veteran Simona Halep has emerged as arguably the biggest threat to Ash Barty’s Australian Open quest after tearing through the first week of the tournament.

Halep, the 14th seed, has accounted for Magadalena Frech (6-4 6-3), Beatriz Haddad Maia (6-2 6-0) and Danka Kovinic (6-2 6-1) in increasingly ruthless and convincing fashion. She lost just one game on serve across her last two matches.

The two-time Grand Slam winner is a five-time quarter-finalist at the Australian Open – reaching the final in 2018 and the semis in 2020. After an injury-hampered couple of years, the 30-year-old Romanian is playing some of her best tennis. Halep dropped just one set in five matches on her way to winning the Melbourne Summer Set tournament earlier this month.

But her Australian Open foray shifts up a gear with fellow WTA Tour stalwart Alize Cornet on the other side of the net in the fourth round.

The world No.61 disposed of Viktoriya Tomova in straight sets and shocked third seed Garbine Muguruza 6-3 6-3. She then came from a set down to eliminate 29th seed Tamara Zidansek in the third round.

But Cornet has a significant bogey to overcome. The French 32-year-old has been to the Round of 16 at all four majors but lost on all five occasions.

More encouragingly, Cornet boasts an impressive 3-1 head-to-head record against Halep. But the pair have not met since the 2015 Madrid Masters.

Cornet would likely need an off day from Halep to claim another big scalp. She’s more than capable of capitalising – but Halep has shown few chinks in her armour so far in 2022 and won’t underestimate the task in front of her.

Tip: Games Handicap – Halep -6 @ $1.85


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