2015 WTA Brisbane Preview and Predictions
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
It’s here, it’s finally here! The start of the new tennis season has arrived, and there aren’t many better places to start than Brisbane. The Queensland capital has hosted its own tournament since 2009 as a joint event between the ATP and WTA. It went from an International event to a Premier event in 2012, with the prize money increasing to $1 million in that time. It’s the ideal place to kick off a new season with the world’s best competing for the title. Grand Slam champions such as Serena Williams, Petra Kvitova and Kim Clijsters have previously won the season opener. However, none of those three mentioned have entered the tournament this year, so we have only one ex-champion in the draw; Kaia Kanepi. Therefore the chances of a new champion being crowned at Brisbane are high. The 2015 season promises to be a special one, and we hope you follow all the action on Tennis Atlantic.
Brisbane International presented by Suncorp
WTA Premier Series*
January 4-January 10, 2015
Prize Money: $1,000,000
*denotes joint ATP/WTA event
Top 4 seeds (Top two seeds receive first round byes) (WTA ranking in parentheses)
1: Maria Sharapova (2)
2: Ana Ivanovic (5)
3: Angelique Kerber (9)
4: Dominika Cibulkova (10)
A strong seeding line up, with eight top 20 players and 3 former world number ones.
First round matchups to watch:
Victoria Azarenka vs. Karolina Pliskova
A classic serve vs return match-up here. Karolina Pliskova brings one of the best serves on tour, and Azarenka brings one of the best returns on tour. Which one will dominate the match? That’s the question that will decide the winner of this match. There are also question marks about the level Azarenka will show here after an injury hit 2014. Will the Azarenka of old show up here? Or will the Czech defeat last years finalist?
Sam Stosur vs. Varvara Lepchenko
Any match involving the ‘Home’ player is interesting. Add a grand slam title, and a dangerous opponent and you get one of the most intriguing round one matches. Sam Stosur brings one of the most dynamic games on the tour, as she hits with a heavy amount of top spin. Vavara Lepchenko hits a very flat and her main weapon is her forehand, so you have a forehand orientated match here. Will the spin of Stosur be too much for the flat hitting of Lepchenko? This match has potential to go the distance, and the potential to silence the home crowd.
(4)Dominika Cibulkova vs. Madison Keys
One of the tour’s hottest prospects vs the 2014 Australian Open finalist. Sounds mouth-watering doesn’t it? Cibulkova couldn’t have asked for a more difficult first round tie, as Madison Keys brings huge power and a big serve to the court. However, the Slovak brings her own weapons to the fray and if she hits 2014 Australian Open form, Keys could be in for a long night. A close match here that could go either way, so don’t be surprised if the number 4 seed is dumped out in the first round.
(5)Andrea Petkovic vs. Kaia Kanepi
In this first round clash, you have a former top 10 player in Petkovic vs a former winner in Brisbane, Kaia Kanepi. Both will look to take control in the rallies and dominate from the back of the court. This match will come down to who can do that better, and who can take the initiative. Petkovic will be the favourite, but you would be a fool to count out Kanepi.
Number one seed Maria Sharapova will go into the tournament as the favourite to win the title. The 5 time grand slam champions has received a bye into the second round due to her seeding. She will face either a qualifier or Sabine Lisicki in the second round, both could potentially be dangerous. Lisicki has shown great grass form over her career, but has struggled to translate that form onto other surfaces. However The German is still very dangerous and could cause problems. Sharapova will likely battle her way to the quarter finals where she is set to face Carla Suarez Navarro. The Spaniard could cause the number one seed some problems, but Sharapova will fancy herself to make the semi finals here.
The number 3 seed, Angelique Kerber has a potential banana skin tie in the first round when she faces Caroline Garcia. The French woman has caused problems for top 10 players in the past, but Kerber should get through a tricky first round clash. From there she will likely face Jelena Jankovic in the quarter finals in one of the more interesting potential matches in Brisbane. It will likely be a three setter, but I believe Kerber is currently the better player and will squeak past the Serb.
4th seed Dominika Cibulkova has a difficult match against highly touted youngster, Madison Keys in the first round. I can see an upset there, so Keys advances to face Stosur in the second round. Stosur will use the home crowd advantage to make the quarter finals where she will face another highly touted youngster Garbine Muguruza. The Spaniard has a potentially difficult path to the Quarter Finals, where she could face Victoria Azarenka. However, I think Garbine will have enough skill about her to reach the semi finals here.
Number 2 seed Ana Ivanovic receives a bye into the second round, where she will face Jarmila Gadjosova or Shuai Zhang. Ivanovic should get through that match fairly comfortably to set up a match against Petkovic or Kanepi (Most likely). Both of these potential opponents can be tricky and will give the Serb a good match, but Ivanovic will most likely make the semi finals here.
Sharapova def. Kerber
Ivanovic def. Muguruza
The top two seeds will squeeze past their semi final opponents in 3 sets to set up a top 5 clash for the title.
Sharapova def. Ivanovic
The final will be highly fought contest that will raise both players blood pressure a few notches (You got the joke, right?). Sharapova will, in typical Sharapova fashion, battle back to win the final in 3 sets.
Be sure to read the recap here on Tennis Atlantic after the tournament has finished