2016 WTA Hobart Preview and Predictions
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
After an injury struck first week of the season, the Australian Open preparation continues with tournaments in Sydney and Hobart. Whilst a lot of the bigger names elect to play in Sydney, Hobart has often been a place where lesser known players pick up an International title.
The Hobart International was formed in 1994 and has seen many champions including Kim Clijsters, Petra Kvitova and world number three Garbine Muguruza. Heather Watson was the winner in 2015.
The Hobart International
Location: Hobart, Australia
Prize Money: $226,750
Date: January 10th-16th 2016
The eight seeded players (Ranking)
1. Sloane Stephens (30)
2. Camila Giorgi (35)
3. Dominika Cibulkova (38)
4. Monica Niculescu (39)
5. Madison Brengle (40)
6. Barbora Strycova (42)
7. Alize Cornet (43)
8. Alison Van Uytvanck (44)
As expected there is not many big names with no top 20 players competing
First round matches to watch
(2) Camila Giorgi vs Zarina Diyas
Any match with Giorgi is unpredictable due to the aggressive nature of her came. The Italian goes for every ball and her serve either hits the mark or misfires in all sorts of directions.
Diyas is as opposite as you can get from Giorgi. The Kazakh does not have the weapons but she is consistent and will not give you many free points- that is why this match is interesting.
The world number 52 won their only previous meeting in Miami two years a go. Will Giorgi be able to overpower her opponent this time, or will Diyas be too consistent for the Italian?
(3) Dominika Cibulkova vs Joanna Konta
One of the potential winners of the title that is not seeding is Konta. The Brit had a great second half to 2015, scoring twins over the world number three Muguruza and reaching the second week of the US Open. Can she pull another upset against Cibulkova?
Neither player made a great start to 2016 but will see this tournament as the perfect chance to get some pre-Australian Open momentum. This will be their first meeting, so there are not previous matches to go by when predicting this contest. It should be a good one.
First Quarter: Top seed Sloane Stephens is coming into Hobart with some good momentum after a title run in Auckland last week. The American opens against Japan’s Misaki Doi before meeting local wildcard Jarmila Wolfe or a qualifier. A good draw for Stephens to get to the last eight.
Alize Cornet is still wondering what happened to her ranking in 2015, falling form the top 30 to outside the top 40. The Frenchwoman’s climb back up the rankings could start in Hobart where she faces Denisa Allertova in round one. A qualifier or lucky loser will be certain for the winner in round two.
Second Quarter: Monica Niculescu brings her unique game to Hobart as the fourth seed. The Romanian has a fairly tough draw however with Christina McHale in round one then either Heather Watson or Teliana Pereira in round two.
Another player with an unusual gamestyle is Barbora Strycova. The sixth seed faces Johanna Larsson in round one with a potential round two match with rising youngster Margarita Gasparyan. The Russian faces wildcard Maddison Inglis in her opener.
Third quarter: Third seed Cibulkova has not quite been the same player since injury but her comeback trails continues in Hobart. Round one is a tough one against Konta with Danka Kovinic likely for round two. The Montenegran faces wildcard Kimberly Birrell in round one.
Fifth seed Madison Brengle got a lucky round one draw against a qualifier or lucky loser, but round two should be a bigger test. No matter who wins between Mona Barthel and Annika Beck, a German will advance to the next round. Barthel is a former champion here but pulled out of her match last week with injury.
Fourth Quarter: As mentioned previously, Giorgi is one of the most erratic players on tour. But when her game clicks she is one of the most dangerous too. Which side will we see in Hobart. Diyas will provide a consistent test in round one with Nao Hibino or a qualifier awaiting in round two.
Alison Van Uytvanck will be a name to look out for in 2016 given her Roland Garros run last year. The Belgian faces fellow youngster Carina Witthoeft in an interesting round one match-up. Eugenie Bouchard is always a name to look out for and she faces Bethanie Mattek Sands in another interesting opener. A stacked quarter here.
Stephens def. Cornet
Watson def. Gasparyan
Cibulkova def. Beck
Mattek Sands def. Giorgi
Watson def. Stephens
Cibulkova def. Mattek Sands
Cibulkova def. Watson
The defending champion will make another run but will ultimate lose out to the third seed in the final. Cibulkova gets her 2016 up and going and gets the perfect momentum boost for the Australian Open.