WTA Brisbane, Shenzhen, @ASB_Classic Previews and Predictions
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
The WTA season of 2018 is up and running and it promises to be a cracker. The season opens up with events in Brisbane, Shenzhen and Auckland and we have a run down of all three draws.
World number two Garbine Muguruza kicks off her season at the Brisbane International that boasts a stacked field of top ten players.
When you look at the top half you look immediately to the possible semi final between Muguruza and fourth seed Caroline Garcia. However both players have some tough matches ahead to reach this point.
Muguruza has a BYE in the opening round, but her tournament really gets going in the quarter finals where she could face the tricky Anastasija Sevastova. The Latvian faces home favourite Sam Stosur first however, and the ever dangerous floater Sorana Cirstea has also landed in this section.
Garcia opens against compatriot Alize Cornet whom she has a good record against. But her quarter final could be very interesting because she has draw Kristina Mladenovic in her section. The Frenchwoman ended 2017 on a losing streak however and that could allow Petra Kvitova through to the last eight.
The bottom half hosts a lot of big names including second seed Karolina Pliskova and third seed Elina Svitolina who are projected to meet in the semi finals.
Svitolina has a tough draw. Carla Suarez Navarro is an experienced player in round one, then Ana Konjuh is a dangerous youngster in round two. Johanna Konta meets Madison Keys in the match of the first round and the winner of that should make the quarter finals.
Pliskova has a decent draw to the quarter finals. After a first raw BYE she could face Cici Bellis in the second round. But in the quarters it will get tricky with Ashleigh Barty projected for the last eight. The Aussie’s biggest obstacle to the quarter finals is fellow youngster Daria Kastakina which will be a very entertaining second round.
Garcia def. Muguruza
Barty def. Svitolina
Barty def. Garcia
Simona Halep begins her campaign in China at the Shenzhen Open, and she is joined by French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko and the unseeded Maria Sharapova
Simona Halep enters as the favourite here and her half suggests that she should at least make the final.
Maria Sakkari is the biggest challenge in her quarter. The young Greek has a tough potential round two against Monica Niculescu though. Halep opens against Nicole Gibbs then faces the winner of Ying-Ying Duan vs Evgeniya Rodina.
We could end up with an all Romanian semi final match with Irina Begu the fourth seed here. She has a good draw too with Timea Babos the biggest challenge in the quarter finals. The Hungarian has a tougher path with Jana Cepelova or Magda Linette waiting in the second round
Ostapenko is the highest seed in this half, but she has a possible clash with Sharapova in the semi finals. Will we get this mouth-watering match? Or will someone upset the odds?
Ostapenko has a tough opening round match against big serving Krystina Pliskova, the twin sister of Karolina. Camila Giorgi is also a dangerous floater to have in your section, and that is without mentioning her quarter final against Katerina Siniakova.
Shuai Zhang is the seed of the section, but all eyes will be on Sharapova. The Russian returns to action against Mihaela Buzarnescu and then could potentially face home crowd favourite Qiang Wang in the second round. There will be plenty for the Chinese fans to get excited about.
Halep def. Begu
Ostapenko def. Sharapova
Halep def. Ostapenko
Caroline Wozniacki headlines Auckland this year with Julia Goerges as the second seed.
Wozniacki vs Agnieszka Radwanska is the stand out matchup when you look at this draw, and if all goes to plan then we will see that match in the semi finals. But there are a few potential spoilers in this section.
The Dane opens up against Madison Brengle first of all, and she could face the dangerous Mona Barthel in the quarter finals. Radwanska may face Lauren Davis in the last eight, but there should not be any major obstacles standing in their way.
Julia Goerges has a tough draw to the final with Barbora Strycova one of the few players capable of knocking the German out of the tournament.
Arguably the match of round one is Goerges’ opener against Monica Puig. The winner of this should be able to advance to the last eight to face the winner of Donna Vekic vs Kirsten Flipkens which is another stand out match in the opening round.
Strycova faces wildcard Sara Errani in the first round who is still on the comeback from a doping suspension. Yulia Putintseva is the other seed in this section, and she could be on a collision course with Strycova in the quarter finals.
Wozniacki def. Radwanska
Strycova def. Puig
Wozniacki def. Strycova