A Tough Slog to a Home Title for @AshBarty at @BrisbaneTennis; 2020 @WTA Brisbane International Preview, Predictions
Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
There’s no place like home 🥰 pic.twitter.com/o9mCiRcCN9
— Ash Barty (@ashbarty) January 4, 2020
If it’s the Coco and Serena show in Auckland, then the Brisbane International is the home of the Grupo Del Muerto. And indeed, there’s no place like home…unless you’re seeded in the Group of Death.
Top seed and world #1 Ash Barty hoped to take a bit of a victory lap down under and win a big home country tournament or two before the Australian Open, but the gods of the draw decided to have a little fun with her at the Brisbane International, a premier-level WTA tour event. In order for Barty to get out of her quarter, she’ll need to get by Maria Sharapova, Sloane Stephens, Petra Kvitova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
After Barty’s bye, she’ll face a very wild card in Maria Sharapova, provided Sharapova dispatches a qualifier. Barty beat Sharapova in their one and only meeting at the Western & Southern Open last summer, but you truly never know which Sharapova will show. I’ll give Barty the edge and send her on to the third round against Sloane Stephens, who beat the Australian in their only meeting at the 2017 US Open. Barty’s quest for a title to open 2020 will likely end with a Stephens victory in the quarterfinals.
4 seed Elena Svitolina’s quarter is also dangerous, with Angelique Kerber, Madison Keys, Donna Vekic and Danielle Collins waiting in the wings. The Ukrainian will get past the plucky Danielle Collins in the opening round and Donna Vekic in the second before being eliminated by an in-form Madison Keys, who must defeat Kerber to get there.
Naomi Osaka, a year wiser, is used to getting her own quarter these days and what to do with such a blessing. In a trip-up match with Sakkari, she should prevail before facing another major test in Sonia Kenin. It’s a test she should also pass before dispatching Kiki Bertens in the quarterfinals.
Karolina Pliskova has become more of a sure thing over the last year, a compliment to her maturity as a player. As such, I believe she’ll use that bye and a second round match against an Australian wild card to polish her early-season form. She’ll need the tune-up before beating Naomi Osaka in 3 sets to advance to the final against Madison Keys. In three sets, I’ll predict it’s Pliskova who begins 2020 with the Brisbane title.