2016 Australian open
It’s almost time for the first Grand Slam of the year. It has come around so around so fast it’s seems like only yesterday I was waiting for the season to start up again. First round play starts up on Monday. As the slam is down under it is the hardest to follow as all play starts at 12am. This year’s defending champion is Serena Williams and there is some uncertainty around how she will play as she hasn’t played a competitive match since the US Open.
Quarter 1 Serena Williams (1) V Maria Sharapova (5)
The top four seeds in this quarter are Williams, Sharapova, Bencic and Wozniacki. Serena will start her title defence against the hard hitting Camila Giorgi. This is a though opening round as Giorgi is the highest ranked non seeded player in the draw, as I mentioned before this will be Serena’s first competitive match since losing to Roberta Vinci at the US Open. Serena has had problems with her knee and pulled out of the Hopman Cup a few weeks ago. This has now cleared up and she has been practicing like normal in Melbourne. Serena could possibly face Ostapenko in the second round who could also be an unknown in itself as well.
Maria is ranked 5 coming into this year’s tournament and was runner up to Serena last year. Maria hasn’t played any tournament at all this season after a left forearm injury forced her to pull out of the tournament in Brisbane where she was defending champion. Maria’s first round opponent is Japanese player Nao Hibino. This will be Hibino first main draw appearance in a grand slam having previously never made it out a qualifying rounds. I don’t think that Hibino will be much of a problem for her Sharapova’s first tricky match will be against Pavlyuchenkova who played well in the later stages of last year’s season.
Bencic headed into last year’s Open with zero match wins whilst this year she will her form can be questioned she lost in the second round in Brisbane to qualifier Crawford and had to retire from her semi-final match against Puig in Sydney due to illness. However she goes into the tournament with nothing to defend she could easily make it into the top 10 with a good run. Bencic opens up against Alison Riske who has won the only match they have played. Riske is looking in good having made the final in Shenzhen. If she makes it past Riske she could possibly play Kuznetsova in the third round.
Wozniacki is the 16th seed this year. 2015 wasn’t the best year for the Dane because of injury it saw her finish outside the world’s top 10 for the first time since 2008. She did start the season off well in Auckland where she made the final losing to eventual champion Sloane Stephens. Coming into last year’s slam expectation was high due to a good end to the previous season and she didn’t live up to that for the remainder of the season. Her first opponent will be Yulia Putintseva which will be a fun match to watch her first though opponent she could meet is close friend Serena in the fourth round.
The other seeds in the quarter of the draw are in form players Kuznetsova who won the title in Sydney and Pavlyuchenkova who played well at the end of last season. Schmiedlova who hasn’t had the best start to the season this year if she plays well here she could meet Serena in the third round. Errani is the final seed in this section who made it to the quarters of Sydney.
Williams df Wozniacki
Bencic df Sharapova
Williams df Bencic
Quarter 2 Radwanska (4) V Kvitova (2)
The top 4 seeds in this draw are Radwanska, Kvitova, Suarez Navarro and Vinci. The highest ranked seed is Agnieszka Radwanska. Aga is on a eight match winning streak dating back from last year and looks in good form to make a deep run here. She started her season on a high winning the title in Shenzhen. She opens up against Christina Mchale who shouldn’t be hard to get past. She could then meet Bouchard who has regained the form that saw her enter the worlds to 5. She made it to the quarters in Shenzhen and the final of Hobart. Radwanska has the only time that they have played. The first seed that she is projected to meet will be Stosur in the third round.
Kvitova hasn’t had the best start to the season illness caused her to retire in her first round match in Shenzhen after 1 set as well as withdrawing from the tournament in Sydney where she was the defending champion. Having only played one set this year I don’t hold high hopes but you never know with Petra she is capable of making a good run. She plays Luksika Kumkhum is the first round who defeated her in the first round here in 2014. She could then meet Gavrilova is the second round and the first seed she could meet is Mladenovic all of who could cause an upset.
Suarez Navarro is seeded 10 here she started the season well making it to the semis of Brisbane before losing to Kerber. She then followed this up by losing in the first round to Errani in the first round at Sydney. Suarez Navarro is defending a lot of points until Wimbledon so I good run here is needed. As she lost in the first round here last year she has a good chance of getting a good haul of points here. She has a good draw for this in the first two rounds she faces qualifiers the first seed is projected to meet is Petkovic.
Vinci rounds out the top seeds in this quarter, this will be her last year on tour and she’ll want to make the best of it and hopefully make it into the top 10. She only made it as far as the second round last year so there is plenty of ground to get of points here. She opens up against qualifier Tamira Paszek who had a good start to the year making the semis of Auckland and is projected to meet Sloane Stephens in the third round.
The other seeds in this quarter are Sam Stosur who could face Monica Puig in the second round in a rematch of Brisbane, Sloane Stephens who is looking in good form having won her second title in Auckland, Andrea Petkovic who made the quarters in Brisbane and Kiki Mladenovic who opens up against Cibulkova which has upset written all over it.
Radwanska df Stephens
Kvitova df Suarez Navarro
Radwanska df Petkovic
Quarter 3 Muguruza (3) V Kerber (7)
Muguruza, Kerber, Bacsinszky and Azarenka are the highest seeds in this quarter. Muguruza had a good second half to the season and will look to continue this form this year. Muguruza didn’t have a good start to the year having to retire in the 2nd set of her first match in Brisbane with a foot injury. She plays youngster Anett Kontaveit in the first round who had a good start to the season making the quarters of Shenzhen. She could play lucic-Baroni in the second round and Garcia is a potential third round opponent.
Kerber is one of the more consistent and is a top 10 player that has been playing well at the start of the season. Kerber had a pretty good 2015 which saw her win four tournaments. Kerber started the season well making the final of Brisbane losing to Azarenka she was then forced to pull out of Sydney will illness although not before toughing out her first round match. She will play Misaki Doi in the first round followed by either Storm Sanders or Alexandra Dulgheru and the first seed she will face is Begu.
Bacsinszky is seeded 11th this year and hasn’t found the form she had last year yet coming into this year’s open without a win. Nobody thought that she would have the year she did last year. She is still suffering with the knee injury that she sustained at the end of last year. Her first match is against Sinikova how made the quarters Shenzhen. Is could meet Jankovic in the third round. Although she would have to be fit to make a good run here.
Finally Azarenka rounds out the top seeds in this quarter. After injury plagued couple of seasons she finally looks like the old Azarenka. In Brisbane where top players were falling like wildfires she made the most of it and won the title her first since 2013. She is second favourite to win this year and opens up against Alison Van Uytvanck and could face Samantha Crawford in the second round in a replay of their Brisbane semi-final. Then she is projected to meet Svitolina in the third round.
The other seeds in this section are Jankovic who hasn’t had the best start to the season, Svitolina who made it to the finals of the Hopman Cup, Begu who retired in her second round match in Shenzhen and Garcia who won all of her matches at the Hopman Cup.
Kerber df Jankovic
Azarenka df Muguruza
Azarenka df Kerber
Quarter 4 Halep (2) V Williams (8)
The top seeds in this section are Halep, Williams, Pliskova and Keys. Halep didn’t have best start to the year withdrawing from Brisbane then coming back to make the semis of Sydney. Going into the Australian Open with match wins is good for Halep as sometimes she needs of few matches to settle into a tournament. She plays qualifier Shuai Zheng in the first round and possibly playing Alize Cornet in the 2nd round who won the title in Hobart. The first seed is could play is Lesia Tsurenko.
Venus didn’t start the season well having lost in the first round in Auckland to Daria Kasatkina where she was defending champion. She had a good end to the year which saw her find her way back into the top 10. She plays Johanna Konta in the first round who pushed her hard in their last match in Wuhan although Jo hasn’t had the best start she has yet to win a match. The first seed that she is projected to meet is Sabine Lisicki.
Pliskova is looking to make the 2nd week of a grand slam for the first time the furthest she has gotten is the 3rd round. Pliskova is one of the more consistent on the tour and can make the most of top players falling. Pliskova started the season well winning 2 of her 3 matches at the Hopman Cup and making the quarters of Sydney. First up for Pliskova is wildcard Kimberly Birrell followed up by either Goerges or Mitu. The first seed that she could meet is Ekaterina Makarova.
Finally Madison Keys rounds out the top seeds. Keys is defending semi-final points but comes into the tournament this year having played no matches she was forced to pull out of Sydney with an forearm injury. Apart from the Australian Open last year she didn’t make strides the slams last year. She plays Zarina Diyas in the first round followed by either Pironkova or Shvedova. She could meet Ana Ivanovic in the third round which could be a good match up although Ana has been struggling so far this year.
The other seeds in this section are Ana Ivanovic who has no form so far, Ekaterina Makarova who made the quarters of Sydney, Lisicki is has been struggling coming back from an injury and Lesia Tsurenko who hasn’t won a match yet.
Pliskova df Williams
Halep df Keys
Halep df Pliskova
Williams df Radwanska
Azarenka df Halep
Williams df Azarenka