In the first tournament after the Australian Open where Angelique Kerber won her first Grand Slam title the tours rolls into Russia and for the first time the tour will go to St Petersburg where the top seed here is Belinda Bencic with the rest of the seeds coming from the top 40.
1st Quarter – Bencic (1) V Pavlyuchenkova (5)
Belinda is the top seed here and winning the tournament here would send her into the top 10. This is the first time that she will be the top seed at a tournament. She has had a good start to the year making the semis of Sydney and the 4th round of the Australian Open. She has also won both of her rubbers in the first round of the Fed Cup beating Kerber and Petkovic. She has a bye into the second round and will face either Annika Beck or Lucie Hradecka. Lucie hasn’t had the best start to the season having lost in all three of her opening matches whereas Beck made it to the 4th round of the Australian Open, Beck also leads their head to head 4-1 so I see her facing Bencic in the first round . Pavs opens up against a qualifier and will either face a qualifier or Carina Witthoeft in the second round. Pavs hasn’t had the best start to the year with a quarter final appearance in Brisbane being her only notable result.
2nd Quarter – Wozniacki (3) V Mladenovic (7)
Caroline has taken a wildcard into the event after a disappointing Australian Open where she lost in the first round to Yulia Putintseva. She did have a good start to the year in Hobart where she made it to the semi-finals. Caro has a bye into the second round and will face either Dominkia Cibulkova or Evgeniya Rodina. Rodina is yet to win a match in 2016, whereas Domi has had a better making it to the semis of Hobart but that is about it. I expect that Caro will face Domi in the second round which may be good for her as she holds a 9-3 head to head against her. Mladenovic opens up against a qualifier. Kiki didn’t get her 2016 campaign off to the best start losing both of her first two opening round matches before making it to the 3rd round of the Australian Open. The other first round match in this quarter is the young Russian Daria Kasatkina who made it to the 3rd round of the Australian Open and Kristen Flipkens who made it to the quarters of Auckland as a qualifier.
3rd Quarter – Ivanovic (4) V Cornet (8)
Ana has only two match wins under her belt this year losing in her first two tournaments of the year to Broady in Auckland and Pliskova in Sydney. She then went on to reach the third round of the Australian Open losing to Madison Keys in three sets this match was quite emotional for her as her coach collapsed during the second set. Ana has a bye into the second round where she will face either Gasparyan or Jovanovski. Of the two Gasparyan has had the best start to the year she made it to the 4th round of the Australian Open. Alize Cornet opens up against wildcard Elena Vesnina. Cornet had a good start to the year winning her first title since 2014 in Hobart beating Eugenie Bouchard in the final. Alize didn’t capitalize on this going into the Australian where she could have gone far when in her quarter Simona Halep was knocked out in the first round. Elena Vesnina hasn’t done much in the past year and has fallen out of the top 100. Also in this round Barbra Strycova takes on Monica Niculescu.
4th Quarter Vinci (2) V Schmiedlova (7)
Vinci is the second seed here she has had a good start to the season making the quarters of Brisbane and the 3rd round of the Australian Open like the other top 4 players she has a bye into the 2nd round where she will play either Yanina Wickmayer or Jelena Ostapenko. Wickmayer has only won one match this year in Sydney as has Ostapenko is beat Johanna Larsson in Auckland. I think that Ostapenko will come out on top here. Schmiedlova hasn’t had the season she had last year so far only winning two matches one against Timea Bacsinszky in Sydney and the other against Arina Rodionova. She will face wildcard Vikhlyantseva who sends most of the time playing at ITF level. The first round match sees Babos face a qualifier.
Bencic df Pavs
Mladenovic df Cibulkova
Ivanovic df Cornet
Vinci df Babos
Bencic df Mladenovic
Ivanovic df Vinci
Bencic df Ivanovic