World No. 1 Serena Williams’ only match preparation for the Australian Open came at the Hopman Cup, where she withdrew without completing a match due to a knee issue. As her coach has said her knee is pretty much bone on bone with little cartilage left, how is it going to heal over seven matches?
Add to that the world No. 1 did not receive a favorable draw, with former No. 1s Caroline Wozniacki and Maria Sharapova in her path prior to the semifinals, and it doesn’t look good for the defending champ.
If Serena is worried about her draw, she didn’t show it at the draw ceremony.
“Everything’s actually really well,” she said. “I’m feeling really good. I’m excited about it. I’ve been training every day.”
We’re excited about it too. Especially after Serena and nine of the Top 10 players pulled out of events during the first two weeks with injuries of illnesses. I’m warily buying a ticket, and expecting a refund.
Here is a look at the four quarters of the women’s draw:
Top 4 Seeds: (1) Serena Williams, (5) Maria Sharapova, (12) Belinda Bencic, (16) Caroline Wozniacki
Floaters: Camila Giorgi, Alison Riske
Notes: The top-seeded Serena will start against Giorgi, who should swing away with nothing to lose, and if Serena comes out nervous or injured, it could be a tight one…After that the world No. 1 is looking at Wozniacki in the fourth round, then Sharapova or Bencic in the quarterfinals…Tough start for (12) Bencic against the hot-handed Riske.
Top 4 Seeds: (4) Aggie Radwanska, (6) Petra Kvitova, (10) Carla Suarez Navarro, (13) Roberta Vinci
Floaters: (24) Sloane Stephens, (25) Sam Stosur, Genie Bouchard, Dominika Cibulkova, Christina McHale
Notes: An easy road for Kvitova if she has shaken off the illness….Potential tough start for (4) Radwanska vs. McHale…Lotsa land mines for the top seeds, especially Radwanska with Stosur in the third round then Stephens….Nice draw for Suarez Navarro to go deep in this section.
Top 4 Seeds: (3) Garbine Muguruza, (7) Angie Kerber, (11) Timea Bacsinszky, (14) Victoria Azarenka
Floaters: (19) Jelena Jankovic
Notes: Not a lot of floating talent in this quarter but plenty of opportunities…The hot-handed Azarenka could cruise into the fourth round against Muguruza…Kerber could likewise meet little resistance until Jankovic in the fourth round.
Top 4 Seeds: (2) Simona Halep, (8) Venus Williams, (9) Karolina Pliskova, (15) Madison Keys
Floaters: (20) Ana Ivanovic, (30) Sabine Lisicki, Zarina Diyas, Alize Cornet
Notes: Watch for (15) Keys who hasn’t played a match yet this year against Diyas, and Keys if she is healthy vs. Ivanovic 3rd rd.?…(2) Halep, who hasn’t looked strong with her Achilles injury, starts against a qualifier, then likely Cornet 2nd rd…Halep and Venus, if they get that far, would make an intriguing quarterfinal.
I’d pick the semifinalists and finalists, but in this soup of injuries and illnesses, anything goes this year on the women’s side at the Aussie Open. What a change a couple of months makes.
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