Preview: Serena Is Back, But So Is Everyone Else At The Australian Open
by Jeremy Davis | January 12th, 2019, 8:39 pm
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Last year a mere six players had a crack at leaving Australia with the No. 1 ranking. The 2019 Australian just told 2018 to hold its beer. Because this year ELEVEN women can walk away with the top spot. And none of them are named Serena Williams!

Of course realistically the number isn’t that high. Or maybe it should be when you consider the last eight Grand Slams have been won by eight different players.

Beyond that, just about everyone is entered which probably makes the tournament even more unpredictable if possible. And there at least one former Australian Open champion in every quadrant!

Here’s a look at the four quarters of the draw:

TOP QUARTER

Top 4 Seeds: (1) Simona Halep, (7) Karolina Pliskova, (10) Daria Kasatkina, (16) Serena Williams
Floaters: Venus Williams, Kaia Kanepi, Alize Cornet, Sam Stosur, Eugenie Bouchard, Johanna Konta, (18) Garbine Muguruza
Notes: With Halep, Serena and Venus plus Konta, Bouchard and Muguruza, this top quarter is by far the toughest quadrant of the draw. It’s not even close…. Former semifinalists Bouchard and Konta could factor…Muguruza is a complete mystery…And Halep just lost to Kanepi in the first round at the US Open. Uh oh!… Then the Williams sisters are in there, and the family didn’t take home a Slam last year, so they are hungry and Serena hasn’t played an official match since the Osaka meltdown… Venus though struggled in Slams last year and the 38-year-old starts the new season without a coach… Serena plays Australia for the first time as a mom.

2ND QUARTER
Top 4 Seeds: (4) Naomi Osaka, (6) Elina Svitolina, (12) Elise Mertens, (13) Anastasija Sevastova
Floaters: (21) Wang Qiang, (17) Madison Keys, (26) Dominika Cibulkova, Victoria Azarenka
Notes: Can Osaka build off of the US Open? This section is there for the taking…Maybe Sevastova makes another improbable run or Keys finds the range… Mertens has been a disappointment and has a ton of points to drop, so she’ll feel the pressure as well as the heat… Svitolina has a good draw, but she has that innate talent to screw it up…Meanwhile, watch out for these teens like Aiava, Potapova and Osuigwe…Former semifinalist Keys and finalist Cibulkoba could also do damage.

3RD QUARTER
Top 4 Seeds: (3) Caroline Wozniacki, (8) Petra Kvitova, (11) Aryna Sabalenka, (15) Ash Barty
Floaters: (22) Jelena Ostapenko, (30) Maria Sharapova, Maria Sakkari, Belinda Bencic, Amanda Anisimova
Notes: While there a bunch of big names in this section with former champions Wozniacki and Sharapova plus Grand Slam winners Kvitova and Ostapenko, ultimately someone like Sabalenka or Barty could get through… Other than Beijing, its been tough for the defending champ Wozniacki the last six months or so, busy planning her wedding to NBA-er David Lee… Kvitova just won Sydney over Barty, but the Czech could be burnt out and she doesn’t do well in hot temperatures… Bencic-Siniakova is sneaky good, as is Putintseva-Strycova which should have some fireworks… This section could go many ways.

BOTTOM QUARTER
Top 4 Seeds: (2) Angelique Kerber, (5) Sloane Stephens, (9) Kiki Bertens, (14) Julia Goerges
Floaters: (19) Caroline Garcia, (20) Anett Kontaveit, Marketa Vondrousova, Aliaksandra Sasnovich
Notes: Not a lot of depth in this section which should go chalk with the top four seeds… Kerber is the only former champion while Stephens made the semifinals five years, but continues to show inconsistency… Stephens-Townsend is interesting as is Goerges-Collins… Kerber a good bet here with Bertens a strong darkhorse.

The Australian Open was first held in 1905, with the first women’s singles championship being staged in 1922. This is the 93rd staging of the women’s singles championship and the 51st of the Open Era, which began in 1968 (1969 for Australian Open) and saw the introduction of prize money.


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