Australian Open 2021 ladies’s singles preview: Ashleigh Barty will get first rate draw; Naomi Osaka gunning for second AO title
Forward of the Australian Open’s long-awaited return, Alenz takes a have a look at the ladies’s singles draw and makes an attempt to find out the potential final result of all 4 quarters
The final couple of weeks have seen Tennis Australia — the organising physique bestowed with the unenviable process of internet hosting a world match amidst a pandemic — compelled to take care of extra drama than you’d discover in a complete season of Maintaining with the Kardashians. A string of COVID-19 circumstances mixed with fairly strict journey protocols have come collectively superbly to serve up a heady cocktail of disgruntled gamers, cancelled tournaments and compelled withdrawals. But one way or the other, in the end that destiny has thrown in its path, as of proper now, the Australian Open continues to be occurring.
So forward of the Australian Open’s long-awaited return, Alenz takes a have a look at the ladies’s singles draw and makes an attempt to find out the potential final result of all 4 quarters:
The primary and solely title that jumps out upon a cursory look at this quarter is that of Ashleigh Barty. The hometown hero and one-time Grand Slam winner had a fairly quiet 2020, as she selected to take a seat out a lot of the truncated season after the coronavirus really derailed the sporting season, however she’s again, and again in some type. Barty gained the primary three of her matches within the Yarra Valley Traditional, a tune-up occasion for the Australian Open, earlier than being gifted a spot within the ultimate by a walkover, courtesy of an injured Serena Williams.
There are a few athletes in right here that may derail Barty’s try and change into the primary Australian lady to win the Australian Open since Chris O’Neil in 1978. Ekaterina Alexandrova, Barty’s potential third-round opponent, is one who could be slightly extra exceptional now than she was per week in the past, seeing as she beat each Simona Halep and Iga Swiatek within the Gippsland Trophy simply days in the past. There’s additionally the likelihood of a troublesome matchup towards Anett Kontaveit in spherical 4, who reached the quarter-finals of this match in 2020.
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There’s additionally Karolina Pliskova to take care of. The sixth-seed has long-threatened to interrupt into the higher echelons of the WTA roster, however has fallen quick on each earlier event. Her inconsistency is baffling to say the least, however there is no cause to consider that she will’t make a superb fist of it with luck on her aspect. If Pliskova is to lastly win her first Grand Slam title, she’ll possible need to get previous one in all both Belinda Bencic or Elise Mertens, each of whom look set to run into one another within the third spherical.
First-round matches to observe: Karolina Muchova vs Jelena Ostapenko
Potential semi-finalist: Ashleigh Barty
Sofia Kenin is a robust contender to win this quarter, however issues have not been going the American’s method of late. She was crushed handily by Garbine Muguruza within the warm-up match for the Australian Open just some days in the past, and she or he’s not regarded her normal assured self since her defeat by the hands of Iga Swiatek within the French Open ultimate.
Kenin will start the match with a first-round match towards Maddison Inglis, an Australian Wild Card entry who’s but to interrupt into the WTA top-100. From that time on, nonetheless, it solely will get tougher. Within the second spherical, she is going to discover herself up towards one in all both Anastasija Sevastova or Kaia Kanepi, each of whom are seasoned professionals. Kanepi is at the moment within the midst of a very good run which has taken her all the best way to the ultimate of the Gippsland trophy, so she could possibly be a tough proposition for the American.
The opposite aspect of the quarter has just a few good gamers in it, together with the likes of Elina Svitolina, Victoria Azarenka, and Maria Sakkari. Of those three, Svitolina seems essentially the most harmful on paper, however Azarenka had fairly a formidable 2020, and she or he may simply navigate a path by this draw. Azarenka begins her marketing campaign towards American Jessica Pegula, and can probably run into Sakkari in spherical three. Svitolina, then again, may face a tough battle early on, with the proficient teenager Coco Gauff more likely to face her within the second spherical.
First-round matches to observe: Maria Sakkari vs Kristina Mladenovic; Anastasija Sevastova vs Kaia Kanepi
Potential semi-finalist: Sofia Kenin
All in all, this quarter looks as if it is comparatively straightforward to name. Naomi Osaka has a few dangerous matchups within the early levels of the match, however there actually should not be something to fret her. She kicks off her marketing campaign with a first-round tie towards Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who she beat with ease the final time the pair met. After that, she’s more likely to run into Caroline Garcia within the second spherical and Ons Jabeur within the third, each of whom have an upset of their locker, however Osaka ought to sail by these matches.
The most important impediment in Osaka’s path is more likely to come earlier than the quarter-finals, seeing as each Garbine Muguruza and Angelique Kerber are potential fourth-round encounters. Muguruza begins the match towards Margarita Gasparyan, whereas Kerber will tackle American Bernarda Pera. Muguruza, who reached the ultimate within the earlier version of the match, enjoys a good head-to-head report towards Kerber, and she or he is more likely to come out on high if the pair meet within the third spherical.
The best-seeded participant within the different half of this quarter is the 2019 US Open winner Bianca Andreescu, however the 20-year-old Canadian could possibly be in for a tough match after having missed the whole 2020-21 season by damage. One other participant value maintaining a tally of is veteran Petra Kvitova, who completed runner-up in 2019 and made it to the quarter-finals in 2020.
First-round matches to observe: Naomi Osaka vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova; Bianca Andreescu vs Mihaela Buzarnescu
Potential semi-finalist: Naomi Osaka
There’s at all times a ‘group of loss of life’ relating to knockout tournaments, and on this version of the Australian Open ladies’s singles draw, it needs to be the fourth quarter. The standard on show right here is staggering, with a few of the largest names within the recreation discovering themselves up towards one another for that coveted semi-final slot. It is nigh unattainable to guess at who will make it out of this quadrant, however the trio of Serena Williams, Simona Halep and Iga Swiatek look like the very best contenders.
For Serena, issues are trying slightly tough in the intervening time, as a shoulder subject compelled her withdrawal from a tune-up occasion, however she’s recovered from worse earlier than, so it might be silly to rule her out prematurely. Serena begins with a match towards Laura Siegemund, a participant who has by no means even managed to take a set off of her, whereas the primary seeded-player Serena is more likely to run into is Alison Riske. Serena’s part of the quarter seems largely uncomplicated, save for a possible fourth-round tie towards Aryna Sabalenka. Sabalenka is contemporary off of a significant title win in Abu Dhabi, and she or he may pose a risk to the American if she places a superb run collectively.
Halep, who doesn’t have to fret about Serena till at the least the quarter-final, will probably be slightly involved concerning the likelihood of going through Polish star Swiatek once more. Swiatek gained the French Open 2020 in dominant trend, and maybe her largest scalp at that match was that of Halep, who she completely destroyed in straight units. The duo will probably meet but once more within the fourth spherical, except there’s an early upset.
First-round matches to observe: Iga Swiatek vs Arantxa Rus
Potential semi-finalist: Serena Williams
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