By Britwatch Team

  • All eyes on Serena as she commences her bid for a record 7th title
  • Could we see a first time Slam winner on the women’s side

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Serena Williams talked a good talk at the draw ceremony but the women’s draw could be the most wide open it has been in years.

Britwatch Tennis: Full Draws and Schedules

Top Quarter Predictions: Serena Williams, Belinda Bencic

Leading the Top WTA stars stuttering at the start of the season, Williams caused concern with her knee issues at the Hopman Cup where she chose to start her season. It is not an easy start for the six-time champion, as she starts against feisty Camila Giorgi but from that point on should progress to a mouthwatering fourth round clash with her bestie on tour Caroline Wozniacki.

Wozniacki’s fortunes are in need of a turn. After a gloriously resurgent summer in 2014 which saw her reach her second Slam final in New York, her 2015 by comparison was less than stellar.

At the other end of the quarter, Maria Sharapova’s withdrawal from Brisbane, coupled with Agnieszka Radwanska’s run to silverware in Shenzhen dropped her into the danger zone of Williams’ quarter, and that is not even the most dangerous bit! Keep an eye out for Belinda Bencic. She may have stuttered a bit at the start of the season but she is a bit occasion player and has been making some big waves.

With Sharapova also struggling with injury, the way is clear for a new name to emerge, and a quarter-final to savour.

Second Quarter Predictions: Agnieszka Radwanska, Petra Kvitova

If we are sticking our neck out for a first time Grand Slam winner, then who better to step up to the plate that Radwanska. After winning the WTA Finals, albeit while looking like a bunny in the headlights at the time, Radwanska is set on going one better than her appearance at the Wimbledon final.

Assuming that potential third round opponent Sam Stosur continues to suffer with nerves in front of her home crowd, the Pole should prepare for a tougher prospect in the fourth round where she could face Sloane Stephens, also a title winner already this season, or Roberta Vinci who is swinging free in the knowledge that she is leaving tennis at the end of the year.

The rest of the quarter sees perhaps a face off between Carla Suárez Navarro who has a qualifier-heavy section, and Petra Kvitova, assuming she is over the gastro—intestinal illness that ruined her pre-Slam preparations.

 

Third Quarter Predictions: Angelique Kerber, Victoria Azarenka

Kerber stands out on early form as the name to watch in this quarter. She made a run to the Brisbane final, although pulled out of Sydney after battling in the heat in her opener, but she could face some spirited seeded opposition with Jelena Jankovic who is still full of surprises, if not drama, and Timea Bacsinszky, who wll try and capitalise on her great run of form over the last year,

However, she may come to wish that Victoria Azarenka would hurry up and get her ranking up already, as the Brisbane champion, and a two-time winner here in Melbourne is coming up fast on the rails. We have the prospect of a mouthwatering clash between the Belarusian and the third seed Garbiñe Muguruza, always assuming a couple of WTA Rising Stars in Caroline Garcia and Elina Svitolina don’t choose to upend the favourites on the way.

Bottom Quarter Predictions: Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep

Venus Williams may not be around for much longer but the eighth seed still has some tricks up her sleeve. Her main opposition though could be the fast rising Pliskova, and the Czech may well prevail here.

Waiting in the wings though is Madison Keys, who had such a great dash here last year, but can buckle under pressure at times. She should be able to scoot past an inconsistent Ana Ivanovic and assuming that No. 2 seed Simona Halep is fit enough to get past a feistily inviting second round encounter with Alizé Cornet, we could be in for a treat of a fourth round.

The top half of the women’s draw starts on Monday.

 

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