- History will be tough to achieve for Serena Williams in a loaded draw, and Aussie hopes are firmly pinned on World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty
- The pressure has told on defending champion Sofia Kenin already – how will she cope with a first major defence?
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – With pressure mounting on the new and the old, who will come out on top of a loaded Australian Open women’s singles draw?
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 Ashleigh Barty
Australia will want their own to claim a second Slam title, and on paper she has a solid chance of continuing the solid progression she has made at her home slam from 3 first rounds, two third rounds and then a quarter-final and semi-final, could the last Saturday be on the cards?
Barty’s Path to the Final (Ranking/Seeding)
- R1: Danka Kovinic| H2H: First Meeting
- R2: Sara Sorribes Tormo | H2H: First Meeting
- R3: Ekaterina Alexandrova  | H2H: First Meeting
- R4: Petra Martic  | H2H: Barty leads 2-0
- QF: Karolina Pliskova  | H2H: Barty leads 4-2
- SF: Sofia Kenin  | H2H: Barty leads 4-2
- F: Simona Halep  | H2H: Halep leads 3-1
 Simona Halep
Despite looking troubled with her back in the stacked-up schedule to get the lead-in tournaments finished, Halep comes in with a decent draw, and if the brackets align, a potential quarter-final clash with Serena Williams after bouncing her in the Wimbledon final in 2019 is the treat we all will be looking forward to.
At this late stage of the lead-in tournaments, it probably is not worth reading to much into her loss against Ekaterina Alexandrova and instead a lot will rest on her early matches and how efficient she can be to get to the later stages.
Halep’s Path to the Final (Ranking/Seeding)
- R1: Lizette Cabrera [WC] | H2H: First Meeting
- R2: Aja Tomljanovic | H2H: Halep leads 3-0
- R3: Veronika Kudermetova  | H2H: First Meeting
- R4: Iga Swiatek  | H2H: Tied at 1-1
- QF: Serena Williams  | H2H: Williams leads 9-2
- SF: Naomi Osaka  | H2H: Halep leads 4-1
- F: Ashleigh Barty  | H2H: Halep leads 3-1
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 Naomi Osaka
There are a fair few first-time encounters if the draws go according to seeding for former champion Osaka. So far she has looked ok despite being handed a scare by Britain’s own Katie Boulter, as she continues the tune-up events.
There are no real shocks in her draw and she should be confident of a deep run.
Osaka’s Path to the Final (Ranking/Seeding)
- R1: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova | H2H: Tied at 1-1
- R2: Caroline Garcia | H2H: First Meeting
- R3: Ons Jabeur  | H2H: First Meeting
- R4: Garbine Muguruza  | H2H: First Meeting
- QF: Bianca Andreescu  | H2H: Osaka leads 1-0
- SF: Simona Halep  | H2H: Halep leads 4-1
- F: Ashleigh Barty  | H2H: Tied at 2-2
 Sofia Kenin
Heavy is the head that wears the current crown, of Kenin’s emotional response to losing in the lead-up tournament is anything to go by. The task of defending her maiden Slam title seems to be affected Kenin a lot, but she still has a draw that should see her into the second week.
It remains to be seen if she can embrace the challenge of defending her title, or whether it will overwhelm her.
Kenin’s Path to the Final (Ranking/Seeding)
- R1: Maddison Inglis | H2H: First Meeting
- R2: Anastasija Sevastova | H2: Kenin lead 3-0
- R3: Donna Vekic  | H2H: First Meeting
- R4: Johanna Konta  | H2H: Konta leads 1-0
- QF: Elina Svitolina  | H2H: Svitolina leads 3-2
- SF: Ashleigh Barty  | H2H: Barty leads 4-2
- F: Simona Halep  | H2H: Halep leads 1-0
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The Australian Open takes place between 8-21 February (GMT +11 hours)
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