Saturday, 14 January 2017

Aus Open Womens Singles Pick

The media has gone crazy over second seed Serena Williams having a horror draw in the Australian Open, and facing a possible first round exit.  Well this is of course a beat up, notwithstanding the abilities of Belinda Bencic, the Swiss player whose career has hit a number of hurdles over the past year or so, mostly through injury.

Irrespective, Serena will have little difficulty traversing round one, with Belinda, once ranked 7, but currently sitting at 59.
Seriously, the draw becomes problematic for the six time Aus Open champ around quarter final time, because she should have too many weapons for Barbora Strycova in the round of sixteen, which is where those two are likely to meet.

If Dominika Cibulkova can find the form which catapulted her to the WTA Finals title in November, then she and Johanna Konta, fresh from lifting the Apia International trophy in Sydney, are scheduled to fight out possibly one of the best fourth round matches of the tournament.  Konta would need to knock over Caroline Wozniacki before that match up but I don't see an issue there.  
The Domi v Johanna winner becomes Serena's quarter final challenge, possibly a bridge too far ?

Angie Kerber is top seed and defending champion - her seeded fourth round opponent is Roberta Vinci, but unseeded Genie Bouchard and exciting young Daria Kasatkina are in that section, and either could present themselves as a barrier to Kerber, given their form at the moment.
I would expect Angie to prevail despite her indifferent lead up efforts in Brisbane and Sydney, and Garbine Muguruza to be her quarter final opposition.  The seventh seeded Spaniard has a generous draw, at least on paper, to reach the final eight.

As does Simona Halep, the fourth seed.  After a testing first round encounter with American Shelby Rogers,  Halep may well find herself competing against another from the US, Venus Williams in the round of sixteen.  While it is silly to dismiss the chances of Venus, Halep has the answers to most of what the 36 year old can legitimately offer these days.

I believe that Simona will play Elina Svitolina in the quarter finals, following the 11th seeds great showing in Brisbane.  Eighth seed Sveta Kuznetsova is not to be discounted but I don't think there is quite enough variety in her game at present to push her over the line against Svitolina.

Third seed Aga Radwanska, runner-up in Sydney, has Brisbane finalist Alize Cornet in her section of the draw, and the two are seeded to meet in the third round.  Should she survive that tough one, 14th seed Elena Vesnina is the logical fourth round obstacle.  The other seed in her section is Samantha Stosur and her Aus Open record is less than inspiring.
I'm tipping Aga as a quarter finalist with plenty of confidence, but not as much as that which I have reserved for fifth seed Karolina Pliskova.

The Czech number one is the player of the season for me, and her Brisbane win sets her up to dominate early in Melbourne.  Karolina should play 12th seed Timea Bacsinszky in the fourth round, but Konjuh, Mladenovic or Gavrilova may reach that point if the cards fall right.
Whoever turns out to be the Pliskova opponent in the round of sixteen finishes her tournament with a fourth round losers cheque, while Pliskova continues on to play Radwanska in a quarter final.

My tip for what it is worth:

Karolina Pliskova to defeat Angie Kerber in the final, exacting revenge for the US Open final defeat in 2016 - the last GS tournament played.

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