It is now just a matter of days and the first slam of the season will start. The 15th of January will be day number 1 of the 106th edition of the Australian Open (Melbourne).
In the women’s draw, which is without a real queen this year, the tournament is pretty much open to all the possible surprises. The most important absences will surely be Serena William’s (defending champion) and Victoria Azarenka’s (we anticipated her withdrawal this in this article).
Before talking about the (many) possible outsiders, let’s have a look at the actual favorites to win it all; and it is not an easy thing to do.
Just to cite a few: Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina, Caroline Wozniacki, Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber. These are the top players that already showed a good form in these first two weeks of the 2018 wta tennis season; while some big names, that we still have some doubts on, are: Venus Williams, Garbiñe Muguruza, Caroline Garcia, Jelena Ostapenko and Johanna Konta.
As soon as we broaden up our view we find another group of players that may not be candidates for the final win, but that can still do very well and can be a possible surprise. Julia Goerges, Coco Vandeweghe, Anastasia Sevastova, Ashleigh Barty, Dominika Cibulkova, Petra Kvitova, Lucie Safarova and many more, without forgetting to mention Russian star Maria Sharapova.
In short, a women’s tournament that will tell us a lot and, as we said, very open to surprises. And talking about surprises, we have to be careful as players coming from the qualifying rounds will have already played 3 games and may be in better form and have higher confidence during the first days of main draw play.
If we take a closer look at the draw, it does not really show a stronger and a weaker half; it is pretty well balanced, but… While we can identify two big names in the bottom part, that should be favorite (Svitolina and Wozniacki), the top half of the draw is full of big names: Halep, Pliskova, Muguruza, Kerber and Sharapova.
Here we have Halep and Pliskova looking for their first career slam title: the Romanian (Halep) appears in very good form, coming from a victory in Shenzhen this season and should have a straight path to the 3rd round where she is set to play Kvitova.
Pliskova, who in Brisbane showed that her tennis can adapt very well to Australian hard courts (she only lost to Svitolina), appears in good form as well. Her draw looks easy for the first two rounds and she is set to play fellow country girl Lucie Safarova in the 3rd round and one between Konta (quarterfinalist last year) and Strycova.
As we anticipated, we still have doubts on both Muguruza and Garcia. They have the power to play a good tournament and could be playing a very interesting quarter final match against each other if they both get there; still a long way to go though and Angelique Kerber is in that part of the draw as well. The French player (Garcia) has a tough draw and we are still uncertain if she overcame that back injury that have her cry during the beginning of this season. The Spaniard (Muguruza), has withdrawn two times in this early season already (officially for spasms and thigh muscle problems). We will see if these problems were caused by a wrong preseason training or if those withdrawals were just a precautionary measure to be at her top for the Australian open.
Lastly, a quick word on Svitolina, number 4 in the world. Last year she showed everyone how tough it can be to win against her (especially on surfaces like hard and clay), showing intelligence and consistency. This year, she is off of a strong start as she won her 10th career title in Brisbane, where she defeated an exhausted Sasnovich in straight sets (6-2 6-1) in the final (the runner up made it all the way to the final from the qualifications).
— #BrisbaneTennis (@BrisbaneTennis) January 6, 2018
So, to recap, just keep in mind that basically all the top 5/6 players in the world have a chance in this Australian Open 2018 and with winning the tournament, all of them could overtake Halep as the number one player in the world.
Picking a winner in this tournament is a really difficult task, but here is a table with some outright odds and our estimated chance of win.
Some information about the women’s Australian Open 2018 and the tournament:
- 128-player draw (32 seeds)
- 104 players directly qualified
- 16 players from qualifications
- 8 wild cards (assigned by organizers)