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2021 Australian Open ladies’s singles preview: Ashleigh Barty secures respectable draw; Naomi Osaka searching for a second AO title

Forward of the long-awaited return of the Australian Open, Firstpost is analyzing the ladies’s singles draw and making an attempt to find out the potential consequence of the 4 quarters.

Over the previous two weeks, Tennis Australia – the organizing physique charged with the unenviable job of internet hosting a world match within the midst of a pandemic – has been pressured to cope with extra drama than you will see in an entire season of Maintaining with the Kardashians. A sequence of COVID-19 the instances mixed with pretty strict journey protocols have come collectively splendidly to serve a heady cocktail of disgruntled gamers, canceled tournaments and compelled withdrawals. But, for all that destiny has thrown in its means, as of now, the Australian Open continues to be happening.

So earlier than the long-awaited return of the Australian Open, First publish examines the ladies’s singles draw and makes an attempt to find out the potential consequence of the 4 quarters:

First shift

The primary and solely identify that jumps out at this neighborhood is Ashleigh Barty. The town heroine and Grand Slam winner has had a quite quiet 2020 as she selected to remain away for a lot of the truncated season after the Corona virus actually derailed the sports activities season, but it surely’s comeback and again in 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 supplied a spot within the remaining by a walkover, due to an injured Serena Williams.

There are a couple of athletes right here who might derail Barty’s try and turn out to be the primary Australian girl to win the Australian Open since Chris O’Neil in 1978. Ekaterina Alexandrova, Barty’s potential third-round opponent, is maybe slightly extra exceptional now than she was per week in the past, as she beat Simona Halep and Iga Swiatek on the Gippsland Trophy just some days in the past. There’s additionally the probability of a troublesome sport in opposition to Anett Kontaveit within the fourth spherical, who reached the quarter-finals of this match in 2020.

There’s additionally Karolina Pliskova to face. The sixth seed has lengthy threatened to interrupt into the higher echelons of the WTA roster, however has failed every time. Her inconsistency is disconcerting to say the least, however there is no cause to imagine she will’t make a superb punch with luck on her facet. If Pliskova is to lastly win her first Grand Slam title, she is going to doubtless need to overtake Belinda Bencic or Elise Mertens, who each look set to satisfy within the third spherical.

First spherical matches to look at: Karolina Muchova vs. Jelena Ostapenko

Potential semi-finalist: Ashleigh Barty

***

Second quarter

Sofia Kenin is a powerful contender to win this quarter, however issues have not gone just like the American’s recently. She was brilliantly crushed by Garbine Muguruza within the Australian Open warm-up match just some days in the past, and he or she has not regarded assured since her loss to Iga Swiatek within the remaining of Roland Garros.

2021 Australian Open women's singles preview Ashleigh Barty secures decent Naomi Osaka draw for second AO title

Sofia Kenin will begin the Australian Open in opposition to Maddison Inglis, a wild card participant. AP

Kenin will begin the match with a first-round match in opposition to Maddison Inglis, an Australian entry from the Wild Card who has but to make his means into the WTA Prime 100. From there, nonetheless, it solely turns into tougher. Within the second spherical, she is going to discover herself dealing with one in all Anastasija Sevastova or Kaia Kanepi, each seasoned professionals. Kanepi is at the moment in the course of a really sturdy run that took her to the Gippsland Trophy remaining, so she could possibly be a difficult proposition for the American.

The opposite facet of the quarter has a couple of good gamers, together with Elina Svitolina, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sakkari. Of those three, Svitolina appears probably the most harmful on paper, however Azarenka has had a fairly spectacular 2020 and he or she might simply make her means via this draw. Azarenka begins her marketing campaign in opposition to American Jessica Pegula, and can most certainly run into Sakkari within the third spherical. Svitolina, alternatively, might face an uphill battle early on, with proficient teenager Coco Gauff more likely to face him within the second spherical.

First spherical matches to look at: Maria Sakkari vs. Kristina Mladenovic; Anastasija Sevastova vs. Kaia Kanepi

Potential semi-finalist: Sofia kenin

***

Third quarter

General, this quarter seems to be comparatively straightforward to comply with. Naomi Osaka has a couple of dangerous clashes early within the match, however she actually should not be something to fret about. She kicks off her marketing campaign with a first-round draw in opposition to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, whom she beat with ease the final time the duo met. After that, she dangers assembly Caroline Garcia within the second spherical and Ons Jabeur within the third, each of whom have a setback of their information, however Osaka must undergo these video games.

2021 Australian Open women's singles preview Ashleigh Barty secures decent Naomi Osaka draw for second AO title

Naomi Osaka reached the semi-finals of the Gippsland Trophy – a tune-up occasion forward of the Australian Open – earlier than retiring with a shoulder harm. AP

The foremost impediment on the best way to Osaka is more likely to be earlier than the quarter-finals, as Garbine Muguruza and Angelique Kerber are potential encounters within the fourth spherical. Muguruza begins the match in opposition to Margarita Gasparyan, whereas Kerber faces American Bernarda Pera. Muguruza, who reached the ultimate within the earlier version of the match, enjoys a good head-to-head document in opposition to Kerber, and he or she is more likely to win if the duo meet within the third spherical.

The highest-ranked participant from the opposite half of this quarter is 2019 US Open winner Bianca Andreescu, however the 20-year-old Canadian could possibly be in for a troublesome match after lacking all the 2020-21 season because of a wound. One other participant to look at is veteran Petra Kvitova, who completed second in 2019 and reached the quarter-finals in 2020.

First spherical matches to look at: Naomi Osaka v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova; Bianca Andreescu vs. Mihaela Buzarnescu

Potential semi-finalist: Naomi Osaka

***

Fourth trimester

There’s all the time a ‘demise group’ in relation 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 astounding, with a number of the largest names within the sport arising in opposition to one another for this coveted semi-final. It is virtually inconceivable to guess who will come out of this quadrant, however the trio of Serena Williams, Simona Halep, and Iga Swiatek appear to be the highest contenders.

For Serena, issues are trying slightly powerful in the meanwhile, as a shoulder problem pressured her to withdraw from a spotlight occasion, however she’s recovered from the worst earlier than, so it might be silly to exclude it prematurely. Serena begins off with a match in opposition to Laura Siegemund, a participant who has by no means even managed to get her a set, whereas the primary seed Serena is more likely to meet is Alison Riske. Serena’s quarterback part appears largely easy, save for a possible fourth-round sport in opposition to Aryna Sabalenka. Sabalenka has simply gained a significant title in Abu Dhabi, and he or she might pose a risk to the American if she does a superb race.

2021 Australian Open women's singles preview Ashleigh Barty secures decent Naomi Osaka draw for second AO title

Serena Williams in motion on the Yarra Valley Traditional. AFP

Halep, who does not have to fret about Serena a minimum of heading into the quarter-finals, might be slightly involved in regards to the probability of dealing with Polish star Swiatek once more. Swiatek gained the 2020 French Open in a dominant trend, and maybe her largest scalp at this match was Halep’s, which she completely destroyed in straight units. The duo will most certainly meet once more within the fourth spherical, until there may be an early upset.

First spherical matches to look at: Iga Swiatek vs. Arantxa Rus

Potential semi-finalist: Serena williams

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