The official draw ceremony for the Australian Open was conducted on Thursday night and everything is ready for the first Grand Slam event of this new season. There promises to be many intriguing early round matches which could lead to some unexpected upsets.
First observation: Is it is just me or is it weird to see Serena’s name at the bottom of the draw instead of her usual spot at the top? She will not have an easy road to the title and it starts with a popcorn opener against Swiss rising star Belinda Bencic, who has slipped in the rankings because of injury. If the American wins that, she could meet Lucie Safarova in round two. But, perhaps strong opposition is exactly what Serena needs in her quest for her 23rd Grand Slam title. Other players who could potentially be in Serena’s path include Johanna Konta, Dominika Cibulkova, Agnieszka Radwanska, and Dominika Cibulkova… it could be a long road after all!
I know, we started with the bottom of the draw, but let’s now turn our attention to the top of the draw where defending champion and World No. 1 Angelique Kerber sits. If the German surprised people with her maiden Major in Melbourne last year, expectations in 2017 are very different, and it’s worth wondering how she will handle it all. Kerber posted just one win in her two warm up tournaments. She will open against world no. 61 Lesia Tsurenko. In week two, Kerber could face the likes of Roberta Vinci, Garbine Muguruza, and Simona Halep before the final.
As for our lone Canadian in the draw, 2014 Australian Open semifinalist Eugenie Bouchard has been given a favourable draw which starts against American Louisa Chirico, ranked no. 65 in the world. A second round match against no. 23 seed Daria Kasatkina could be in the cards. If Genie plays at the level we saw in Sydney this week, anything is possible!
If I had to pick a dark horse and a player to watch in Melbourne, it would have to be Brit (by way of Sydney) Johanna Konta. She had excellent prep with a semifinal appearance in Shenzhen and her second career WTA title in Sydney. Caroline Wozniacki and Cibulkova are among the notable players in her section of the draw.
Here’s the complete women’s draw.
Now it’s time for your predictions, enjoy the tennis!