Serena, Kerber, Osaka, Wozniacki lead top women in opening-week action

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Court Report: 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams says she's ready for 2019

 

Nine of the Top 10-ranked women in the world—as well as 18 of the Top 20 - are about to step back out onto tennis courts around the world as the 2019 tennis season kicks off in a matter of hours.

There are three WTA tournaments and one exhibition event—the Hopman Cup—taking place in Week 1 of the new season, and by far the biggest group of top women’s players are headed to the biggest of the three WTA tournaments, the Premier-level Brisbane International in Brisbane, Australia.

Seven Top 10 players will be in Brisbane (No. 4 Elina Svitolina, No. 5 Naomi Osaka, No. 6 Sloane Stephens, No. 7 Petra Kvitova, No. 8 Karolina Pliskova, No. 9 Kiki Bertens and No. 10 Daria Kasatkina) as well as two more Top 20 players (No. 11 Anastasija Sevastova and No. 12 Elise Mertens).

The two International-level WTA tournaments in Week 1 also have strong fields, starting with the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, which features two Top 20 players in No. 3 Caroline Wozniacki and No. 14 Julia Goerges (who played in the final last year, with Goerges winning) and a pair of former World No. 1s and multiple Grand Slam champions in Venus Williams and Victoria Azarenka.

Wozniacki, a two-time finalist in Auckland, is hoping to take it one step further this year. “I love playing there,” she said. “The crowds are always great and provide a lot of energy. I feel like I play well when I’m in New Zealand, making the finals twice, but I really want to take home the winners’ trophy!”

Three more Top 20 players - No. 13 Aryna Sabalenka, No. 19 Caroline Garcia and No. 20 Wang Qiang - will be at the Shenzhen Open, held in Shenzhen, China. Also in Shenzhen are 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko (who’s currently ranked just outside the Top 20 at No. 22) and five-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1 Maria Sharapova (who’s currently ranked No. 29 in the world).

Sharapova will be playing for the first time since the US Open due to recovery from a shoulder injury.

Several more big names in the women’s game are taking the exhibition court at Hopman Cup—No. 2 Angelique Kerber, No. 15 Ashleigh Barty, No. 16 Serena Williams and No. 18 Garbine Muguruza.

The 2019 season will be Williams’ first full season as a mom—she returned to the tour partway through the 2018 season at Indian Wells and went on to reach finals at two of the last three Majors.

“I cannot believe the year I had,” she told The National last week. “I have to say I always expect the best from myself, but reaching two Grand Slam finals back to back was beyond my expectations.

“It truly makes me excited for what’s ahead in 2019.”

The only two Top 20 players on the WTA who aren’t scheduled to play in Week 1 are No. 1 Simona Halep (who will kick off her season at the Premier-level event in Sydney in Week 2) and No. 17 Madison Keys (who isn’t actually entered into any lead-up events before the Australian Open).


This Week on Tennis Channel Plus:

Hopman Cup (Sat - Sat 12.29 - 1.5)
•    Roger Federer, Alexander Zverev, Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber headline the Hopman Cup. Watch live coverage on Tennis Channel Plus beginning Saturday 12/29 at 9:00pm ET.

ATP/WTA Brisbane (Sun - Sun 12.30 - 1.6)
•    Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Naomi Osaka and Sloane Stephens open their 2019 seasons in Brisbane. Live coverage from three courts begins on Tennis Channel Plus on Sunday 12/30 at 8:00pm ET.

WTA Auckland (Sun - Sun 12.30 - 1.6)
•    Catch the action from the ASB Classic including Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki. Live coverage begins on Tennis Channel Plus on Sunday 12/30 at 8:00pm ET.

WTA Shenzhen (Sat - Sat 12.29 - 1.5)
•    Watch first to last ball action from the Shenzhen Open featuring Maria Sharapova and Jelena Ostapenko beginning Saturday 12/29 at 11:00pm ET.

ATP Pune (Mon - Sat 12.31 - 1.5)
•    Watch Kevin Anderson, Marin Cilic and Hyeon Chung live from Pune starting Monday 12/31 at 6:30am ET.

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