2019 Australian Open Expert Picks: The Women

by: Tennis.com | January 10, 2019

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Go to our Australian Open tournament page to view the full women's draw.


Champion

STEVE TIGNOR: Serena Williams

After a year to have a child and a year to fully recover, Serena may be ready to her old self again: i.e., the world's best player.

ED MCGROGAN: Angelique Kerber

Kerber's 2016 and 2018 seasons included five trips to the final four at majors. She's a big-match player and impressively wiped away her head-scratching 2017. The German likes the hard courts in Melbourne, and she's on the easier half of the draw.

NINA PANTIC: Aryna Sabalenka

The 20-year-old won two titles last year, including a pretty big one in Wuhan. She’s still unpredictable, but she already acts like a champion. It’s only a matter of time before she’s winning majors, and the surface—and general jitteriness of players so early in the year—will only help her.

STEVE FLINK: Serena Williams

She will probably meet Simona Halep in the round of 16 and Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals, but the quick courts will help Serena. A major rematch with Naomi Osaka in the semifinals looms, but Williams has the drive and experience to take the crown.

JOEL DRUCKER: Angelique Kerber

A past champion with a comfortable draw is a perennial threat to win a major. Kerber’s run at Wimbledon last year added luster, credibility and that ethereal notion known as confidence. Added bonus: Kerber’s exceptional fitness level. 

ZACH COHENSerena Williams

Serena is 8-1 in her career against Halep, and the Australian Open hasn’t exactly been kind to the Romanian, despite her runner-up finish last year. Meanwhile, Serena was the runner-up at two Grand Slams in 2018. This feels like a good opportunity for her to break through. 

ASHLEY NDEBELE: Serena Williams

Serena ‘s quarter is loaded with heavyweights, but tough draw or not, she’s a woman on a mission to tie Margaret Court’s 24 Grand Slam singles titles. She came short last year at Wimbledon and at the US Open, but the third time should be a charm.



Dark Horse (Seeded No. 20 or lower)

STEVE TIGNOR: Qiang Wang

The Chinese native turns 27 this month, and she's never been past the second round in Melbourne, but she came to life at the end of 2018.

ED MCGROGAN: Belinda Bencic

Still unseeded, the 21-year-old has been one of the hottest players in the sport over the past few months, rolling through draws at lower-level tournaments. It's starting to translate to the bigger events—she's into the semis at Hobart—and has regained her confidence. Winning alongside Roger Federer at the Hopman Cup doesn't hurt, either.

NINA PANTIC: Victoria Azarenka

She’s won two titles Down Under, and she can take advantage of her draw, which includes a returning Laura Siegemund and a nervous Osaka. If Azarenka is going to rediscover her peak form, it will be in Melbourne.

STEVE FLINK: Anett Kontaveit

If she can take advantage of her draw, she has a path to a quarterfinal with Kerber.

JOEL DRUCKER: Maria Sharapova

As great a competitor as Sharapova is, might the game be passing her by? Or can this Aussie Open be the place where she emphatically answers in the negative and once more earns a seat at the big table?   

ZACH COHENAlaksandra Sasnovich

Sasnovich has already made some noise in Australia, upsetting Elina Svitolina in Brisbane and beating Kasatkina in Sydney. She has the ability to mess things up in her portion of the bracket; it helps that Sloane Stephens would be one of her highest-seeded opponents, as the American has looked miserable early in the year.

ASHLEY NDEBELE: Donna Vekic

Vekic started the season with a bang, breaking into the Top 30 for the first time following her Brisbane semifinal run. She starts against a big hitter in Kristina Mladenovic, and could face Kerber in the third round.



Bust (Seeded No. 10 or higher)

STEVE TIGNOR: Simona Halep

Will anyone pick to the top seed to win her opening match? She faces Kaia Kanepi, a player she dreads playing, and a player who beat her in the first round at last year's US Open.

ED MCGROGAN: Simona Halep

The Romanian was dealt a brutal hand, starting with her opener against heavy-hitting Kanepi. She might have to beat both Williams sisters just to reach the quarterfinals. It's the kind of draw an unseeded player might expect, not the top seed.

NINA PANTIC: Sloane Stephens

It’s hard to predict which Stephens will step onto the court and this year, she won’t have any time to find her form as she takes on the tricky Taylor Townsend right away. Stephens usually needs some matches to find her groove, so look her to make a bigger impact at the other Slams. 

STEVE FLINK: Sloane Stephens

The No. 5 seed is not in the right psychological place right now. I don’t see her surviving the first week.

JOEL DRUCKER: Elina Svitolina

Quite similar to Zverev—lots of quality results everywhere but the majors. Though her path looks smooth, we’ve said that before and watched her stumble. 

ZACH COHENDaria Kasatkina

The 21-year-old hasn’t made it past the third round in three appearances Down Under, and it’s hard to imagine her doing too much damage this year. She could face either Johanna Konta or Garbine Muguruza in the third round, and might face Pliskova in the fourth. It won’t be easy for the Russian to beat any of those players, let alone more than one.

ASHLEY NDEBELE: Caroline Wozniacki

This is the first time Wozniacki has been tasked with defending a Grand Slam title. The second half of last season wasn’t kind to the No. 3 seed, which saw her lose in the second round of the last two Slams. She could face Maria Sharapova in the third round.


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