2018 Australian Open Expert Picks: The Women

by: Tennis.com | January 11, 2018

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Simona Halep is the world No. 1, but she has never won a Grand Slam title. (AP)



Svitolina is a tempting choice, considering her draw. But I’ll take Keys over the No. 4 seed in the final. Madison needs matches, but she should relish a Grand Slam stage away from New York—the site of a final she’d like to put firmly in the past. Her serve always gives her a heavyweight puncher’s chance.


The Australian Open is lacking two big power players in Serena and Azarenka. Svitolina is one of the biggest threats to capitalize on this opportunity, and she just won yet another title in Brisbane. The Ukrainian is brimming with confidence and boosted by a No. 4 seeding. This is her year for Grand Slam glory.


With many reservations, I pick Halep to garner her first major title. She will potentially face some difficult tests, including a likely third-round meeting with the ever-dangerous Kvitova. But she is well prepared for this major, and ready to validate her status as the top-ranked player in the world.


Two of the last three women’s majors have produced first-time, left-field champions. Why not make it a third? Svitolina has never been to a Slam semi, but she has played as well as anyone during the last 12 months.


This hasn’t been Wozniacki’s best event—her best finish was a semifinal in 2011—but I think she’ll break through this year. Wozniacki ended 2017 on a high note, winning the WTA Finals and finishing inside the Top 3. She’s now No. 2 and her form couldn’t be better.


Last year wasn’t kind to Halep, as she endured a heartbreaking loss in the French Open final, lost a tough quarterfinal at Wimbledon, and drew Maria Sharapova in the first round of the US Open. But with Serena not defending her title, Halep will come into this tournament motivated.

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Dark Horse (No. 20 or lower)

MCGROGANPetra Kvitova

Seeded a paltry 27th, Kvitova is, in reality, one of a handful of players I can envision lifting the trophy three Sundays from now. The two-time Grand Slam champion could face top-seeded Halep in a third-round marquee match.

PANTICAliaksandra Sasnovich

The relatively unknown Belarusian was huge in the Fed Cup final, and also just reached the final in Brisbane with wins over Mladenovic and Sevastova, to name a few. She has a complete game with many tricks up her sleeve, she never gives up, and her draw isn’t too shabby.

FLINKAngelique Kerber

The 2016 champion went into a tailspin last year. Now she has a clean slate and an opportunity to work her way back to the upper echelons. She might need to beat Muguruza and Halep just to make the final, but, if she survives the first week, she could win this tournament.

TIGNOR: Angelique Kerber

Now that she’s dropped from No. 1 to No. 21, the pressure is officially off. That showed in Sydney this week, where Kerber knocked off Venus Williams in the first round.

COHENAgnieszka Radwanska

Kerber might be the popular pick here, but I like where Radwanska is right now. The 28-year-old has made it to the semifinals at the Australian Open twice in her career, and she also knocked off Konta this week in Sydney. The former No. 2 clearly enjoys Oz, and I think she’ll make a deep run there.

NDEBELEAngelique Kerber

After winning her first two Grand Slam titles and ending the year as No. 1, Kerber ended 2016 on a major high. Last year was the exact opposite, as she suffered a major letdown. But the German seems rejuvenated and ready to reclaim her former glory.

Click here for our Expert Picks on the men's draw.

Bust (No. 10 or higher)

MCGROGANGarbine Muguruza

The No. 3 seed clearly isn’t at 100 percent, and she needs to be in order to navigate through a quarter that includes Radwanska, Kerber, Sevastova, Keys and Garcia.

PANTICJohanna Konta

The world No. 9 had a spectacular slide to end the 2017 season, and though she showed signs of life in Brisbane, her week would end in injury. What she needs in Melbourne is a few sitting ducks early on to get her momentum and confidence back. Instead, she plays a dangerous big-hitter in Brengle, who’s known for pulling off an upset.

FLINK: Karolina Pliskova

I am a big admirer of Pliskova when she is serving as only she can and making the running forehand as few can do. But the No. 6 seed could be in trouble this time around. I would be surprised to see her in the quarters.

TIGNORSimona Halep

With Serena away, this is Halep’s best chance at a Slam title. But she has lost early in Australia the last two years, and she may have to survive a third-rounder with Kvitova if she wants to avoid the same fate this time.

COHENSimona Halep

The Australian Open has been Halep’s worst Grand Slam; she’s never made it past the quarterfinals. And while it’s certainly possible that she can buck that trend, something tells me that the intense heat just isn’t a good match for her. Halep will win her first major this year—but it won’t be in Melbourne.

NDEBELE: Garbine Muguruza

Muguruza pulled out of her second tournament in two weeks with a right thigh injury this week. She enters the Australian Open without enough preparation, and coupled with the injury, it won’t be surprising if she suffers a first-round upset.


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