Guadalajara 2021: Women's singles draw analysis, preview & prediction | Abierto Zapopan

Nadia Podoroska
Nadia Podoroska
Sudeshna Banerjee

The Abierto Zapopan was a WTA 125K tournament in 2019, but it has been promoted to the WTA 250 level now. After its second edition got canceled last year due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Guadalajara event has come back with a bang in 2021, attracting quite a few big names.

Top seed Nadia Podoroska will be looking to taste title glory for the first time. Rising star and second seed Marie Bouzkova is another name who will be keen to win her maiden WTA crown this week.

Main draw action at the 32-player field kicks off on 8 March, with the grand finale scheduled for 13 March. On that note, let us take an in-depth look at the draw.

Top half: Nadia Podoroska, Kaja Juvan, Anna Blinkova and Eugenie Bouchard packed in the same section

Eugenie Bouchard
Eugenie Bouchard

Seeded players: (1) Nadia Podoroska, (3) Anna Blinkova, (6) Danka Kovinic, (8) Kaja Juvan

Expected semifinal: Nadia Podoroska vs Anna Blinkova

Dark horse: Kaja Juvan

Analysis: All eyes will be on Argentina's Nadia Podoroska, who will receive the lion's share of the Latin American support in her quest to win her first title.

The World No. 45 burst onto the scene by making the semifinals of Roland Garros 2020 as a qualifier. The Argentine then shone at Linz and the Yarra Valley Classic, reaching the quarterfinals of both events.

The Australian Open and the Phillip Island Trophy were aberrations in what has otherwise been an impressive run for Podoroska. After winning a total of just one match in those two tournaments, the 24-year-old will now be itching to get back to her best.

Podoroska opens her Guadalajara campaign against a qualifier, but would need to contend with a lot of emerging stars as she progresses deeper into the draw. One of those is 20-year-old Varvara Gracheva, who could be her quarterfinal opponent.

Third seed Anna Blinkova is the highest seed in the opposite section of this half. The World No. 69 is coming into this tournament on the back of three solid wins in the qualifying rounds of the Qatar Open.

Blinkova will be hoping to build on that, but needs to be wary of the talented Catherine McNally who could meet her in the second round. McNally won two rounds at the US Open, and has the game to play on hardcourts.

Kaja Juvan
Kaja Juvan

Kaja Juvan in the quarters could pose quite a challenge for Blinkova. The 20-year-old made a statement at the Australian Open by reaching the third round from qualifying, and is coming in with a lot of momentum.

But Juvan will likely need to get past former Wimbledon runner-up Eugenie Bouchard first; the two are slated to meet in the second round.

Semifinal prediction: Nadia Podoroska vs Kaja Juvan

Bottom half: Marie Bouzkova, Leylah Fernandez, Viktorija Golubic and Sara Sorribes Tormo to fight for supremacy

Marie Bouzkova
Marie Bouzkova

Seeded players: (2) Marie Bouzkova, (4) Sara Sorribes Tormo, (5) Nao Hibino, (7) Leylah Fernandez

Expected semifinal: Marie Bouzkova vs Sara Sorribes Tormo

Dark horse: Leylah Fernandez

Analysis: World No. 50 Marie Bouzkova, who heads this section of the draw, starts her campaign against Irina Bara. The Czech has begun the season in fine fashion, reaching the final of the Phillip Island Trophy.

Bouzkova's path looks smooth until the semifinals, where she could face some quality opponents from the loaded third quarter of the draw. Leylah Fernandez and Viktorija Golubic are two names that stand out from that section.

Golubic has reached the final at Lyon this week and might be primed for another deep run unless fatigue creeps in.

Leylah Fernandez
Leylah Fernandez

Fernandez, meanwhile, has been making rapid strides on the circuit and is touted to have a great future. The 18-year-old Canadian made heads turn with her stupendous performance at Acapulco last year, where she reached the final. Semifinal prediction: Marie Bouzkova vs Leylah Fernandez

Prediction for final

Nadia Podoroska vs Marie Bouzkova

Predicted champion

Marie Bouzkova

Edited by S Chowdhury
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