Australian Open 2020: Women's singles draw analysis, preview and prediction (top half)
- Barty, Osaka, Kvitova and the Williams sisters crowd a very competitive top half, but who will come through in the end?
After last year's memorable women's singles final between Naomi Osaka and Petra Kvitova, the excitement around the women's tournament at the 2020 Australian Open is greater than ever.
The draw was announced on Thursday and immediately sent shock-waves throughout the tennis circuits with news of an unusually competitive top half. The section features as many as seven Grand Slam champions, and a blockbuster first round match-up between Venus Williams and Coco Gauff.
Now, as the dust settles over the draw, we take a look at the prospects of some of the big names in the top half.
Expected fourth round: Ashleigh Barty vs Petra Matric
Analysis: An ever-improving Ashleigh Barty will enter this year's Australian Open as the top seed, carrying a huge amount of pressure from home fans. Her first round opponent, a very talented Lesia Tsurenko, will be the prefect test for the World No. 1, who despite a poor start to 2020 has found her rhythm in Adelaide.
Also in this section are three particularly dangerous women - the big-hitting Julia Goerges and the versatile duo of Petra Matric and Alison Riske. To see one of these three come through their part of the draw will be, without a doubt, one of the highlights of the opening week.
Prediction: Ashleigh Barty vs Alison Riske
Expected fourth round: Madison Keys vs Petra Kvitova
Analysis: Another big contest to watch out for at this year's tournament will be a prospective fourth round match-up between Madison Keys and Petra Kvitova. The two women have already met once this year, with the American winning in a high-quality three-set match.
Keys does have a tricky path with hurdles at every step in the form of opponents like Daria Kasatkina, Magda Linette and Maria Sakkari. But if she manages to come through, except another showcase match against Kvitova, who has a relatively easier first few rounds.
Prediction: Madison Keys vs Petra Kvitova
Expected fourth round: Naomi Osaka vs Sofia Kenin
Analysis: One would expect this section to be all about defending champion Naomi Osaka, but that's far from the case. The highlight of the opening day, as has been proclaimed, will be a rematch of last year's Wimbledon first round between Venus Williams and Coco Gauff.
And that not it, as the winner will in all likelihood take on Osaka soon after to further heat up the race. Another big all-American battle between Sloane Stephens and Sofia Kenin makes this is an absolutely riveting section of the draw.
Prediction: Naomi Osaka vs Sofia Kenin
Expected fourth round: Johanna Konta vs Serena Williams
Analysis: British No. 1 Johanna Konta and former World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki will fight it out for a fourth round spot in this section. But Wonzniacki, playing in her last professional tournament, will have to be wary of a very strong contender in Dayana Yastremska early on.
Serena, if she can maintain the form that she was in at the ASB Classic, should make it to the last 16 comfortably despite a couple of tricky names like Anastasia Potapova and Alison Van Uytvanck in her side of the draw.
Prediction: Caroline Wozniacki vs Serena Williams