Berlin 2021: Women's singles draw analysis, preview & prediction | bett1open

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka

After a fortnight of high-octane tennis action in Paris, the WTA tour moves to Berlin for the 2021 bett1open. The WTA 500 event makes its return to the tour for the first time since 2008.

Leading the field at this year's tournament are top seed Aryna Sabalenka, Elina Svitolina, Bianca Andreescu and Karolina Pliskova. Wimbledon winners Garbine Muguruza and Angelique Kerber are also in the mix.

With main draw action set to begin on Monday, here is a look at the prospects of the top names in the fray.

Top half: Aryna Sabalenka, Karolina Pliskova, Victoria Azarenka and Karolina Muchova fight for supremacy

Karolina Muchova
Karolina Muchova

Top-seeded players: [1] Aryna Sabalenka, [4] Karolina Pliskova, [7] Victoria Azarenka and [8] Karolina Muchova

Expected semifinal: Aryna Sabalenka vs Karolina Pliskova

Dark Horse: Karolina Muchova

Top seed Aryna Sabalenka finds herself in a tricky section of the draw. The Belarusian has been handed a bye in the opening round, but could face the big-hitting Madison Keys in the last 16.

The winner of that clash is likely to meet either eighth seed Karolina Muchova or Veronika Kudermetova, who play each other in an exciting first-round encounter.

Muchova made her Major breakthrough at Wimbledon two years ago. The Czech has an all-round game that is well suited to grass and could well cause a few upsets this week.

The other seeds in the top half, Karolina Pliskova and Victoria Azarenka, find themselves in similarly precarious sections.

The Czech could face the in-form Jessica Pegula in the second round, while Azarenka opens her campaign against German Andrea Petkovic. If the Belarusian advances, she will likely face another German, Angelique Kerber, in the next round.

Prediction: Aryna Sabalenka def. Karolina Pliskova

Bottom half: Elina Svitolina leads the pack

Garbine Muguruza
Garbine Muguruza

Top-seeded players: [2] Elina Svitolina, [3] Bianca Andreescu, [5] Belinda Bencic and [6] Garbine Muguruza

Expected semifinal: Elina Svitolina vs Bianca Andreescu

Dark horse: Sorana Cirstea

Sixth seed Garbine Muguruza opens her campaign against the dangerous Sorana Cirstea. The winner of the match could face Roland Garros quarterfinalist Elena Rybakina in the second round. Rybakina enjoys playing on grass and her big serve and powerful groundstrokes could pose a threat.

Also in this section is third seed Bianca Andreescu, who faces a tricky opening encounter against either Alize Cornet or Amanda Anisimova.

Fifth seed Belinda Bencic faces qualifier Jule Niemeier in her opener but things could get tricky for the Swiss in the latter rounds. She is likely to face Petra Martic in the second round followed by a potential meeting with second seed Elina Svitolina in the last eight.

The Ukrainian will be keen to put her underwhelming run in Paris firmly behind her and make a deep run in Berlin. But she will need to be wary of a potential second-round encounter with Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Prediction: Elena Rybakina def. Elina Svitolina

Prediction for the final

Aryna Sabalenka def. Elena Rybakina