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Charleston 2021: Women's singles draw analysis, preview & prediction | Volvo Car Open

Madison Keys is the defending champion
Madison Keys is the defending champion
ANALYST
Modified 04 Apr 2021
Feature

The field is set for the 2021 Volvo Car Open, the first tournament of the WTA claycourt season. Leading the pack is top seed and World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, who will be joined by former winners Madison Keys, Andrea Petkovic and Kiki Bertens.

Also crowding the draw at this year's edition are top 10 stars Petra Kvitova and Sofia Kenin, alongside fellow Grand Slam winners Sloane Stephens and Garbine Muguruza. With main-draw action set to begin on Monday, here's a look at the prospects of the top names in the fray.

Top half: Ash Barty and Belinda Bencic look to disrupt Madison Keys' title defence

Recently crowned Miami winner Ashleigh Barty is the top seed at this year
Recently crowned Miami winner Ashleigh Barty is the top seed at this year's tournament.

Expected semifinal: Ashleigh Barty vs Kiki Bertens

Analysis: Ashleigh Barty will open her campaign against the winner of the Yaroslava Shvedova vs Misaki Doi match. She will, however, need to keep an eye out for a possible third-round match against either Shelby Rogers or Amanda Anisimova, both of whom can offer some tough resistance to the top seed.

Belinda Bencic, Barty's prospective quarterfinal opponent, also has a tricky opening few rounds. Bencic is likely to go up against a slew of strong players early on - Paula Badosa, Elena Rybakina and Anastasija Sevastova.

Fourth seed Kiki Bertens, meanwhile, would have to rediscover her form quickly as she could face an in-form Veronika Kudermetova in the Round of 16. The Dutchwoman has suffered a few tough losses since her return last month, and will need to make significant improvements to avoid an upset here.

Madison Keys, the defending champion, finds herself in a similarly precarious position. She could well open her campaign against close friend and US Open champion Sloane Stephens.

If Keys were to come through that matchup, the likes of Markerta Vondrousova and Kudermetova/Bertens would await.

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Prediction: Ashleigh Barty vs Veronika Kudermetova

Dark horse: Anastasija Sevastova

Bottom half: Petra Kvitova, Garbine Muguruza, Sofia Kenin and Elise Mertens headline a packed section

Petra Kvitova (L) and Garbine Muguruza are headed for an intriguing quarterfinal clash
Petra Kvitova (L) and Garbine Muguruza are headed for an intriguing quarterfinal clash

Expected semifinal: Petra Kvitova vs Garbine Muguruza

Analysis: Petra Kvitova took a last-minute wildcard into the tournament and now finds herself in a jam-packed section of the draw. The Czech will need to be at her best to fend off the challenges from Marie Bouzkova and Leylah Fernandez early. If she is able to do that, Kvitova is likely to be rewarded with a Doha final rematch against Garbine Muguruza.

The Spaniard has a relatively simpler path to the last eight, but will need to be wary of former winner Andrea Petkovic - who gave Sofia Kenin a scare in Miami last week.

Two highly-anticipated first round matches anchor the last section. The winners of the Ons Jabeur vs Martina Trevisan and Coco Gauff vs Tsvetana Pironkova clashes are likely to put up a challenge for seventh seed Elise Mertens and second seed Sofia Kenin respectively.

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The winner of Gauff vs Pironkova, in particular, will be eyeing a big opportunity against a struggling Kenin. The 2020 Australian Open champion hasn't gotten the sort of start that she would have been hoping for in the new season, and an upset could definitely be on the cards here.

Prediction: Petra Kvitova vs Ons Jabeur

Dark horse: Tsvetana Pironkova

Notable first round matches

Magda Linette vs Amanda Anisimova

Andrea Petkovic vs Yulia Putintseva

Martina Trevisan vs Ons Jabeur

Coco Gauff vs Tsvetana Pironkova

Published 04 Apr 2021, 15:15 IST
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