Madrid Open 2019 women's draw: Osaka, Kvitova, Halep and Pliskova headline jam-packed field
The field has been set for the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open, the first Premier Mandatory tournament of the WTA calendar on clay. Here is a look at the prospects of the top players in the draw.
Expected quarterfinal: Naomi Osaka vs Karolina Pliskova
Dominika Cibulkova is a formidable opponent and can give top-seeded Naomi Osaka a tough time in their opening encounter. Even after that the road does not get any easier for Osaka, who has shown little intent outside of Grand Slams; she is likely to face in-form players Elise Mertens and Anett Kontaveit in the subsequent rounds.
Karolina Pliskova has a relatively easier draw, but she might have to be wary of big names like Belina Bencic and Svetlana Kuznetsova. Pliskova, however, has the game to come out of these encounters unscathed.
My picks: Anett Kontaveit vs Karolina Pliskova
Expected quarterfinal: Simona Halep vs Elina Svitolina
Simona Halep is a strong contender for the title in Madrid and she has been given a relatively easy draw for a change. With both Julia Goerges and Johanna Konta struggling with their form, it should be easy pickings for Halep.
Ashleigh Barty seems to be the only thing standing in Elina Svitolina's way of a quarterfinal spot in Madrid. It would make for an enticing encounter if the two were to meet in the third round here.
My picks: Simona Halep vs Elina Svitolina
Expected quarterfinal: Sloane Stephens vs Angelique Kerber
Sloane Stephens has not inspired much confidence with her form this year. The draw in Madrid hasn't done her any favours either, as she is set to face formidable opponents in Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.
Azarenka in particular looked to be in good stride in her quarterfinal run in Stuttgart. If she is feeling well and remains injury-free, she would fancy her chances in Madrid.
Donna Vekic has registered quite a few statement wins 2019 already and would be looking to continue her good run here. She might face Angelique Kerber in the third round, provided the German comes gets past Garbine Muguruza who is crowding the same section.
My picks: Victoria Azarenka vs Donna Vekic
Expected quarterfinal: Kiki Berterns vs Petra Kvitova
Kiki Bertens has not had a big result in the 2019 season yet, but has been solid throughout. She finds herself in the toughest section of the draw, which boasts of clay court mavericks Jelena Ostapenko, Anastsia Sevastova and Mihaela Buzarnescu. However, recent form would suggest that Bertens should come through these matches.
Petra Kvitova will be the one to beat in Madrid. High on confidence after her title run at Stuttgart, Kivtova would be looking to successfully defend her title and valuable ranking points in her pursuit of the World No. 1 ranking.
The Czech might face some resistance from Caroline Garcia and Madison Keys, but should not find it too hard to reach the last 8.
My picks: Kiki Bertens vs Petra Kvitova