San Jose 2021: Women's singles draw analysis, preview & prediction | Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic

Elise Mertens is the top seed
Elise Mertens is the top seed

With tennis at the Tokyo Olympics coming to an end shortly, it's time to turn our attention to the American hardcourt swing, which kicks off with the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, California on the women's side.

Started in 1971, the tournament has featured some of the biggest names in tennis history, including Martina Navratilova, Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert and Serena Williams among others.

It has attracted quite a few top names this year as well. World No. 17 Elise Mertens leads the 32-player field with Tokyo Olympics semifinalist Elena Rybakina seeded second. Former champion Madison Keys and St. Petersburg winner Daria Kasatkina round out the top four seeds.

The main draw action kicks off on 2 August, with the final scheduled for 8 August. On that note, here's an in-depth look at how the draw might unfold:

Top half: Ajla Tomljanovic, Amanda Anisimova, Daria Kasatkina look to topple Elise Mertens

Ajla Tomljanovic
Ajla Tomljanovic

Seeded players: [1] Elise Mertens, [4] Daria Kasatkina, [6] Petra Martic, [8] Yulia Putintseva

Expected semifinal: Elise Mertens vs Daria Kasatkina

Dark horse: Ajla Tomljanovic

Analysis: As the top seed, Elise Mertens is expected to come through this half of the draw. But the Belgian has struggled for form in singles in the past few weeks.

Since the Madrid Open in May, the World No. 17 hasn't reached the last eight in six successive tournaments. Most recently, she suffered a first-round defeat to Ekaterina Alexandrova at the Tokyo Olympics.

The two-time US Open quarterfinalist will look to bounce back during the hardcourt swing. Having received a bye in the first round, Mertens is likely to face Kristina Mladenovic in the second.

Things could get tricky thereafter, with one of Ajla Tomljanovic, Amanda Anisimova, Yulia Putintseva and the resurgent Donna Vekic potentially lying in wait in the quarterfinals.

Tomljanovic and Anisimova face off in a blockbuster first-round clash with Vekic and Putintseva squaring off in another.

Daria Kasatkina
Daria Kasatkina

Fourth seed Daria Kasatkina, meanwhile, has a comparatively easy path to the semifinals. After a first-round bye, she will likely have to tackle the inconsistent Caroline Garcia in her first match of the tournament.

The winner of the first-round clash between the sixth seed Petra Martic and Eastbourne quarterfinalist Anastasija Sevastova could meet the Russian in the last eight. Kasatkina has never lost to the Latvian and she beat Martic earlier this year, so she will fancy her chances of reaching the semifinals.

Semifinal prediction: Ajla Tomljanovic vs Daria Kasatkina

Bottom half: Madison Keys, Danielle Collins lie in wait for Elena Rybakina

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina

Seeded players: [2] Elena Rybakina, [3] Madison Keys, [5] Veronika Kudermetova, [7] Danielle Collins

Expected semifinal: Elena Rybakina vs Madison Keys

Dark horse: Danielle Collins

Analysis: After a fantastic showing at the Olympics, second seed Elena Rybakina will be looking to continue her heroics in San Jose. The Kazakh has been given a bye in the first round, which means she will have time to recover from her exploits in Tokyo.

The French Open quarterfinalist will face either Dayana Yastremska or Claire Liu in her opener. The challenge should get tougher from the quarterfinals for the World No. 20 with Palermo champion Danielle Collins lurking. Former US Open champion Sloane Stephens is also a player that can cause Rybakina some problems.

Madison Keys
Madison Keys

Third seed Madison Keys, meanwhile, has had an underwhelming season. But she did find her rhythm during the grasscourt swing. The 2017 champion arrives at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic on the back of a quarterfinal finish in Berlin and a fourth-round appearance at Wimbledon.

Keys could begin her campaign against British rising star Emma Raducanu, who made a splash at the grasscourt Major by reaching the fourth round on debut. Keys should be able to make it to the quarterfinals without too much trouble. But she could face fifth seed Veronika Kudermetova in the last eight.

The Charleston champion comes to San Jose on the back of a tough loss in the women's doubles bronze medal match at the Olympics. If she can shake off the disappointment, she should be able to make a deep run.

Semifinal prediction: Danielle Collins vs Madison Keys

Prediction for the final

Daria Kasatkina vs Danielle Collins

Predicted champion

Daria Kasatkina

Edited by Arvind Sriram

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