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Phillip Island Trophy 2021: Women's singles draw analysis, preview & prediction

Sofia Kenin
Sofia Kenin
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Modified 12 Feb 2021
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It's hard to believe that the second week of a Grand Slam tournament will coincide with a WTA 250 event at the same venue. But in these unprecedented times, Tennis Australia and the WTA Tour have joined forces to stage the Phillip Island Trophy for players who lost early at the Australian Open.

The event offers the pros a chance to earn some money and ranking points, even as the uncertainty over the pandemic looms over the next few months.

With several seeds dropping out of the Australian Open in the first few days, the tournament has managed to attract four top 20 players - including two recent Grand Slam winners. 2020 Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin and 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu headline the field at this event.

On that note, here's a closer look at how the draw is likely to unfold:

Top half: Sofia Kenin hoping to rebound from Australian Open early exit

Sofia Kenin
Sofia Kenin

Seeded players: [1] Sofia Kenin, [4] Petra Martic, [7] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, [8] Danielle Collins, [9] Sloane Stephens, [10] Caroline Garcia, [15] Alize Cornet, [16] Rebecca Peterson

Expected semifinal: Sofia Kenin vs Petra Martic

Dark horse: Ajla Tomljanovic

Analysis: World No. 4 Sofia Kenin will be looking to salvage her disappointing trip Down Under with a good run at the Phillip Island Trophy.

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The 22-year-old lost back-to-back quarterfinals to start the year on a middling note. Then, a shock second-round Australian Open defeat at the hands of experienced veteran Kaia Kanepi left Kenin in tears.

After a bye in the first round at the Phillip Island Trophy, Kenin will meet an Aussie wild card in the second round. The American has No. 16 seed Rebecca Peterson as her scheduled third-round opponent.

Kenin could face a major challenge in the quarterfinals though, against either fiesty compatriot Danielle Collins or 10th-seeded Caroline Garcia of France.

In the other half of this section, No. 4 seed Petra Martic and No. 7 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will each be hoping for a deep run. Former US Open winner Sloane Stephens and French veteran Alize Cornet are the other seeds in this corner.

Ajla Tomljaoniic, the Aussie who nearly upset World No. 2 Simona Halep on Wednesday, could pose problems for Pavlyuchenkova if she reaches the second round.

Semifinal prediction: Danielle Collins vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Bottom half: Bianca Andreescu continues her comeback

Bianca Andreescu
Bianca Andreescu
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Seeded players: [2] Bianca Andreescu, [3] Johanna Konta, [5] Qiang Wang, [6] Shuai Zhang, [11] Saisai Zheng, [12] Nadia Podoroska, [13] Marie Bouzkova [14] Anastasija Sevastova

Expected semifinal: Bianca Andreescu vs Johanna Konta

Dark horse: Sara Errani

Analysis: The spotlight in the bottom half of the draw will be on former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu. The 20-year-old played her first tournament since the end of the 2019 season at the Australian Open, and was knocked out in the second round.

After her loss in Melbourne, Andreescu claimed she had no concerns about her fitness. That should be a good sign for her fans, who will be hoping she remains injury-free for the next few months.

Andreescu is drawn to meet the No. 14 seed Anastasija Sevastova in the third round. After that, she could face either No. 5 Qiang Wang - who has struggled since her win over Serena Williams at last year's Australian Open - or French Open semi-finalist Nadia Podoroska in the quarters.

Her scheduled semifinal opponent is former World No. 4 Johanna Konta, who could meet American Lauren Davis in the second round and No. 13 Maria Bouzkova in the third round. The Chinese seeds Shuai Zhang and Saisai Zheng loom as potential quarter-final opponents.

Semifinal prediction: Marie Bouzkova vs Nadia Podoroska

Prediction for final

Danielle Collins vs Nadia Podorska

Predicted champion

Nadia Podorska

Published 12 Feb 2021, 22:15 IST
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