St. Petersburg Ladies' Trophy 2022: Women's singles draw analysis, preview & prediction

Petra Kvitova (L) and Maria Sakkari
Petra Kvitova (L) and Maria Sakkari
Vedant Chandel

Following a month of enthralling tennis action Down Under, the WTA tour will now shift focus to Russia for the St. Petersburg Ladies' Trophy, a WTA 500 event scheduled to be played from 6-13 February. In the absence of defending champion Daria Kasatkina, top 10 players Maria Sakkari and Anett Kontaveit will lead the field at this year's tournament.

Also in the fray are former champions Petra Kvitova and Jelena Ostapenko, as well as other familiar faces including Russian no. 1 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Tokyo Olympics champion Belinda Bencic.

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


Top half: Former champion Petra Kvitova, in-form Elena Rybakina and Camila Giorgi look to topple Maria Sakkari

Maria Sakkari is the top seed.
Maria Sakkari is the top seed.

Top seeds: [1] Maria Sakkari, [3] Elena Rybakina, [6] Petra Kvitova, [8] Elise Merterns

Projected semifinal: Maria Sakkari vs Elena Rybakina

Dark horse: Petra Kvitova

Maria Sakkari will enter the tournament looking to move past her disappointing run in Australia where she suffered early exits in both Adelaide and Melbourne.

The top seed will need to hit her stride quickly as she will face the tenacious Anastasia Potapova in her first match. Things do not get any easier for Sakkari as the likes of Camila Giorgi and Elise Mertens lie ahead.

Giorgi's big game in particular could do a lot of damage in the indoor conditions. If the Italian can get past Ekaterina Alexandrova—another big striker of the ball—she would fancy her chances of a deep run in St. Petersburg.

Petra Kvitova lifted the trophy in 2018.
Petra Kvitova lifted the trophy in 2018.

2018 winner Petra Kvitova will also be looking to regain her form coming into this year's tournament.

The Czech is looking to move past an underwhelming 2021 season and a slow start to the new year. The draw has afforded the southpaw some luxury as she opens against a qualifier, with the winner of a Zhang Shuai-Irina Camelia Begu first-round match waiting ahead if she secures a win.

Kvitova's first real test will come in the quarterfinals, where she is projected to meet third seed Elena Rybakina.

Both Kvitova and Rybakina enjoy playing on St. Petersburg's quick courts and if both players can fine tune their game in the early rounds, fans could well be in for a marquee contest.

Prediction: Elena Rybakina def. Camila Giorgi

Bottom half: Anett Kontaveit and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova take on a slew of seasoned campaigners

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is the top-ranked Russian.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is the top-ranked Russian.

Top seeds: [2] Anett Kontaveit, [4] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, [5] Belinda Bencic, [7] Jelena Ostapenko

Projected semifinal: Anett Kontaveit vs Anastasia Pavlyuvchekova

Dark horse: Sorana Cirstea

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the fourth seed, will lead the Russian charge at this year's tournament. The home favorite has enjoyed a renaissance of sorts in the last 12 months and will be one of the names to watch out for in the bottom half.

The Russian does, however, have a very tricky opening-round opponent in the form of indoor-specialist Jaqueline Cristrian. The Romanian's powerful serve and flat groundstrokes are tailor-made for the conditions and Pavlyuchenkova will need to be at her absolute best to avoid an upset at the first hurdle.

Seasoned campaigners including Magda Linette, Aliaksandra Sasnovic, Andrea Petkovic and Jelena Ostapenko, while not playing their best tennis coming into St. Petersburg, are all capable of further testing the Russian.

Anett Konatveit is the second seed.
Anett Konatveit is the second seed.

Elsewhere in the bottom half, second seeds Anett Konatviet and Belinda Bencic find themselves on a collision course.

Neither player has made the strongest of starts to the 2022 season and will be keen to get a good result. Bencic has a relatively simpler path to the last eight, with only Veronika Kudermetova standing in her path.

Kontaveit, however, will need to be cautious every step of the way. The Estonian plays her opening-round match against the unpredictable Jil Teichmann, and could run into the in-form Sorana Cirstea in the second round.

Cirstea made a statement run at the Australian Open—reaching the fourth round with wins over Kvitova and Pavlyuchenkova—and comes into St. Petersburg brimming with confidence. However, she will need to find a way to get past the 2019 Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova in her first match.

Prediction: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova def. Belinda Bencic

Prediction for the final

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova def. Elena Rybakina

Edited by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya


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