With the dust of the first ever ATP Cup only just settling, the tennis world’s attention turns to the Adelaide International. With just over a week remaining until the main draw of the Australian Open kicks off, Adelaide’s premiere tennis event will give the world’s top players a chance to fine-tune their game before the first grand slam of 2019.
The next-gen of ATP Talent are going to be on display in Adelaide this week. Led by no. 1 seed and crowd favourite, Alex De Minaur, the draw features a who’s who of burgeoning talent in the world of men’s tennis. Alex will be looking to build off some fantastic displays during his semi-final run with Team Australia in the ATP Cup. He’s joined by no. 2 seed and wunderkind, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and tenacious Russian no. 3 seed, Andrey Rublev.
The big-hitting & young contenders keep coming in the form of Christian Garin and Reilly Opelka. Of the more seasoned campaigners, De Minaur’s nemesis from a few days ago, Dan Evans, looks to be in red-hot form and has the tenacious attitude and high tennis IQ to cause upsets.
There are 5 Aussies to look out for in Adelaide – De Minaur, Alex Bolt, Alexei Popyrin, Jordan Thompson & James Duckworth. Of those, Alex De Minaur has the draw and credentials best suited to having a tilt at the title.
For me this comes down to 2 players brimming with confidence. Rublev comes into this tournament off the back of a victory at the Qatar Open, and De Minaur just took a set off Nadal and was mighty close to causing a massive upset. Look for those 2 to meet in the final, where the big hitting Russian will have to combat the fast-moving Aussie in an epic battle.
Prediction: Andrey Rublev/Alex De Minaur
Let’s have a look at our picks for the title in Adelaide on the women’s side.
Top seeds, Ashleigh Barty & Simona Halep, are the clear front-runners and both get a bye into the round of 16. It’s the first event of the year for Halep, as the world no. 3 looks to tune up for a tilt at the Aussie Open crown. Australia’s golden girl, Barty, had a shock exit from last weeks Brisbane International, where she got out-gunned by Jennifer Brady in straight sets. She had a happier time on the doubles court, where she managed to make the final of the doubles playing with Kiki Bertens.
Speaking of Kiki Bertens, she is the 5th seed for this event in singles, and won 2 matches in Brisbane before going down to Naomi Osaka. The winner of this event will likely come from Barty or Halep. If it doesn’t, someone will likely have to beat BOTH of them. Bertens is more than capable of doing so. She is a dark horse to win at this event, and has the firepower to trouble Barty (beating Barty when they played at the WTA Finals at the end of 2019) and Halep (winning their previous 2 meetings).
There are 3 other Aussies in action – Arina Rodionova, Ajla Tomjlanovic and Priscilla Hon. Of those women, I think Ajla has the best chance of making a run deep into the tournament. In my Brisbane International Preview last week, I called for a MASSIVE upset when I said Tomjlanovic would beat defending champion, Karolina Pliskova, in the 4th round. She managed to get close! That match will give Ajla huge confidence, as she managed to match it with the best in the world. If Ajla wins her first match against a qualifier, she takes on Simona Halep in the round of 16. Look for her to cause the upset with the crowd on her side.
For the title though, there can only be one choice. World no. 1 and Australian favourite Ash Barty will cast aside her shock exit at the Brisbane International, and get her first title of 2019 in Adelaide.
Prediction: Ash Barty