The first WTA Tournament of 2020 is here! The Brisbane International officially gets underway tomorrow from the Queensland Tennis Centre, so let’s take a look at the top contenders and Aussie favourites looking to take out the title.
It’s a particularly strong field this year (the strongest women’s field in the tournament’s history) with 7 grand slam winners and 6 of the top 10 in the world filling out the 30 spots in the draw. Aussie golden girl, Ash Barty, leads the pack as the current world no. 1 and WTA Player of the Year for 2019. Ash is in a stellar vein of form, and is the $4 favourite to take out the title. She gets a bye into the 2nd round along with no. 2 seeded and defending champion Karolina Pliskova, who sits well placed at the opposite end of the draw to have a serious tilt at the title.
Of the other seeds, Naomi Osaka shapes as a huge threat. Osaka is battling troubles with consistency that affected her in 2019, but 2020 shapes as a new year and a chance to take back her spot atop the WTA Rankings. 2018 Champion, Elina Svitolina, also returns to a place where she’s had plenty of success. Petra Kvitova also has the experience and awkward game style to make a serious run.
2015 Champion and wildcard recipient, Maria Sharapova, is looking to prepare well for one last crack at a Grand Slam as she enters the twilight of her career. The big hitting Russian still has the game to trouble the best in the world. Sloane Stephens is another who can trouble the best on her day, but she has been plagued by inconsistency since her 2017 US Open triumph. Of the rest, I expect Su-Wei Hsieh to take out a few big names this Aussie summer, including making it deep into this tournament. The Taiwanese grinder comes up with some of the most unique and innovative shots on the women’s tour, and has previous form in Australia with a 4th round appearance at the 2018 Australian Open.
Other than the obvious (Barty), Australia has plenty of homegrown talent to cheer for. Ajla Tomjlanovic and Sam Stosur are both playing in front of their home crowd and will be boosted by that vocal support. Storm Sanders has come through qualification to make the 1st round, and the Rockhampton product will be over the moon to be in the main draw of a WTA event. Is it still tennis if you’re seeing it like a beach ball? Storm will be feeling like she can beat anybody after ousting Heather Watson in the last round of qualification.
Yeah look, I might be biased as an Australian – but this is an easy prediction. Ash Barty is the world no. 1, is coming off the best year of her career in 2019, is the no. 1 seed, has a bye into the 2nd round and has the game & temperament to defeat anyone in the draw. The clincher for me is the fact that she is a Brisbane local, and will be desperate to clinch success in front of her family, friends and hometown for the first time.
Winner – Ash Barty
Bold Prediction – Ajla Tomjlanovic to defeat Karolina Pliskova in the 2nd round.