The draw for the 2018 Australian Open has been made and reigning world number one Simona Halep could face Garbine Muguruza in the semifinals, whilst Elina Svitolina and Caroline Wozniacki are also on course to meet in the last four.
With seven-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams missing her fourth successive Grand Slam tournament, there will be a new champion in Melbourne and six players have the chance to become the world number one.
The world number one, Simona Halep is bidding to win her first Grand Slam singles title in Melbourne, and she has a tricky path of becoming the last woman standing, whilst Caroline Wozniacki is back at world number two in the world, she will be looking to seize the opportunity of winning an elusive major as she has been handed a relatively kind draw.
Top seed Halep has not won a match in Melbourne since reaching the quarterfinals in 2015 as she has suffered first round defeats in her last two visits. The two-time Australian Open quarterfinalist opens her campaign against Australian wildcard Destanee Aiava. Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, the 27th seed could await in the third round, and either Australia’s 18th seed Ashleigh Barty and or No.16 seed Elena Vesnina could be Halep’s fourth round opponent.
Former world number one Karolina Pliskova, the sixth seed could be Halep’s potential quarterfinal opponent in Melbourne. The Czech faces Veronica Cepede Royg in the first round, and the Paraguayan almost upset Pliskova on Court Suzanne Lenglen at the French Open last year. Pliskova could face fellow Czech, the No.29 seed Lucie Safarova in the third round, and a mouthwatering clash with ninth seed Johanna Konta could be on the cards in round four.
Second seed Wozniacki can ease her way into the tournament as she faces Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu. It is a winnable first round match for the 2011 semifinalist. Should the Dane advance she could face 15th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who reached the quarterfinals last year, completing her set of reaching the quarterfinals at every Grand Slam.
French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, the seventh seed or last year’s semifinalist Coco Vandeweghe, seeded 10th could prove to be a tricky obstacle for Wozniacki to overcome in the quarterfinals. Ostapenko defeated the Dane in three sets in the quarterfinals en route to winning Roland Garros last June, and Vandeweghe overpowered the second seed in their fourth round encounter at Wimbledon last year.
Third seed Garbine Muguruza has a nightmare mini-section of the draw to deal with as she aims to win her first Grand Slam hardcourt title. She begins her campaign against a French wildcard in Jessika Ponchet. Should she progress, the two-time major winner could face 26th seed Agnieszka Radwanska, a two-time semifinalist in Melbourne in the last four years in the third round, a resurgent 2016 Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber or 2008 winner Maria Sharapova could be formidable fourth round opponents.
Sharapova faces Germany’s Tatjana Maria in the first round, and she could face 14th seed Anastasia Sevastova in the second round. The Latvian upset the five-time Grand Slam winner in their fourth round clash at the US Open last year.
Last year’s runner-up Venus Williams has a mouthwatering first round clash with Belinda Bencic. The Swiss won the Hopman Cup with Roger Federer on Sunday but it could be an omen for the seven-time Grand Slam winner as her sister Serena defeated Bencic in the first round last year, and went on to win the title.
Williams could face 31st Ekaterina Makarova, who is a regular fixture in the latter stages in Melbourne in the third round and either the in-form 12th seed Julia Goerges or Australia’s 23rd seed Daria Gavrilova in round four.
Fourth seed Elina Svitolina could meet Williams in the quarterfinals but she opens her campaign against a qualifier, and should she reach the second round, the Ukranian will have to be on the top of her game, when she faces Maria Sakkari or Katerina Siniakova. US Open champion Sloane Stephens, seeded 13th could meet Svitolina in round four.
The Australian Open gets underway on Monday 15th January.
Carlos Alcaraz Gets Revenge On Andy Murray To Reach Vienna Last Eight
Carlos Alcaraz is into the Vienna quarter-finals after beating Andy Murray in straight sets.
Carlos Alcaraz got revenge on Andy Murray after beating the former grand slam champion 6-3 6-4 to reach the Vienna Quarter-Finals.
The Spaniard lost to Murray in a three set battle at Indian Wells earlier this month but was victorious in Austria.
Despite being a break up in the second set, the three time grand slam champion couldn’t consistently out-power the aggressive Spaniard.
Alcaraz will now play Nikoloz Basilashvili or Matteo Berrettini in the last eight.
Alcaraz was aggressive from the very first ball as he controlled rallies behind the baseline and punished Murray’s weak second serve.
After being broke in the first game, the Brit got his revenge in the fourth game as he converted in his sixth break point of the game to seal the break back.
However Alcaraz’s firepower was too much and the Spaniard’s consistent firepower was too much for Murray as two hard-fought breaks followed as he sealed the opening set in 65 minutes.
Murray utilised a more attacking style of play in the second set and was rewarded with an early break of serve as he would take a 4-2 lead.
But Alcaraz displayed too much power and accuracy as he reeled off four games in a row to complete his victory and progress into the Vienna quarter-finals.
Alcaraz will now play Basilashvili or Berrettini in the quarter-finals as he looks for a strong finish to a career-best season.
As for Murray that will be the end of his season unless he gets a wildcard into Paris next week or makes the Davis Cup Finals team for Great Britain.
Simona Halep wins the all Romanian battle in Cluj
Simona Halep is into the second round in Cluj after a dominant performance.
The world number 18 and the top seed managed to beat her Romanian counterpart in straight sets.
Simona Halep is through round one of the Transylvania Open, being played at the BT Arena in Cluj-Napoca, after beating a fellow Romanian Elena Gabriella Ruse in straight sets 6-1, 6-2 in one hour and 13 minutes.
The number one seed served six aces and won 83% of her first serve points in a match that seemed one-sided and Halep was pulling amazing shots and winners throughout the entire match.
“It’s not easy to face a Romanian in the first round of a Romanian tournament but I was very focused and concentrated on what I have to do and I didn’t really think of who I would play, I just wanted to play my game and I felt great on court today.”
It was actually the world 85 with the first breakpoint of the match in the first game but it was denied when Halep stepped up to the service line and fired an ace to save it.
After holding serve the world number 18 started looking for the early lead and she was able to get it after a poor service game from Ruse and after consolidating the break managed to turn it into a double break.
Halep served out the first set in a mere 29 minutes and it was clear she was the better player today.
She continued to ride the momentum into the second set and at 1-1 earned three more chances to break and broke with a stunning return winner that caught Ruse off guard for the 2-1 lead.
At 4-2, the top seed managed to go up a double break with another amazing passing shot and she served out the match and after the match in her post-match press conference, she spoke about pulling off those amazing shots on breakpoints.
“When I have a chance to do it I always do because I love these kinda shots and today it was a great one so it made me very happy.”
Halep will next face the Russian Varvara Gracheva in the next round after she beat the German Andrea Petkovic in three sets 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 on Tuesday night.
Anett Kontaveit overpowers Krunic in Cluj-Napoca
Anett Kontaveit took a step towards the WTA Finals with a straight sets win in Cluj today.
The number two seed only needed two sets and 70 minutes to beat her Serbian opponent.
Anett Kontaveit is through to the second round of the Transylvania Open, being played at the BT Arena in Cluj-Napoca, beating the Serbian qualifier Aleksandra Krunic in straight sets 6-3, 7-5 in one hour and 10 minutes.
The world number 14 served two aces and won 69% of the points on her first serve in a match where she seemed to outhit her opponent using her powerful groundstrokes.
“The match was close and it was only break in the first set and I thought I was playing pretty well and winning a lot of points on my first serve but I actually think she served well and it wasn’t an easy match and the second set got really close”.
The Estonian had the better start to the match holding serve in her opening game and putting pressure on the Serb right away earning two chances to break serve and got the early break to take a 2-0 lead.
That one break was enough for Kontaveitt to serve out the first set and take it 6-3.
The second set was a more competitive affair and it stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Tallinn, Estonia native was able to break the Serb at love to take a 3-2 lead and she was able to consolidate the break.
It stayed on serve until 4-3 when the world number 44 fought back and was able to break the Estonian serve and the set went back on serve. Once again both players did a good job holding serve until 5-5 when Kontaveit got the crucial break of serve and served out the match.
After the match in her post-match press conference, Kontaveit spoke about how she was feeling energy-wise after such a short turnaround time from winning the title in Moscow last week.
” I feel like the energy has dropped a little bit but I did manage to bring some of the energy today and still be active and be aggressive.”
Kontaveit will now face Alison Van Uytvanck in her next match after the Belgian beat Danka Kovinic in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 earlier in the day.
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