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Australian Open WTA Preview: Swiatek Leads Field

Sabalenka Looks To Win Back-To-Back Titles Down Under

Is this the year that top-ranked Iga Swiatek breaks through at the Australian Open? She is listed by the tennis predictions as the favorite to win the first Grand Slam title of 2024 but there are plenty of players who could derail her dreams.

The WTA saw four different Grand Slam women’s singles champions in 2023 including Aryna Sabalenka’s run to the 2023 Australian Open title.

Australian Open WTA Preview: Swiatek Leads Field

Elena Rybakina just cruised to a 6-0, 6-3 win over Sabalenka in Brisbane while World No. 1 Iga Swiatek had an impressive run of matches at the United Cup for runner-up Poland.

Swiatek and Sabalenka are well ahead of the field in the most recent WTA rankings with Rybakina, Coco Gauff, and Jessica Pegula rounding out the top five.

Is This Swiatek’s Time?

Swiatek has advanced past the fourth round once at the Australian Open and that came in a run to the 2022 semifinals. That is something to consider when it comes to betting on tennis.

Swiatek could be tested by former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in her first match.If she wins that, she draws either American Danielle Collins or 2016 Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber.

Former Grand Slam singles champions Jelena Ostapenko and Victoria Azarenka are among the seeded players in Swiatek’s portion of the draw. The biggest threat could be defending Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova. She is a solid favorite to roll in her opening match according to our sportsbook.

Swiatek looked ready to make a run based on her showing at the United Cup, she posted wins over Beatriz Haddad Maia, Sara Sorribes Tormo, Qinwen Zheng, Caroline Garcia, and Angelique Kerber while dropping just one set.

Other Top Contenders

Defending champion Sabalenka might be a little undervalued at +450 in the Australian Open women’s singles outrights. She had a dominant showing in her first-round match.

— wta (@WTA) January 14, 2024

Sabalenka hadn’t advanced past the fourth round in her first six appearances at the Australian Open. That all changed in 2023 when she topped Elena Rybakina 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the Australian Open women’s singles final.

Rybakina had no issues with Sabalenka in the Brisbane International singles final with a dominant 6-0, 6-3 win. She is now at +550 in the odds of winning the Australian Open.

Rybakina could face Swiatek in the semifinals. Her portion of the draw includes unseeded Americans Sloane Stephens and Shelby Rogers. No. 5 seed Jessica Pegula is the U.S. player who could face the biggest challenge to Rybakina.

Ons Jabeur has reached three of the last six Grand Slam women’s singles finals and she is currently at +1600 in Australian Open outrights.

Jabeur may need to contend with No. 9 seed Barbora Krejcikova before a potential quarterfinal matchup against Sabalenka.

Don’t forget about 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva. She is at +2000 in the Australian Open odds. She could square off with Jabeur in the second round.

Plenty of Star Power

Normally, most of the attention is focused on the top-seeded players. That is not the case in 2024 with some former World No. 1 players on the comeback trail.

It started when Caroline Wozniacki, the 2018 Australian Open champion, was leading No. 20 seed Magda Linette 6-4, 2-0 when Linette retired in the first round.

Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber also have returned to the WTA tour. Like Wozniacki, they stepped away due to the birth of a child.

It could make for a rather interesting draw with some former top-ranked players as possible floaters in the draw.

Osaka won one Grand Slam singles title in four consecutive years (2018 US Open, 2019 Australian Open 2020 US Open, and 2021 Australian Open).

Kerber captured the Australian Open and US Open in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2018.

Osaka, who is priced +1400 in the Australian Open outrights, returned at the Brisbane Invitational with a straight-set win over Tamara Korpatsch before losing to No. 16 seed Karolina Pliskova.

Kerber played for the victorious German squad at the United Cup.

She extended France’s Caroline Garcia to three sets in her second singles match at the United Cup. In the semifinals, she defeated Australia’s Ajla Tomljanović in a third-set tiebreaker.

Osaka drew No. 16 seed Caroline Garcia in the first round while a second-round meeting between Swiatek and Kerber will generate plenty of buzz.

U.S. Hopes

During the Open era, the U.S.-born players to win back-to-back Grand Slam women’s singles titles consists of Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Jennifer Capriati, Lindsay Davenport, and Serena Williams. Coco Gauff can join that select company if she wins the Australian Open.

An American player has reached two of the last three Australian Open finals with Jennifer Brady losing to Osaka in 2021 and Danielle Collins falling to Ash Barty in 2022.

Jessica Pegula was the only American to reach the 2023 Australian Open women’s singles quarterfinals. Her title hopes ended with a loss to Victoria Azarenka.

Gauff has the best odds (+800) among the U.S. players followed by Pegula (+1600) and Collins (+5000).

Gauff posted five wins over top-10 players as she won the US Open, reached the semifinals at the China Open, and got to the semifinals in the WTA Finals as well.

Gauff recently won the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand as she dropped just one set in her five matches.

What the Quarterfinals Could Look Like

Vondrousova may need to dispatch Azarenka and Ostapenko just to get to the quarterfinals and then No. 1 Swiatek may be waiting. That could be one of the more anticipated Australian Open quarterfinals in quite some time.

No. 3 seed Rybakina has an intriguing opening match versus Karolina Pliskova with Qinwen Zheng and Daria Kasatkina among the seeded players to keep an eye on. Can unseeded Sloane Stephens make a deep run after failing to advance past the second round in six of her last eight Grand Slam tournaments?

Pegula and Zheng could be on the collision course with a spot in the quarterfinals.

Gauff could face a challenging journey with either Osaka or Garcia a potential roadblock before the quarterfinals. No. 8 Maria Sakkari could meet No. 10 seed Haddad Maia in the Round of 16.

Sabalenka looks to become the first back-to-back  Australian Open women’s singles titles since Azarenka in 2012 and 2013. Can Krejcikova or Donna Vekic stop that from happening? Unseeded Paola Badosa is another player to watch.

Way Too Early Predictions for Semifinals, Final

  • Top Half Semifinal Prediction: Swiatek vs Rybakina
  • Bottom Half Semifinal Prediction: Gauff vs Sabalenka
  • Final: Swiatek vs Gauff

Questions of the Day

How will Naomi Osaka handle the spotlight in her return to the Australian Open?

It shouldn’t take long to find out as Osaka meets No. 16 seed Caroline Garcia in the first round.

Which players thrive in changing conditions, and who might struggle as the weather shifts?

The temperatures don’t seem too unreasonable for the start of the tournament so don’t look for results to be determined by the weather conditions.

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