Sunday, January 17, 2016

WTA AO 2016: I See Upsets

by Savannah

No movie will ever use that phrase to highlight the release of a potential blockbuster but hey, that's what I see when I look at the ATP and WTA draws for the 2016 edition of the Australian Open. Everyone has seen the draws already. Everyone has read the expert opinions on what will and won't happen. I guess everyone has made their Suicide Pool picks too. Note: I'm lousy at predictions so I give opinions here but no predictions.

So why am I talking about upsets?

A caveat for those who are reading this space for the first time. I don't talk much about ATP draws because I stan for a particular player so my opinions would tend to be biased therefore I do talk about the WTA quite a bit. There is one thing I can say about both draws though. There are some very nice traps set in both draws. When the top ranked players on both tours are given sacrificial lambs to start their campaigns it's very easy to pencil them in for the next round. I predict one or both will either be upset or come close to being upset because the players they're drawn against have nothing to lose. A fearless foe is a dangerous foe.

I base one observation on shoe style. As in Serena Williams hasn't been seen in heels in awhile. I know, I know the knee inflammation is gone and she's fine. We'll see shortly.

I also have questions about Simona Halep. I posted here last year that Halep anywhere near the net is a crap shoot. If you let her hit groundies to her hearts content she will carve you to pieces with the angles she can create. If you watched her match vs Svetlana Kuznetsova she didn't tank she played three sets. And in the end Sveta won because for once she seemed to give a damn and used her experience to beat Simona.

Halep doesn't like the heat either. With the temps in the 40's Celsius (100's Fahrenheit) this will be a factor. I don't know if they'll close the roofs due to heat since even when they're closed for inclement weather there are complaints that the tournament is turning into an indoor one.

The bottom of the bottom half will be interesting for other reasons. Sticking with the seeds Madison Keys hasn't played a competitive set since late last year. She's also got a new coach, Jesse Levine, an American whose highest rank was 199 back in July 2013. Her former coach, Lindsay Davenport, hinted that Keys is still carrying the injury that kept her out a good part of 2015. She was considered one of the top prospects for the United States about a year and a half ago. When she did play last year there was no discernable maturation in her game. The seed in her section is Ana Ivanovic. I'm not a big fan of Ana's style of play but I don't see any one getting in the way of her playing Madison, if Madison is healthy and mentally prepared.

I see Venus Williams vs Johanna Konta as a toss up with Venus having a slight edge based on experience on the Grand Slam level. Konta has proven that she is hungry and capable. Whether she will be able to beat Venus, who has never done well here, remains to be seen. Makarova's health is still suspect and there could be some surprising results in that part of the draw where the other seed is Karolina Pliskova. Pliskova's technique is still suspect to me and as the tournament wears on the heat can become a major factor for her as well.

Sabine Lisicki has shown nothing lately and I wouldn't be surprised if she's upset early.

So, will we see Victoria Azarenka vs Garbiñe Muguruza in the top half of the bottom section of the draw? There are some tantalizing possibilites in that part of the draw. Samantha Crawford, the WC from the United States is Azarenka's potential second round opponent assuming Crawford gets past Danka Kovinic who has a decent game and Azarenka gets past Alison Van Uytvanck. I've seen Van Uytvanck play very good tennis but Azarenka still should have the edge. With Victoria Duval coming back from illness I think Elina Svitolina gets past her. The quarter featuring Muguruza and Caroline Garcia should see Muguruza coming out with little trouble. What was the question? Oh yeah, it's very likely that we'll see Azarenka vs Muguruza.

I never though I'd say this but I see Agnieszka Radwanska doing very well in Melbourne. She's hungry and despite magazine covers and photo shoots that border on soft porn I think she will surprise here. Sure Eugenie Bouchard and a newly reinvigorated Monica Puig are in her quarter but neither player is mature enough to handle Aga's style of now you see it now you don't tennis in my opinion.

The top of the top? Too many ifs to have an opinion. Like I said I see upsets.

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