WTA Brisbane 2015 Draw: Preview and Predictions

Firstly, Happy New Year to all readers of Moo’s Tennis Blog! The off-season is officially over and we are ready to rumble for the new season. The first week is always crazy and frantic with six tournaments and the Hopman Cup.  Of the three WTA events taking place next week, Brisbane has once again attracted the best line-up.  The defending champion, Serena Williams has chosen to begin her season at the Hopman Cup, but four of the world’s top ten are in attendance along with a host of the WTA “rising stars”.  The draw has produced some great first round matches, which comes as no surprise with the depth of the draw.  For the first time in 2015, let’s take a look at the draw… 😀

Maria Sharapova

For the second consecutive year, Maria Sharapova will open her season at the Brisbane International.  On this occasion, she is the top seed and approaches 2015 with much less uncertainty having been on the comeback trail at the beginning of 2014 due to right shoulder bursitis.  Sharapova’s first match of the week will be against either Sabine Lisicki or a qualifier.  Assuming Lisicki comes through her opener (which is never a given), this would be a testing opener for Sharapova.  Sharapova’s projected quarter-final opponent is Carla Suarez Navarro.  All in all, it’s a reasonable draw for the number one seed.

On the opposite side of the draw, Ana Ivanovic is the number two seed in Brisbane.   2014 was Ivanovic’s best year on the WTA tour since 2008 when she also finished at number 5 in the year-end rankings.  It was a first title in over two years in Auckland that set Ivanovic up for the whole season.  Ivanovic needs to start well again to maintain the momentum and confidence she did so well to sustain in 2014.  Ivanovic will begin her 2015 campaign against either Jarmila Gajdosova or Zhang Shuai in the second round.  I’d back Gajdosova, the big-hitting Australian, to come through that first round match.  She enjoyed a return to form during the second half of 2014 and seems to be in a much better place in her life having recently got engaged and rejoining Twitter.  Ivanovic’s projected quarter-final opponent is Andrea Petkovic, who has a tricky opener against Kaia Kanepi.  The Estonian player has an excellent record in Brisbane having won the the tournament in 2012 and also leads Petkovic in their head-to-head, 2-0.

The second quarter of the draw could produce a Brisbane rematch between Jelena Jankovic and Angelique Kerber.  The pair are seeded to meet in the quarter-finals, the same stage where they played each other last year.  Jankovic outlasted Kerber in an entertaining three setter, 6-7 6-3 6-1.  Jankovic played one of her best tournaments in Brisbane last year as the fast courts seemed to suit her game.  Her first match of the week will be against the wildcard, Ajla Tomljanovic.  Kerber’s opener is equally challenging, against Caroline Garcia.  The pair are tied at 1-1 in their head-to-head; Garcia won their first match on the clay courts of Madrid via retirement, but in their most recent match on the hard courts of Montreal, a fully fit Kerber was too consistent from the baseline as she won in straight sets, 6-4 6-1.

The third quarter is where things get really interesting.  The most intriguing of the first round matches will see Victoria Azarenka take on Karolina Pliskova.  Vika is on the comeback trail once more and will be competing for the first time in over three months.  After an injury-plagued 2014, Azarenka finds herself at number 31 in the rankings.  She is unlikely to be seeded for the Australian Open unless she can go deep in Brisbane where she is defending final points.  It’s likely she will be very rusty, but her competitive spirit will always give her a chance.  Pliskova received a lot of support in the comments section of my WTA predictions for 2015 and it’s understandable after she ended 2014 in superb form, winning two titles in the fall season at Linz and Seoul.  The 22-year-old has enjoyed success at some of the smaller tournaments, but has yet to translate that form into some of the higher stature tournaments.  This will be a great opportunity for her to make some early headway in 2015 and establish herself as one to watch.

Dominika Cibulkova and Garbine Muguruza are the two seeds in the third quarter, but both players face an uphill struggle in this draw.  Muguruza, who opens against Bethanie Mattek-Sands, could meet the winner of the Azarenka-Pliskova match.  Cibulkova has the toughest draw of the eight seeds as she opens against Madison Keys.  Cibulkova has never beaten Keys before and if she was to win that match, she could face home favourite Sam Stosur in the second round, which is a horrible match-up for her.

1st Round Predictions: McHale d. Lucic-Baroni in 3 sets, Suarez Navarro d. Pironkova in 2 sets, Kerber d. Garcia in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy), Svitolina d. Rybarikova in 2 sets, Jankovic d. Tomljanovic in 3 sets, Azarenka d. Ka.Pliskova in 3 sets, Stosur d. Lepchenko in 2 sets, Keys d. Cibulkova in 2 sets and Kanepi d. Petkovic in 3 sets

Quarter-Final Predictions: Sharapova v Suarez Navarro, Kerber v Jankovic, Azarenka v Keys and Kanepi v Ivanovic

Final Prediction: Sharapova d. Ivanovic

Photo in this post by Jimmie48 Photography.  I’d definitely recommend checking out Women’s Tennis Blog this week where Jimmie is posting new content from Brisbane with galleries already up from the qualifying rounds.

21 thoughts on “WTA Brisbane 2015 Draw: Preview and Predictions

  1. I think Ana Ivanovic should have this one, she’s playing with so much confidence and the fast courts mean she has less time to doubt herself. Pliskova is my dark horse and I really think she’ll upset Azarenka in her opening match.


    • You are a massive Pliskova fan though if I’m not mistaken Andrew!? :p
      With everyone else rusty too, this is a great chance for Azarenka to re-establish herself as a major force in the womens’ game. If she is fit and feeling good I think she will win this. Would not be at all surprised to see it go the other way though. If she get’s through it Azarenka could challenge for the title here (I even chose her in Moo’s poll just to spread the love – not that I have any for Azarenka mind you…..one of the least attractive on-court personalities out there!)


      • I wouldn’t say a massive fan as she isn’t THERE yet, but I definitely see her being a top five player some point soon. Doubt she has the depth to make #1.
        Azarenka has always struggled with confidence, even when she was top ranked, and I doubt she’ll be feeling too confident going into this year. On top of that she’s not match fit and has hardly played in the past twelve months.


    • We’ll see how Pliskova gets on against Azarenka. I wouldn’t be surprised if she won, but had to go with Azarenka purely for the way she competes even when she’s not 100%.


  2. Well, i had the same picks for Gajdosova and M.Keys. I’d love to see A.Tomljanovic & M. Lucic Baroni to win at least one round. I still dunno what happened to Mirjana (except the wedding with M.Baroni), she was a rising star long ago… then nothing for many years.
    Of course i hope MaSha will be the final winner.


  3. Azarenka V Pliskova is an amazing R1 match up. I think Pliskova will push Vika, but if she’s fit i think Vika will pull through! I hope JJ V Kerber QF happens, and the same result as last year occurs. I just hope JJ is fully fit and ready to compete.


    • I really want Caro Garcia to open the year strongly. She has all the potential to be #1 in the world but for some reason it isn’t clicking into place yet. I think a strong showing in Australia will set her soaring.


  4. Well the Pliskova/Azarenka match certainly lived up to expectations! Rust from both of them and I have to admit that I was wrong about Vika- I thought she’d be much less confident in her shot making. The double faults are a concern, but I’m sure she’ll sort that out with match experience.
    I’m thrilled Karolina has started the year off with such an epic win. I really do think she’ll be the one to watch this year. I had her as my dark horse for the Australian Open title this year but I think she could also be a contender at Wimbledon, seeing how her serve is coming on and her fearlessness at the net.


    • I was particularly impressed by how Pliskova fought the whole match including regular fist pumping. Cannot remember that she has done it like this last season. Nevermind – great match, absolutely delivered. Azarenka was quite confident but on match points I had the feeling she was too tentative. I’m sorry for the person that gets her in first round AO. Serena – Azarenka would be hilarious and I’m not too sure that Serena would win 😀


      • Pliskova gets a lot of flack for a lack of intensity, but it’s that cool, calm head that means she’s able to keep fighting no matter how far behind she gets or how big the points are.
        As for Azarenka beating Williams…I doubt it. But we’ll see what shape Serena is in over the next few days.


      • I was surprised how vocal Pliskova was. I remember seeing a little bit of emotion towards the end of last year, but nothing like today. Azarenka is going to be a horrible draw for whoever draws her at the AO.


    • Credit to you Andrew for picking Pliskova in this match-up! She really did play a great match. Azarenka too was decent, but I believe a lack of matches didn’t help her cause. IMO, it was more about Pliskova raising her level in the last couple of games than Vika going totally off the boil.


      • We all have to be right occasionally haha! I’d have loved to have had a double whammy and Garcia gotten through, but Kerber was absolutely solid and I do think she could be a finalist if she continues playing like this through the whole tournament.


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