The second of the WTA events next week is in Hobart. Casey Dellacqua, the world number 29, is the top seed in the draw. The list of seeds isn’t particularly impressive, but it should pave the way for an interesting and open week. Last year’s champion, Garbine Muguruza has opted to play in Sydney. The last three years has seen Muguruza, Elena Vesnina and Mona Barthel all win their first titles in Hobart. Will there be another first time winner in 2015? Let’s take a look at the draw…
Casey Dellacqua arrives in Hobart having lost all three of her singles matches at the Hopman Cup. This is an important time for the Aussie player as she is defending last 16 points at the Australian Open. Dellacqua’s first match of the week will be against Lauren Davis, who reached the semi-finals of Auckland. I’d pick Dellacqua in that match as it looked like Davis was nursing an injury in her match against Venus Williams. The first quarter features the 2012 champion, Mona Barthel. The German player has had a rough off-season; she damaged ligaments (via her Facebook page) and then caught a bug on her way to Auckland. Therefore, it was no surprise to see her lose her first match of the year in straight sets to Ana Konjuh. This section also features Kirsten Flipkens and Ajla Tomljanovic, who i’d fancy to make the quarters. A fully fit Barthel would be my favourite, but I still feel it will take her time to get back to 100% after her injury.
Camila Giorgi makes her return in 2015 in the second quarter. The fearless Italian pulled out of Brisbane with some kind of mouth injury. Her first match will be against the Aussie wildcard, Storm Sanders. I’d actually fancy an upset in this match. I’m not quite sure why, but it’s a feeling (which are always wrong but i’m going with it haha). Kaia Kanepi is also in this section and is my tip to go all the way. Fit and healthy, Kanepi is one of the biggest hitters on tour. She remains nervous and shaky closing out wins, but has proven before that she is capable of winning titles with four to her name. I could see both seeds falling early in this section with the number six seed, Klara Koukalova playing Kurumi Nara in the first round.
The third section has seen some changes with the Brisbane semi-finalist, Varvara Lepchenko pulling out with an ankle injury. Therefore Sloane Stephens and Roberta Vinci are now the seeds in this quarter. Sloane opens against Monica Niculescu, which will be entertaining… perhaps. Sloane started the season with a convincing win over Silvia Soler-Espinosa in Auckland, but didn’t back that up in the second round with a three set loss against Lauren Davis. Hobart is a great chance for her to secure wins and confidence, but Sloane still remains a mystery. Vinci started 2015 with a loss, but has a favourable draw with Olivia Rogowska in the first round.
The final quarter is supported by Zarina Diyas and Alison Riske. It seems strange to see Diyas as the number two seed in a draw; despite some notable improvements and an upward trajectory in the rankings, she’s not a name that has been talked about a great deal. I’m looking forward to following her progress throughout the year. She plays a qualifier in the first round and could meet Daniela Hantuchova in the second round, which would be a tough one to call if it happens. Alison Riske is the number eight seed; after losing her first round match in Brisbane to Daria Gavrilova, she posted on Twitter suggesting she had been ill. Her draw looks reasonable to pick up some wins in Hobart…
1st Round Predictions: Dellacqua d. Davis in 2 sets (or ret.), Sanders d. Giorgi in 3 sets, Kanepi d. Puig in 3 sets, Nara d. Koukalova in 3 sets, Vinci d. Rogowska in 2 sets, Beck d. Cepelova in 2 sets, Stephens d. Niculescu in 2 sets and Riske d. McHale in 2 sets,
Quarter-Final Predictions: Tomljanovic v Flipkens, Kanepi v Nara, Beck v Stephens and Riske v Hantuchova
Final Prediction: Kanepi d. Stephens