2020 Australian Open – Women’s Singles Preview

Heading into the 2020 Australian Open, there is a lot of excitement around women’s tennis, and for a number of reasons!

Can Ashleigh Barty, after winning her first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros last year, and the 2019 WTA Finals in Shenzhen, become the first Australian women since Chris O’Neil in 1978 to win the Australian Open?

Can Naomi Osaka defend her Australian Open crown, and become just the fourth woman since the start of 2000 after Jennifer Capriati (2001, 2002), Serena Williams (2009, 2010), and Victoria Azarenka (2012, 2013) to win in consecutive years at Melbourne Park?

Can Simona Halep, after reuniting with coach Darren Cahill, win at a third different Grand Slam in as many years, and go one better than what she did two years ago when she made the final at the 2018 Australian Open, losing in an epic to Caroline Wozniacki?

Can Petra Kvitová back up her amazing and emotional run to the 2019 Australian Open, her first Grand Slam final after coming back from a career-threatening left hand injury suffered while defending herself from an intruder in her home in Czech Republic in late 2016, and win her first Australian Open crown, and her third Grand Slam title overall?

Can Karolína Plíšková win her first Grand Slam title after making the semi-finals at Melbourne Park last year, and making the US Open final back in 2016?

Can Elina Svitolina win her first Grand Slam title after making the semi-finals at Wimbledon and the US Open last year, and Belinda Bencic after making her first Grand Slam semi-final at Flushing Meadows in 2019?

However, the most poignant question heading into the 2020 Australian Open is whether Serena Williams, fresh off winning her 73rd career title, her first as a mother, and her first since the 2017 Australian Open, can at last equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam titles in the year Court celebrates her 50th anniversary of completing the calendar year Grand Slam?

So, who will win the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup in 2020?

Here is my analysis of the 2020 Australian Open women’s singles draw!

 

Section One

The World No.1 Barty, who claimed her first professional tournament victory on Australian soil yesterday in Adelaide, should have little issue in reaching the fourth round and the second week of her home Grand Slam where she will meet either Alison Riske, who defeated Barty in the fourth round to reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last year, 2018 Wimbledon semi-finalist Julia Görges, or Petra Martić, who made the Roland Garros quarter-finals in 2019, although Barty will need to be wary of Aliaksandra Sasnovich or Elena Rybakina, who won the Hobart International yesterday, in the third round.

However, you cannot see Barty not making the quarter-finals, and if she hits her absolute top form in the second week, it could a golden event at Melbourne Park for Australia!

My predicted fourth round match-up: (1) Ashleigh Barty vs. (13) Petra Martić

 

Section Two

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitová should have no real issues to reach the fourth round, although she will need to be wary of Ekaterina Alexandrova in the third round, who won her first career title a couple of weeks ago in Shenzhen. However, who Kvitová will meet in the fourth round is up for debate with the 2017 US Open finalist Madison Keys having a tough first round match against Daria Kasatkina, who made the quarter-finals at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2018, before a potential third round with either 2014 US Open semi-finalist Peng Shuai, or Maria Sakkari, who won her first career title last year in Morocco.

However, you sense given the form that she showed in Brisbane, especially in defeating Kvitová in the semi-finals, that she will get through to the fourth round for a re-match with last year’s Australian Open finalist. However, can Keys, a semi-finalist at Melbourne Park in 2015, make a really deep run into the second week of a Grand Slam and reach her full potential in 2020? Staying fit and motivated will be the key for her!

My predicted fourth round match-up: (10) Madison Keys vs. (7) Petra Kvitová

 

Section Three

Defending champion Osaka has a deceptively tough draw in front of her with Marie Bouzková who made the semi-finals at the Rogers Cup in Toronto last year, in the first round, Zheng Saisai in the second round, and either seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams, 15 year old American Coco Gauff, who qualified for the main draw at Wimbledon before defeating Venus Williams in the first round and will meet yet again in the first round at the Australian Open, 2009 Roland Garros quarter-finalist Sorana Cîrstea, or 2019 Wimbledon semi-finalist Barbora Strýcová, who failed to make it beyond the first round at her other three Grand Slam main draw appearances in 2019. This is before meeting either 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens, 2016 Australian Open quarter-finalist Zhang Shuai, 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur, or the highly-talented Sofia Kenin, who won her first three career titles last year, in the fourth round.

Despite how arduous the draw ahead looks for Osaka, you sense she is in strong enough form to overcome all of the challengers in this section to make the quarter-final, and to make a genuine fist of defending her Australian Open crown!

My predicted fourth round match-up: (3) Naomi Osaka vs. (14) Sofia Kenin

 

Section Four

This section features arguably the greatest tennis player (male or female) of all-time in Serena Williams, and the seven-time Australian Open champion shouldn’t have many problems in reaching the fourth round, although she will need to be wary of Wang Qiang in the third round, who of course defeated Barty in the fourth round of last year’s US Open.

This section also features 2018 Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki, who will be retiring from professional tennis after the 2020 Australian Open, and she has a tough run with 19 year old Dayana Yastremska, who made the final in Adelaide and has won three career titles, in the second round, and then three-time Grand Slam semi-finalist Johanna Konta, or 2017 Roland Garros quarter-finalist Caroline Garcia in third round before potentially a final-ever meeting, an emotional occasion with her great friend Serena, which other than winning a second Australian Open title, would be close to the perfect way to say goodbye!

However, back to Serena, can she at last equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles at the 2020 Australian Open? Given the form she showed to win in Auckland, she has a very strong chance, but it won’t be easy!

My predicted fourth round match-up: Caroline Wozniacki vs. (8) Serena Williams

 

Section Five

This is one of the tougher sections of the draw, but one where I think the two favoured players in last year’s US Open semi-finalist Belinda Bencic, and 2019 WTA Elite Trophy champion Aryna Sabalenka will make it through to the fourth round. However, Bencic will have to overcome 2017 Roland Garros champion Jeļena Ostapenko in the second round, and Anett Kontaveit in the third round, while Sabalenka has to overcome seven-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Carla Suárez Navarro in the opening round, 18 year old Iga Świątek in the second round, before meeting either 2019 US Open quarter-finalist Donna Vekić, 2008 Australian Open champion Maria Sharapova, who is the shadow of her former self having lost eight of her last 11 official matches, and hasn’t won consecutive matches since the 2019 Australian Open, or Alizé Cornet in the third round.

My predicted fourth round match-up: (6) Belinda Bencic vs. (11) Aryna Sabalenka

 

Section Six

Two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep has a tough first round against American Jennifer Brady, who defeated Barty in the second round in Brisbane after Brady went through qualifying in Brisbane, and then a potential third round meeting with last year’s Australian Open semi-finalist Danielle Collins. This is before a potential fourth round meeting with either 2019 US Open quarter-finalist Elise Mertens, British player Heather Watson, American youngster CiCi Bellis, who is on the comeback from various injuries, 2013 Wimbledon semi-finalist Kirsten Flipkens, or 2019 Wimbledon quarter-finalist Karolína Muchová.

However, given that Halep has lost in the first round in four of her nine previous Australian Open main draw appearances, and given the fact that Halep hasn’t gone through consecutive calendar years without losing in the first round of a Grand Slam event, it wouldn’t be a complete surprise if she were to go out before the business end of the tournament.

My predicted fourth round match-up: (16) Elise Mertens vs. (26) Danielle Collins

 

Section Seven

This is a complex section of the draw, but a section where you feel both Elina Svitolina, a quarter-finalist at Melbourne Park for the last two years, and 2016 Roland Garros semi-finalist Kiki Bertens should make it through to meet each other in the fourth round. However, Svitolina will need to beat either two-time Grand Slam champion Garbiñe Muguruza, or 2018 US Open semi-finalist Anastasija Sevastova in the third round, both match-ups not an easy task, while Bertens will have to face 18 year old American Amanda Anisimova, who of course made the semi-finals at Roland Garros last year, but will be playing her first Grand Slam tournament since Wimbledon last year after the tragic passing of her father Konstantin a week before last year’s US Open.

My predicted fourth round match-up: (5) Elina Svitolina vs. (9) Kiki Bertens

 

Section Eight

Last year’s Australian Open semi-finalist Karolína Plíšková has a brutal draw with two-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Kristina Mladenovic in the first round, a player who has great recent memories of Australia after being the player of the 2019 Fed Cup Final in Perth to help France to their first Fed Cup win since 2003, and their third overall. Plíšková then has 2017 Australian Open semi-finalist and wildcard CoCo Vandeweghe in the second round, five-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the third round before meeting fellow countrywoman and 2019 Roland Garros finalist Markéta Vondroušová, who is on the comeback from a wrist injury that kept her out for the back half of 2019 since Wimbledon, or 2016 Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber, who suffered a back injury in Adelaide, in the fourth round.

Vondroušová, before a potential match-up with her fellow Czech in the fourth round, will need to defeat two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the opening round, 2018 Wimbledon quarter-finalist Camila Giorgi, and Kerber in the third round.

However, the focus is on Plíšková, and if she gets through to the second week, she has her best chance of breaking through for her first Grand Slam title!

My predicted fourth round match-up: (15) Markéta Vondroušová vs. (2) Karolína Plíšková

 

My predicted quarter-final match-ups

(1) Ashleigh Barty vs. (10) Madison Keys

(3) Naomi Osaka vs. (8) Serena Williams

(11) Aryna Sabalenka vs. (26) Danielle Collins

(5) Elina Svitolina vs. (2) Karolína Plíšková

 

My predicted semi-final match-ups

(1) Ashleigh Barty vs. (3) Naomi Osaka

(11) Aryna Sabalenka vs. (2) Karolína Plíšková

 

My predicted final match-up

(1) Ashleigh Barty vs. (2) Karolína Plíšková

 

2020 Australian Open women’s singles champion

(1) Ashleigh Barty

2020 Australian Open – Men’s Singles Preview

Heading into the 2020 Australian Open, there is a lot of intrigue about men’s tennis, and for so many reasons, including the battle for supremacy between Roger Federer (20 Grand Slam titles), Rafael Nadal (19 Grand Slam titles), and Novak Djokovic (16 Grand Slam titles), and the title in many people’s eyes as the greatest male tennis player of all-time!

Can Nadal equal Federer on 20 by winning his second Australian Open and become the first player in the Open Era to win at every Grand Slam at least twice, and join Australian legends Roy Emerson and Rod Laver to have won each Grand Slam at least twice across the amateur and professional eras of the game?

Can Djokovic close the gap between himself and Federer to three by winning his eighth Australian Open, and become the first male player to win the Australian Open in consecutive years on three separate occasions?

Or, can Federer extend his lead to two over Nadal, and five over Djokovic by winning a record-equalling seventh Australian Open, and become the oldest grand slam champion in the Open era, going ahead of Australian legend Ken Rosewall, who won his final grand slam (his eighth overall, and his fourth Australian Open) at the age of 37 years and two months.

And Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic all have the opportunity of joining Rosewall as the only male players to have won Grand Slam titles in three separate decades, and become the first to do so entirely in the Open Era.

However, can anyone else stop these three undisputed all-time greats, and etch their names on the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup?

Here is my analysis of the 2020 Australian Open men’s singles draw!

 

Section One

Despite his form at the ATP Cup where Nadal won four of his six matches, the World No.1 should have no problems in reaching the fourth round at Melbourne Park where he should meet either Karen Khachanov or Nick Kyrgios. Of course Kyrgios carries the hopes of Australia in the men’s singles draw after the withdrawal of Alex de Minaur due to an abdominal injury, but will need to be better than what he was against Roberto Bautista Agut in the ATP Cup semi-final in Sydney if he is to trouble the 2009 Australian Open champion, and potentially make it through to a third Grand Slam quarter-final.

For Nadal though, he will sense that he will have bigger fish to fry, including a potential semi-final against Daniil Medvedev in what would be a re-match of last year’s US Open final, and a potential final up against either Djokovic in a re-match of last year’s Australian Open final, or a re-match of the 2017 Australian Open final against Federer, a match-up which could ultimately decide when it is all said and done, who finishes with the most Grand Slam titles of all-time!

My predicted fourth round match-up: (1) Rafael Nadal vs. (23) Nick Kyrgios

 

Section Two

This is a very competitive section of the draw featuring 2016 Australia Open quarter-finalist Gaël Monfils, former Wimbledon quarter-finalists in Lu Yen-hsun (2010), Ivo Karlović (2009), and Vasek Pospisil (2015), 19 year old sensation Félix Auger-Aliassime, who made three finals on the ATP Tour in 2019, as well as American Taylor Fritz, who defeated Sam Querrey to win his first career title at Eastbourne last year, two-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson, who showed some great form on his return from a right knee injury at the ATP Cup in Brisbane, 2016 Roland Garros quarter-finalist Albert Ramos Viñolas, Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, who defeated Jordan Thompson to win his first career title in ‘s-Hertogenbosch last year, and two-time Roland Garros finalist in Dominic Thiem.

Given the lack of success from Thiem outside of clay, and the general unpredictability of Monfils among other factors, this section is wide open!

My predicted fourth round match-up: (20) Félix Auger-Aliassime vs. Kevin Anderson

 

Section Three

The 2019 US Open finalist Daniil Medvedev, who was brilliant throughout the ATP Cup, should have little trouble in making it through to the fourth round for a potential meeting with 2014 Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka, although Medvedev faces last year’s Australian Open quarter-finalist Frances Tiafoe in the first round, and either 2008 Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Australian Alexei Popyrin in the third round, who got past the first round in each of his four Grand Slam appearances last year.

Looking at Wawrinka, he has a tough road to get to Medvedev, with match-ups against Damir Džumhur in the first round, Andreas Seppi or Miomir Kecmanović in the second round, and 2018 Wimbledon semi-finalist John Isner in the third round, and while you sense the three-time Grand Slam champion has another big run left in him, you also sense that it is Medvedev’s time to shine and potentially win his first Grand Slam title.

My predicted fourth round match-up: (4) Daniil Medvedev vs. (15) Stan Wawrinka

 

Section Four

Three-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist David Goffin, and two-time Roland Garros quarter-finalist Alexander Zverev are the favourites from this section to move through to the second week, and meet each other in the fourth round, although face potential banana skins in each round.

Goffin has 2013 Australian Open quarter-finalist Jérémy Chardy in the first round, before facing either Pierre-Hugues Herbert or Cameron Norrie in the second round, before a cracking third round match against Andrey Rublev, who made the quarter-finals at the US Open back in 2017, and just became the first player since Dominik Hrbatý in 2004 to win titles in each of the first two weeks of a new season.

However, given his strong form at the ATP Cup, including defeating Nadal in straight sets in Belgium’s quarter-final loss against Spain in Sydney, Goffin’s aim will be to go really deep into the second week at Melbourne Park, and potentially reach his first Grand Slam semi-final.

Zverev faces Marco Cecchinato in the first round, who other than reaching the semi-finals at Roland Garros in 2018, has failed to progress beyond the first round at each of his other 10 Grand Slam main draw appearances, before facing Casper Ruud in the second round, and then either 2009 Australian Open semi-finalist Fernando Verdasco, or Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili in the third round. However, given the issues that he has had with his second serve in recent times, this is perhaps not the tournament for Zverev to shine at this time around.

My predicted fourth round match-up: (11) David Goffin vs. (7) Alexander Zverev

 

Section Five

Last year’s US Open semi-finalist Matteo Berrettini should have no issues in making the third round, where he will meet either last year’s Australian Open semi-finalist Sam Querrey, or Borna Ćorić, before a potential all-Italian fourth round meeting with Fabio Fognini. However, Fognini has to overcome the highly-dangerous, big serving, and huge American in Reilly Opelka in the first round, and 2019 Wimbledon quarter-finalist Guido Pella in the third round before contemplating a meeting with his fellow countryman early in the second week.

My predicted fourth round match-up: (8) Matteo Berrettini vs. (12) Fabio Fognini

 

Section Six

Despite coming into the 2020 Australian Open with no official matches under his belt at the start of this year, you feel like Federer should have little trouble in reaching the second week once again, although he will have to be wary of Hubert Hurkacz in the third round, who was impressive for Poland at the ATP Cup, before meeting either the explosive Denis Shapovalov, or three-time Grand Slam semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov, with that third round encounter between the Canadian and the Bulgarian set to be an exhilarating battle.

However, back to Federer, can he make the semi-finals, and then defeat Djokovic, and then defeat Nadal in the final to claim his 21st Grand Slam singles title, and maybe secure his place as probably the greatest male tennis player of all-time? Only time will tell!

My predicted fourth round match-up: (18) Grigor Dimitrov vs. (3) Roger Federer

 

Section Seven

Last year’s Australian Open semi-finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas should have little difficulty in reaching the third round to face 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic, who is on the rebound from a back injury which kept him out of the 2019 Davis Cup Finals in Madrid, but Tsitsipas faces a potential banana skin in 2012 Wimbledon quarter-finalist Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second round before his meeting with the Canadian in the third round ahead of a potential fourth round classic with 2019 Wimbledon semi-finalist Roberto Bautista Agut, who has really been in career-best form, particularly at the ATP Cup where he didn’t lose a match.

However, the Spaniard has to face fellow countryman and four-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Feliciano López, and then either Benoît Paire or 2014 US Open champion Marin Čilić in the third round before a meeting with Tsitsipas.

However, given the amazing form of Bautista Agut, Tsitsipas will have his work cut out if he is to match his performance last year at Melbourne Park, and maybe restore the respect of his parents after his antics in the match against Nick Kyrgios at the ATP Cup in Brisbane.

My predicted fourth round match-up: (6) Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. (9) Roberto Bautista Agut

 

Section Eight

Fresh off leading Serbia to the inaugural ATP Cup crown, and winning each of his singles matches during the event, Novak Djokovic should have no problems in reaching the second week of the 2020 Australian Open, with three-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Diego Schwartzman likely to be his greatest challenge before the quarter-finals, but the greater question is can Djokovic go onto win his eighth Australian Open, and his 17th Grand Slam title to close the gap to Nadal and Federer? Few would bet against him, but nothing can be taken for granted, especially against Federer in a semi-final, and Nadal in a final.

My predicted fourth round match-up: (14) Diego Schwartzman vs. (2) Novak Djokovic

 

My predicted quarter-final match-ups

(1) Rafael Nadal vs. (20) Félix Auger-Aliassime

(4) Daniil Medvedev vs. (11) David Goffin

(8) Matteo Berrettini vs. (3) Roger Federer

(9) Roberto Bautista Agut vs. (2) Novak Djokovic

 

My predicted semi-final match-ups

(1) Rafael Nadal vs. (4) Daniil Medvedev

(3) Roger Federer vs. (2) Novak Djokovic

 

My predicted final match-up

(1) Rafael Nadal vs. (3) Roger Federer

 

2020 Australian Open men’s singles champion

(3) Roger Federer