The draw is in and well it’s going to be a fun week in Madrid! The big matches and tough match-ups come into play from round one so let’s take a look at each half of the draw.
A top heavy top half of the draw. Naomi Osaka obviously leads the pack as world number one but in this half there is also Eli Svitolina, Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova and Ash Barty amongst others.
Naomi Osaka v Dominika Cibulkova
Big test for Naomi is this. Domi if she turns up can be a great difficulty to play against but her turning up is a rarity. We have seen before she can do it and of course once won the WTA Finals in Singapore. Naomi has been training on site in Madrid and has been spotted with a support on her abdomen following her withdrawal from Stuttgart.
Aliaksandra Sasnovich v Anett Kontaveit
Kontaveit really impressed us all in Stuttgart, her big baseline game will face a tougher test in Madrid with the courts much slower and Sasnovich will bring a stubborn baseline approach and for me if Anett want’s to go far in this competition she needs to mix it up and against the Belarussian she will have to do that!
Karolina Pliskova v Dayana Yastremska
Interesting to see where Pliskova is at here. Her season has fizzled a little which I think is fair to say for one reason or another following her run in Melbourne and 18 year old Yastremska will be a tough opponent to break down. Her season likewise has fizzled since her good run in Melbourne and Hua Hin but it is set to be an interesting battle.
Maria Sakkari v Carla Suarez Navarro
Carla will be home favourite, her clay court game is one of the most underrated on the tour she brings the slice and the backhand to the court so well but if Maria is on her game she is tough to breakdown. She can get frustrated which I saw in Melbourne when I watched her against Barty but if she can shake that side of her game off she can become top 25 easily.
Ash Barty v Daria Gavrilova
All Australian battle. I may be being a little harsh here but I feel that Ash has to prove herself a little on clay. Her game and that sliced backhand she has should propel her on a clay court to contend and the energy of her fellow Australian will provide a tough challenge. One of those players in the draw that on her day is tough to beat.
Daria Kasatkina v Victoria Azarenka
Vika isn’t getting the luck with draws but her results since she appeared in Monterrey where she made the final have been very good. Daria just can’t get going this year she has two wins and eight defeats so far. The court will allow her some time but the way Vika has played of late she won’t.
Qiang Wang v Donna Vekic
Donna is playing well this year. I don’t think she ever gets the credit she deserves, she has been solid and the other day she played her 450th career match in Stuttgart. She is 22 years old. That’s mad! Wang is in good form this year and tough opener for the Croat but I really feel on these courts she can let go a little more and I hope she gets the job done.
Petra Martic v Garbine Muguruza
Petra is in good form this year. Winner in Istanbul not long ago and semi-finalist in Charleston with her big baseline game will cause issues for Garbine. I was heavily critical of her choice to go to Monterrey last year because it did nothing for her year I’m now wanting to see how she does now, is pressure on her? I think so!
Su-Wei Hsieh v Caroline Garcia
Garcia defeated Hsieh in Tianjin when she went onto win the title there. Hsieh has grabbed the imagination with her lovely tennis and Caroline hasn’t really had a good run since Tianjin and on clay since her last year where she made the semi-finals and has a lot of points to defend but if Hsieh gets going quick and Caro can’t find her range an early exit wouldn’t be of surprise.