Serena and Sharapova are seeded to reach the quarter final but I am not over confident about either of them making it.
It could be Wozniacki or even Schmiedlova who put Serena out. She pulled out of one match at the Hopman Cup and retired against Wolfe.
For Sharapova it could be fellow Russians in form Kuznetsova or Pavlyuchenkova. Bencic could take advantage of an off day from her. Sharapova is last year’s finalist so the pressure is on to defend those ranking points.
We have some real quality in a section that also includes Errani.
As anyone beating Serena or Sharapova really relies on them having a bad day I will go with them to meet in the quarter final.
Predicted quarter final: S Williams v Sharapova
Another quality section. Radwanska will have earned her place in the quarter final if she gets there. Bouchard in the second round, Stosur in the 3rd and probably Stephens in the 4th round.
I expect Stosur to get a little revenge over Puig and Vinci could upset Stephens in the 3rd round.
The other half of this section has Kvitova who is another of the top players who isn’t 100% fit. She takes on Gavrilova in the 2nd round which could be a good battle especially if Kvitova is below par.
Cibulkova could benefit from an early exit from Kvitova. They are due to meet in the 3rd round. I won’t be surprised to see Cibulkova have another good run in Melbourne.
Carla Suarez Navarro should make it to the 3rd round where she is likely to meet the winner from the Petkovic v Niculescu match.
Predicted quarter final: Radwanska v Cibulkova
Kerber has made a strong start to the season. Her first real test isn’t likely until the 3rd round. Vandeweghe has lost both her matches in 2016 but reached the 3rd round last year.
Jankovic and Bacsinszky could also meet in the 3rd round and that one can go either way.
At the other end of the section is Muguruza who is likely to be joined by Garcia, Svitolina and Azarenka in the 3rd round. I’d fancy Muguruza to beat Garcia and Azarenka to get past Svitolina.
Predicted quarter final: Kerber v Azarenka
Halep will need to consistently play her best tennis if she is to do herself justice over the next couple of weeks. We saw glimpses of it last week but she also showed that she can drop her level if put under pressure. Tsurenko shouldn’t put her under too much pressure in the 3rd round but if she meets Keys in the 4th round she will need to be on her game. Keys reached the semis last year.
The other half of this section has Venus, Lisicki, Pliskova and Makarova. They would be my picks for the 3rd round leading to a 4th round meeting between Venus and Pliskova.
Predicted quarter final: V Williams v Pliskova.