The women’s tournament is usually much less predictable in the early rounds. The lack of big serves levels the playing field ( also known as a tennis court).
Anyone who follows tennis can tell you that if Serena is fit she is very likely to at least reach the final. Let’s have a look how the supporting actors might get on.
Section 1 is where Serena is. Probable opponents Zheng and Paszek will do well to win a few games. Vesnina could give a better test if she doesn’t feel the effects of her title win last week. The Russian is likely to meet Serena in the 4th round if she gets past Lisicki and Stosur. Both those matches could easily see her leave the tournament.
Laura Robson is also in this section. She meets top 10 player Kirilenko in the first round but if she could find a way to win that match she has a great chance to reach the 4th round with Goerges and probably Erakovic waiting for her in the following rounds. Robson needs to find a little extra to make this possible but with the home crowd behind her she has a habit of lifting her game against the top players.
How far Kerber gets before she implodes is anyone’s guess. I can see her reaching the 4th round where hopefully Robson will be waiting.
Predicted quarter finalists: Williams, Robson ( Laura won’t get a better chance if she can just make it past Kirilenko)
Section 2 is headed by Agnieszka Radwanska who reached the final last year. Her section includes Heather Watson who has made a fairly successful return after her illness. Watson faces Keys in the first round which won’t be easy but is a match she can win. If she does manage to then she will be rewarded with a second round match with Barthel. That match is most certainly winnable as Barthel seems to have entered her garbage period that is becoming a regular feature of her seasons.
The second round is full of probably fixtures that can genuinely go either way. Halep has to be tired as she has won titles in the last 2 weeks. She faces Li Na in the second round. Others in this section include Cibulkova, Hantuchova, Petrova and Pavlyuchenkova. That list has women on it that would cause psychologists nightmares.
Having tossed several coins, predicted quarter finalists are Radwanska, Vinci/Halep. Obviously after the battering that Halep handed to Vinci last week she should be favourite but I will be amazed if her body doesn’t fail her at some stage in week 1.
Section 3 is Sharapova’s. Many people’s favourite to join Serena in the final Sharapova has potentially tricky matches with Bartoli and Safarova. Bartoli withdrew from Eastbourne before facing Li Na. Bartoli does well on the grass but her fitness is clearly an issue. I would expect a fit Bartoli who seems to have sorted her service issues to beat McHale and Cirstea.
Errani leads the top half of this section and looks safe enough to reach the 4th round. Who she plays there could be down to a rematch between Hampton and Wozniacki. Hampton won a great match with Woz last week in Eastbourne but having reached the final as a qualifier there must be some fatigue issues. If that is in fact the case then Petkovic could trouble her in their second round match.
Predicted quarter finalists: Wozniacki, Sharapova.
Finally section 4 which is where we find Azarenka. She looks comfortable to reach the 4th round where I expect her opponent to be Jankovic. To get there Jankovic needs to beat Wickmayer who had a good week in Eastbourne until she fell apart mentally in the semi final. I really don’t expect her to be in any state to beat Jankovic in the second round. Jankovic’s 3rd round opponent will possibly be Flipkens if Jovanovski doesn’t take her down in the second round. Flipkens is another player who did well last week but her performance in the final wasn’t great and that will have taken its toll on her body and mind.
The other half of this section has 2 players with the pedigree to reach the quarter finals in Kvitova and Ivanovic. Kvitova won the tournament in 2011 but like Ivanovic her form has been so unpredictable.
Makarova and Suarez Navarro are outsiders with a chance if Kvitova and Ivanovic have nightmares.
Predicted quarter finalists: Kvitova, Sharapova.
Predicted final: Williams v Azarenka.
Predicted Champion: Williams.