2017 Australian Open: Women's Doubles draw preview and predictions

2017 Australian Open: Women's Doubles draw preview and predictions

The first grand slam of 2017 finally begins Down Under at the Australian Open, and the women's doubles draw is packed as always. The competition at the top is very tight and it would be hard to predict the winners with so many quality pairings in the draw.

don-han
Don Han

Defending Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza would not defend their title together as a pair this year at this year’s Australian Open after they made the decision to split up just before the Cincinnati Masters due to a string of poor results. Martina Hingis would pair up with American Coco Vandeweghe at this year’s competition, while Sania Mirza would partner her long-term partner, Barbora Strycova.

The top seeds for the competition would be the all-French pairing of Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic, who were the ITF World Champions last year after winning the French Open and reaching the final of the US Open.

Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic would look to add the Australian Open to their collection of trophies | Photo: Francois Nel/Getty Images Europe
Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic would look to add the Australian Open to their collection of trophies | Photo: Francois Nel/Getty Images Europe

New doubles world number one Bethanie Mattek-Sands would also play her first ever tournament as the top-ranked player as she would partner her long-time partner Lucie Safarova, whom she had a very successful partnership with as they won three grand slams in a span of two years together.

Whereas, third seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina would return to Melbourne as a pair after missing out on last year’s competition due to Makarova’s injury problems that caused her singles ranking to drop drastically.

Defending finalist Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka also made the decision to split up this year, with Hlavackova partnering former world number one Peng Shuai and Hradecka partnering another compatriot in Katerina Siniakova.

Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka reached the final here last year | Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images AsiaPac
Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka reached the final here last year | Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images AsiaPac

There is a surprise pairing lurking in the draw as Serena Williams and Venus Williams would once again participate in the doubles competition as the 15th seeds.

Australian Open Women’s Doubles Draw Preview

First Quarter: [1] Caroline Garcia/ Kristina Mladenovic

Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic would once again pair up as a pair after a very successful debut season last year and would play as the top seeds here. They won their first grand slam title as a pair at the French Open, which was coincidentally their home event, therefore making it more special. The all-French pairing also reached the final of the US Open and is the number one pair in the world at the moment. To cap off an incredible year, they were named the ITF world champions for their achievements on the court throughout the whole year.

Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic in Singapore last year | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images AsiaPac
Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic in Singapore last year | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images AsiaPac

The next top seed in this first section would be Martina Hingis and Coco Vandeweghe, who paired up only recently in August. Hingis is the defending champion alongside Sania Mirza, but they have gone their own ways last year in August after some disappointing results. That split proved costly for Hingis as she lost her place at the top of the rankings and dropped to number four by year-end.

The top seeds would face a pairing made up of two singles specialists in Belinda Bencic and Ana Konjuh in the opening round. They should be able to enter the third round with their potential opponents being either 13th seeds Katarina Srebotnik and Zheng Saisai, who are a new pairing, or Christina McHale and Asia Muhammad, who have created numerous upsets on the doubles circuit in the past.

Christina McHale and Asia Muhammad discussing tactics during the Rogers Cup last year | Photo: Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images North America
Christina McHale and Asia Muhammad discussing tactics during the Rogers Cup last year | Photo: Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images North America

It would be a tough opener for 10th seeds Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova as they would face veterans Anna-Lena Gronefeld and Kveta Peschke in the first round, of which both of them are former top 10 players in doubles. Whereas, fifth seeds Martina Hingis and Coco Vandeweghe would open their campaign against Jelena Jankovic and Yanina Wickmayer, before potentially facing a very dangerous pairing in Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua, who reached three grand slam finals in 2013.

Top seeds predictions:

[1] Caroline Garcia/Kristina Mladenovic: Third round

The top seeds have not played a single event together as a pair this year and lack match practice entering the Australian Open. Garcia was speculated to be suffering from an injury as she had to withdraw from the Sydney International last week but gave no official statements to the media. They should still be able to get to the third round, but the 13th seeds Katarina Srebotnik and Zheng Saisai would be a tough pair to beat.

[5] Martina Hingis/Coco Vandeweghe: Third round

Fifth seeds Hingis and Vandeweghe suffered a disappointing exit last week in Sydney to eventual champions Timea Babos and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets, with Hingis not able to defend both her titles in the first two weeks. Being the defending champion here in Melbourne, the Swiss-American pair faces a tough draw and the winner between Lucie Hradecka/Katerina Siniakova and Anna-Lena Gronefeld/Kveta Peschke should be able to trouble them.

First-round matches to watch:

Christina McHale/Asia Muhammad - Katarina Srebotnik/Zheng Saisai, Lucie Hradecka/Katerina Siniakova - Anna-Lena Gronefeld/Kveta Peschke

Quarterfinal Prediction:

[13] Katarina Srebotnik/Zheng Saisai def. Anna-Lena Gronefeld/Kveta Peschke

Martina Hingis and Coco Vandeweghe in action at the US Open last year | Photo: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images North America
Martina Hingis and Coco Vandeweghe in action at the US Open last year | Photo: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images North America

Second Quarter: [3] Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina

The Russian pairing of Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina would return to the Australian Open as a pair after they missed last year’s competition due to Makarova’s injury concerns. They made a late season surge last year after winning their first title of the year at the Rogers Cup, before extending their winning streak to seal the gold medal at the Rio Olympics for Russia. They capped off the year perfectly as they triumphed at the WTA Finals defeating Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova in the final.

Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in action here two years ago | Photo: Robert Prezioso/Getty Images AsiaPac
Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in action here two years ago | Photo: Robert Prezioso/Getty Images AsiaPac

The next top seeds in this quarter are the seventh seeds Julia Goerges and Karolina Pliskova, who had their best season last year as a pair having reached the final of Indian Wells, and the semifinals of both the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

The third seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina would face a clear path to the quarterfinals as they should be able to stroll through the draw without any difficulties. The only real threat should be coming from the 14th seeds Kiki Bertens and Johanna Larsson, who would be their potential opponents in the third round.

Seventh seeds Julia Goerges and Karolina Pliskova faces a tough opener as they were drawn to face veterans Andreja Klepac and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez in the first round. If they were to get past the first few rounds, a tougher pair awaits in the third round as Andrea Hlavackova and Peng Shuai could be waiting there.

Julia Goerges and Karolina Pliskova making their debut in Singapore | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images AsiaPac
Julia Goerges and Karolina Pliskova making their debut in Singapore | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images AsiaPac

Top seeds predictions:

[3] Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina: Semifinals

The Russians reached the final of the Brisbane International in their first event of 2017, losing to Mattek-Sands/Mirza. However, after being given a favourable draw, they are the favourites to reach the semifinals and mount a title challenge.

[7] Julia Goerges/Karolina Pliskova: First round

Goerges and Pliskova have not played a doubles event together this year, and have a lack of match practice entering the first grand slam of the year. It would be difficult to gauge their level of tennis now, and their opponents are on good form now especially after defeating the Chan sisters in Sydney last week.

First-round matches to watch:

Julia Goerges/Karolina Pliskova - Andreja Klepac/Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez

Quarterfinal Prediction:

[3] Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina def. [12] Andrea Hlavackova/Peng Shuai

Andrea Hlavackova and Peng Shuai in 2014 | Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images AsiaPac
Andrea Hlavackova and Peng Shuai in 2014 | Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images AsiaPac

Third Quarter: [4] Sania Mirza/Barbora Strycova

Sania Mirza and Barbora Strycova would play their first Australian Open together as a pair considering they only paired up together in last August. Despite playing as a pair for just a total of three months last year, they were number 11 on the Road to Singapore leaderboard, having won Cincinnati and Tokyo and losing in the final of Wuhan. As a confirmed pairing for the rest of the year, this Indo-Czech pairing is definitely one of the most dangerous pairs on the tour.

Sania Mirza and Barbora Strycova in Cincinnati with their title | Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America
Sania Mirza and Barbora Strycova in Cincinnati with their title | Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images North America

The next highest seeds in this quarter would be the eighth seeds Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova, who reunited after splitting up for four years. They have previously won two grand slam titles in 2010 together and reached a grand slam final in 2011, and was one of the best pairings then. This would just be their second tournament back together after they reached the semifinals at Sydney last week.

Eighth seeds Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova should have the ability to get past the early rounds and are the favourites to reach the quarterfinals. The two pairs that are able to pull off an upset are Demi Schuurs/Renata Voracova and ninth seeds Abigail Spears/Monica Niculescu, with Schuurs and Voracova reaching the semifinals of the Hobart International and winning the Auckland Open in the past weeks.

Fourth seeds Sania Mirza and Barbora Strycova are also favourites to reach the quarterfinals as the draw was favourable for them. Their potential opponents in the second round, Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai, would be a dangerous pairing and are definitely capable for an upset. 16th seeds Darija Jurak and Anastasia Rodionova could also pose some problems for them, but the fourth seeds would still be the favourites to stroll to the quarterfinals.

Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai in action at the 2016 French Open | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe
Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai in action at the 2016 French Open | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images Europe

Top seeds predictions:

[4] Sania Mirza/Barbora Strycova: Semifinals

Mirza and Strycova lost in the final of the Sydney International just a few days ago and has sufficient match practice coming into Melbourne. Should they keep up their solid tennis, they would be able to go deep in the tournament.

[8] Vania King/Yaroslava Shvedova: Quarterfinals

King and Shvedova have the ability to go deep into grand slams as proven in 2010, but many would be wondering if they can return to their top form once again as a pair. They should have enough to get past the early rounds but as they proceed deeper in the draw, the tougher it is.

Potential second round matches to watch:

Vania King/Yaroslava Shvedova - Demi Schuurs/Renata Voracova, Sania Mirza/Barbora Strycova - Samantha Stosur/Zhang Shuai

Quarterfinal Prediction:

[4] Sania Mirza/Barbora Strycova def. [8] Vania King/Yaroslava Shvedova

Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova in action during 2012 | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America
Vania King and Yaroslava Shvedova in action during 2012 | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America

Fourth Quarter: [2] Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Lucie Safarova

The new world number one Bethanie Mattek-Sands, together with her partner Lucie Safarova, would headline the packed last quarter as the second seeds. Mattek-Sands and Safarova had another incredible season as they won the Miami Open, Wuhan Open and the China Open. They also added the US Open to their collection of grand slam trophies and reached the final of the WTA Finals.

Sixth seeds Chan Hao-ching and Chan Yung-jan would join them in the last quarter as they continue to pair up together after yet another successful season which saw them qualify for the WTA Finals once again. The Chan sisters won three titles last year and would be looking to start this season on a positive note with a deep run here.

The Chan sisters in action at Singapore last year | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images AsiaPac
The Chan sisters in action at Singapore last year | Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images AsiaPac

The Chan sisters should be able to get to the quarterfinals easily as they were handed a favourable draw which gives them a good opportunity to progress deep into the tournament. Their first real test would be in the third round, up against potential opponents 11th seeds Raquel Atawo and Xu Yi-fan.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova were faced with a much tougher draw in the bottom section of the last quarter, having to either face Sara Errani/Kirsten Flipkens or Daria Kasatkina/Daria Gavrilova in the second round. Even if they get past the first two rounds, this American-Czech pair would face a tougher opponent in either Timea Babos/Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the Sydney International champion, or Serena Williams/Venus Williams, whose participation came as a surprise.

Top seeds predictions:

[2] Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Lucie Safarova: Second Round

Mattek-Sands and Safarova have not played as a pair this year yet, and it would be Mattek-Sands’ first tournament as the top-ranked player in the world. Faced with a tough draw, a dangerous pairing in Daria Kasatkina and Daria Gavrilova would be able to pose some problems for them in the second round. Kasatkina and Gavrilova defeated them at last year’s Wimbledon Championships, and they definitely have the ability to replicate the upset. Even if the second seed progresses, the Williams sisters would definitely be the favourites if they were to get through too despite being lower-ranked.

The team "Bucie" with their title at the Miami Open | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America
The team "Bucie" with their title at the Miami Open | Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America

[6] Chan Hao-ching/Chan Yung-jan: Quarterfinal

The Chan sisters have the favourable draw that they wanted to get their season going after they started the season the worst way ever having lost in the opening rounds consecutively, coming in the Australian Open winless. The quarterfinal would definitely be a tough match-up for them as the Williams sisters, Mattek-Sands/Safarova or Babos/Pavlyuchenkova could be waiting there.

First-round matches to watch:

Serena Williams/Venus Williams - Timea Babos/Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Potential second round matches to watch:

Bethanie Mattek-Sands/Lucie Safarova - Daria Kasatkina/Daria Gavrilova

Quarterfinal Prediction:

[15] Serena Williams/Venus Williams def. [6] Chan Hao-ching/Chan Yung-jan

The Williams sisters at the Rio Olympics | Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images South America
The Williams sisters at the Rio Olympics | Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images South America

Semifinals Predictions:

[3] Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina def. [13] Katarina Srebotnik/Zheng Saisai

[15] Serena Williams/Venus Williams def. [4] Sania Mirza/Barbora Strycova

Final Prediction:

[3] Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina def. [15] Serena Williams/Venus Williams

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