WTA St. Petersburg draw preview and predictions

WTA St. Petersburg draw preview and predictions

Tennis continues around the globe as the WTA tour transits from Melbourne to St. Petersburg, with the world's best players in action once again.

don-han
Don Han

The tour transits from the first Grand Slam of the year to the normal WTA tournaments as the fans get a well-deserved rest after two weeks of thrilling tennis in Melbourne. Nevertheless, there would definitely still be some incredible tennis played at the Premier event in St. Petersburg as it boasts a strong field, with three top 10 players participating in the tournament. Also, many Russian players would return to their home country to vie for the title, making the field even more packed.

Who is playing?

The top seed in St. Petersburg would be Simona Halep, the world number four, as she makes her return to Russia after a fruitful performance in her last appearance here in Russia as she won the title at the Kremlin Cup in 2013. The second seed, Dominika Cibulkova, would return to St. Petersburg with some good memories after reaching the quarterfinals here last year losing to Daria Kasatkina. With a good run here, both Halep and Cibulkova can rise to the world number three spot, which is currently occupied by Karolina Pliskova.

The highest ranked Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova showed her sense of belonging as she is going to make her debut in St. Petersburg, and has a history of success playing in Russia having won the Kremlin Cup twice in a row. Being on the losing end of the Australian Open final just yesterday, Venus Williams would also make her way to St. Petersburg to make her debut appearance, where she can rise back into the top 10 with a title run.

Venus Williams during the Australian Open trophy ceremony | Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images AsiaPac
Venus Williams during the Australian Open trophy ceremony | Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images AsiaPac

Daria Kasatkina, Kiki Bertens, Roberta Vinci and Elena Vesnina rounds off the seeds, headlining the world-class field. Roberta Vinci is the defending champion here, having defeated Belinda Bencic in the final last year.

Draw Preview

First Quarter: [1] Simona Halep

Top seed Simona Halep would have a very difficult task in her opening match as either her compatriot and good friend Monica Niculescu or hard-hitter Ana Konjuh would be her opponent in the second round after receiving a bye. Halep would look to get her season going as she disappointingly lost in the second round of the Shenzhen Open to Katerina Siniakova and crashed out in the first round of the Australian Open to Shelby Rogers, where she was apparently hampered by a leg injury. There would be a blockbuster match between the resurgent Belinda Bencic and the young rising star in Daria Kasatkina, having their third straight meeting in Russia. Bencic suffered a toe injury in Sydney and faced tough luck in Melbourne having drawn the legendary Serena Williams in the opening round, whom she lost to eventually. Kasatkina had a great start to the year but crashed out in the opening round of the Australian Open to Peng Shuai.

Quarterfinal Prediction: [8] Daria Kasatkina d. [1] Simona Halep

Daria Kasatkina earned a win over Angelique Kerber recently | Photo: Brett Hemmings/Getty Images AsiaPac
Daria Kasatkina earned a win over Angelique Kerber recently | Photo: Brett Hemmings/Getty Images AsiaPac

Second Quarter: [4] Venus Williams

Fourth seed Venus Williams comes off fresh after her run to the final at the recently completed Australian Open, losing to her sister Serena Williams there. However, she must keep up the level of tennis she played in Melbourne as she would most probably open against Kristina Mladenovic after she received a bye into the second round. The other seed in this quarter, Roberta Vinci, faces an uphill battle too if she wants to successfully defend her title here. She faces Timea Babos in the opening game, before having a potential meeting with Irina-Camelia Begu in the second round. The match between Babos and Vinci would be a rematch of their thriller at the exact same tournament last year in which Vinci triumphed in three sets, clinching the final set tiebreak.  

Quarterfinal Prediction: [6] Roberta Vinci d. Kristina Mladenovic

Roberta Vinci holds up her trophy from last year | Photo: Brett Hemmings/Getty Images AsiaPac
Roberta Vinci holds up her trophy from last year | Photo: St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy

Third Quarter: [3] Svetlana Kuznetsova

Third seed Svetlana Kuznetsova would open her campaign in her home country against either wildcard Anna Kalinskaya or a rematch of last year’s Moscow final against Daria Gavrilova. Kuznetsova is the favourite to go deep into the tournament having been handed a favourable draw, and a meeting with Kiki Bertens looms ahead at the quarterfinals stage. It would be a big test for the Russian as Bertens leads their head to head record by 2-1, with their most memorable meeting being the Fed Cup match between Netherlands and Russia, where Bertens sealed the win for her country after defeating the former world number two.  Bertens would open against Annika Beck, before potentially meeting a tough opponent in Yulia Putintseva.

Quarterfinal Prediction: [3] Svetlana Kuznetsova d. Yulia Putintseva

Svetlana Kuznetsova would aim to win her third straight title in Russia | Photo: Kremlin Cup
Svetlana Kuznetsova would aim to win her third straight title in Russia | Photo: Kremlin Cup

Fourth Quarter: [2] Dominika Cibulkova

Second seed Dominika Cibulkova headlines the last quarter, but she would most probably face Jelena Ostapenko in her opening round match, which would definitely be a very unpredictable match. The fifth seed Elena Vesnina would play her first round match against doubles partner Ekaterina Makarova, with the winner facing either a qualifier or Alize Cornet, who reached the final in Brisbane. All the players would look to go deep into the tournament, with all the players here ranked in the top 35 of the rankings for at least once in their careers.

Dominika Cibulkova just lost to Ekaterina Makarova at the Australian Open | Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images AsiaPac
Dominika Cibulkova just lost to Ekaterina Makarova at the Australian Open | Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images AsiaPac

Quarterfinal Prediction: Ekaterina Makarova d. Jelena Ostapenko

Semifinals Predictions: [8] Daria Kasatkina d. [6] Roberta Vinci, [3] Svetlana Kuznetsova d. Ekaterina Makarova

Final Prediction: [3] Svetlana Kuznetsova d. [8] Daria Kasatkina

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