WTA tennis of the 2020s is set to kick off with three tournaments in the first week of the new decade, the Premier-level Brisbane International, alongside the Shenzhen Open and the ASB Classic, the latter two being International events. As history has shown, the Brisbane field is a star-studded one, this time featuring the likes of world number one and home player Ashleigh Barty, and winners of the past three editions, Karolina Pliskova (2017 and 2019) and Elina Svitolina (2018).
Focus on Brisbane
Queensland’s capital, Brisbane, will do the honours of opening the first tennis season of a new decade for the second time in a row, this time as a Premier event. Established as an International event in 2009, it was elevated to Premier status in 2012. Its first three winners here were Victoria Azarenka (2009), Kim Clijsters (2010) and Petra Kvitova (2011).
Kaia Kanepi was the surprise winner in 2012, the tournament’s first stint as a Premier event. Serena Williams then claimed back-to-back titles before Sharapova’s triumph in 2015. Azarenka followed in Williams’ footsteps by claiming her second crown here in 2016, before Pliskova achieved the same feat in 2017 and 2019, with Svitolina crowned champion in 2018. The top two seeds of the tournament, Barty and Pliskova, received byes into the second round.
2020 will mark Brisbane’s first year hosting a women-only event with the men’s event abolished to make way for the inaugural and ongoing ATP Cup, which is played across three cities on the Australian continent, Brisbane alongside Perth and Sydney. Both events will take place at the Queensland Tennis Centre, on King Arthur Terrace in the Tennyson suburb of the city, along the eastern bank of the Brisbane River.
Top-seeded Barty, in a quarter stacked with Grand Slam winners, could also be in for a cracker as the Aussie plays the winner of the opening match between Maria Sharapova and a qualifier. The Aussie won her most recent clash against Sharapova at the Australian Open last year. On the other end of the quarter, fifth seed Kvitova goes up against top-ranked Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in her opener in what promises to be a big-hitting encounter, the winner due to face one of Sloane Stephens or a qualifier next.
Prediction: Barty d. Stephens
Fourth seed Svitolina headlines this quarter. The Ukrainian opens her Brisbane campaign against American Danielle Collins, the winner set to face either Donna Vekic or a qualifier. Meanwhile, Aussie wildcard and veteran Samantha Stosur takes on 2016 runner-up Angelique Kerber in her opening match, a clash of Grand Slam champions. The winner of that match will then set up clash with eighth seed Madison Keys or a qualifier for a spot in the last eight.
Prediction: Svitolina d. Kerber
Reigning Australian Open champion and third seed Naomi Osaka is in this quarter, the most-packed of the draw. The Japanese player goes up against Greek Maria Sakkari in her opener, with Sofia Kenin or Anastasija Sevastova looming in the next round. Meanwhile, sixth-seeded Kiki Bertens faces Dayana Yastremska in her opening match, in what will be the pair’s third clash in as many as four months. The winner of that match will then go on to face Anett Kontaveit or Hsieh Su-wei next.
Prediction: Yastremska d. Osaka
Second seed Pliskova leads the last quarter, the only one not to feature a Grand Slam champion. The defending champion was handed a doable draw as she is set to face one of two local wildcards, in Ajla Tomljanovic and Priscilla Hon, in her first match. Meanwhile, seventh seed Johanna Konta plays Barbora Strycova in her opening match, and the winner will take on either Alison Riske or Karolina Muchova for a quarterfinal berth.
Prediction: Pliskova d. Muchova