WTA Brisbane International preview
Elina Svitolina holds up the championship trophy after winning the 2018 Brisbane International/Photo: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

WTA Brisbane International preview

The first tournament of the new season features a strong field including the defending champion, reigning U.S. Open champion and top-ranked American.

john-lupo
John Lupo

The 2019 WTA Tour kicks off its season with three tournaments, most notably the Brisbane International, which boasts seven of the top ten players in the WTA rankings.

With such a strong field to begin the year, fans can look forward to great action right away. Here's a preview of what to expect with main draw play beginning tomorrow:

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Svitolina, Osaka headline stacked field

The top seed is defending champion Elina Svitolina. The Ukranian claimed the biggest title of her career to end 2018, defeating Sloane Stephens in three sets at the WTA Finals in Singapore.

Svitolina knocked off Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the final of this event last year and the two could meet again, this time in the second round of if the Belarussian gets past a qualifier in her opening match.

Second seed Naomi Osaka stunned the tennis world with her victory at the U.S. Open, completing a dominant tournament with a controversial win over Serena Williams in the championship match.

A tough draw could see her square off with Kristina Mladenovic, Anastasija Sevastova and Daria Kasatkina, whom the world number five beat in Indian Wells , just to reach the final.

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Stephens, Pliskova look towards possible quarterfinal showdown

Stephens, the reigning Miami Open champion, is the third seed while Tokyo winner Karolina Pliskova slots in as the fifth seed. The American has a dangerous first round match against Brit Johanna Konta. 

The Czech was given a much kinder path to a potential last eight matchup with Stephens as she meets Yulia Putintseva in round one and either Samantha Stosur, a wild card entrant into this year's field or a qualifier in round two.

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Kvitova, Bertens amongst other contenders in tournament

Fourth seed Petra Kvitova and sixth seed Kiki Bertens are also a part of this loaded event with the Czech, coming off of a 2018 which saw her win five titles, begins her tournament against American Danielle Collins .

Bertens had her best season a year ago, taking the Charleston and Cincinnati crowns while finishing the year ranked a career-high ninth, but Australian Open semifinalist Elisinne Mertens is her opening foe and could very well send the Dutchwoman to an early exit.

Who will claim the Brisbane trophy?

With such a powerful field to start 2019, the tournament can be won by a number of players. Matches such as Stephens-Konta and Mertens-Bertens are about as tough as it can get for a first round in a Premier tournament and talented youngsters such as Kasatkina and Anett Kontaveit could also spring a surprise or two.

The three former champions in the field in Kvitova, Pliskova and Svitolina means you would have to look towards them as the top contenders. Stephens and Osaka should also not be overlooked while the Mertens-Bertens winner can also make a strong case as a title contender.

In the end, Pliskova looks to have the most comfortable path to the semifinals in the top half of the draw while Kvitova should emerge from the bottom half to set up a battle of former champions in what should be a hard-hitting, powerful climax to a much-anticipated opening event of the 2019 season.

Predictions

Semifinals: Pliskova def. Svitolina, Kvitova def. Osaka

Final: Kvitova def. Pliskova

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