Top Quarter – Angelique Kerber, Svetlana Kuznetsova
Back at World No. 1 Angelique Kerber arrives short on wins, with the exception of a bit of a flurry in Madrid. It is certainly not an easy start for Kerber – Ekaterina Makarova is her opening gambit, although the German leads 7-4 in their head to head.
She has a closer head to head with her potential third round foe Roberta Vinci, but a Kerber in form should weather that particular storm. While hearts will want the returning Petra Kvitova to be the one to face Kerber in the fourth round, the chances are that she will just start her journey back at the tournament. Most likely she will face Sam Stosur and will be searching for her first win on clay against the Aussie. It doesn’t get any easier as she possibly faces former French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarter-finals.
Second Quarter – Garbiñe Muguruza, Dominika Cibulkova
It will be a challenge for Garbiñe Muguruza to live up to the mantle of defending champion. In only her last tournament, things looked like they had finally clicked into place for the Spaniard before a random neck injury saw her retire in the Rome semi-final. She has a perhaps an emotional start against former champion Francesca Schiavone who was denied a chance to say farewell in her home tournament.
In normal circumstances this would be the quarter to watch. The Rome finalists, the Madrid champion in the same section of the draw, but for a cruel twist of fate, and of the ankle. Simona Halep confirmed that the twist tore an ankle ligament, just as she was fast establishing herself as a firm favourite for the French Open title. She has been practicing and is in the draw, but remains to be seem how she can play.
Elina Svitolina on the other hand is looking pretty solid to come out of this quarter. She could face either Anastasija Sevastovaor Madison Keys in the fourth round, and has the form to whoever does make it out of Halep’s end of the bracket.
Bottom Quarter – Johanna Konta, Karolina Pliskova
This is a fascinating bracket – Karolina Pliskova enjoyed her best run on the clay this season in Rome and she ought to be assured of a run to at least the fourth round if not the quarter-finals. There she might meet an improving Johanna Konta.
Clay is not the best surface for either of the two high seeds in this bracket, but with a field that is wide open it is a perfect chance for either to make their charge. Konta’s challenge is to get past a good clay courter in Caroline Garcia at the third round and most either Agnieszka Radwanska whose clay court season has been hampered by injury, or Barbora Strycova who has a little more match sharpness as a possible fourth round.
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