Aryna Sabalenka in the final of the 2023 Australian Open, Melbourne
Aryna Sabalenka in the final of the 2023 Australian Open, Melbourne | (Photo by Andy Cheung/Getty Images)

Tennis | Australian Open 2024 | Women’s Draw Preview

By Tony Fairbairn

  • Defending champion Aryna Sabalenka prepares for first Grand Slam title defence against in-form Iga Swiatek and Elena Rybakina
  • Top Seeds: Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina, Coco Gauff
  • British Interest: Katie Boulter, Jodie Burrage, Emma Raducanu
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Defending champion Aryna Sabalenka prepares for her first Grand Slam title defence as the world number two takes on the in-form Iga Swiatek and Elena Rybakina in Melbourne.

 

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[1] Iga Swiatek

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Best Result: Semi-Final (2022)

Once again Swiatek proved that she is the best player in the world after winning the WTA Finals at the end of last season and now the Pole will hope that this year is the year that she can claim the title in Melbourne.

Swiatek’s Path to the Final (Ranking/Seeding)

  • R1: Sofia Kenin | H2H: First Meeting
  • R2: Danielle Collins | H2H: Swiatek leads 5-1
  • R3: Marie Bouzkova [31] | H2H: First Meeting
  • R4: Veronika Kudermetova [15] | H2H: Swiatek leads 4-1
  • QF: Marketa Vondrousova [7] | H2H: Swiatek leads 3-0
  • SF: Elena Rybakina [3] | H2H: Rybakina leads 3-1
  • F: Aryna Sabalenka [2] | H2H: Swiatek leads 6-3

If Swiatek wants to win her first Australian Open title then she’s going have to be at very best from the opening round as she faces some experienced players in the opening two rounds. Former champions Sofia Kenin and Angelique Kerber are tricky opposition awaiting at the start of the tournament before 31st seed Marie Bouzkova awaits in the third round. A favourable last 16 tie against Veronika Kudermetova could await before the likes of Jelena Ostapenko, Victoria Azarenka and Marketa Vondrousova await in the quarter-finals. The in-form Elena Rybakina has landed in Swiatek’s half of the draw and will be a stern test ahead of the final for the world number one. In summary, this is a nightmare draw for Swiatek and ultimately the Pole will need to be at her sizzling best if she wants to add to her Grand Slam tally in Melbourne.

 

[2] Aryna Sabalenka

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Best Results: Champion (2023)

Sabalenka returns to the place where she won her maiden Grand Slam title in fine form but the general consensus is that the world number two isn’t the favourite heading into the next fortnight.

Sabalenka’s Path to the Final (Ranking/Seeding)

  • R1: Qualifier | H2H: N/A
  • R2: Ana Bogdan | H2H: Sabalenka leads 1-0
  • R3: Lesia Tsurenko [28] | H2H: Tied at 1-1
  • R4: Liudmila Samsonova [13] | H2H: Samsonova leads 2-1
  • QF: Ons Jabeur [6] | H2H: Sabalenka leads 4-2
  • SF: Coco Gauff [4] | H2H: Gauff leads 4-2
  • F: Iga Swiatek [1] | H2H: Swiatek leads 6-3

Sabalenka couldn’t have asked for an easier start to her title defence as the first week should be a breeze for the second seed. The same can’t be said for the second week though as Liudmila Samsonova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Donna Vekic will all fancy their chances of a fourth round upset. A relatively comfortable quarter-final could be followed by a semi-final against the in-form Coco Gauff, who Sabalenka doesn’t have the best head-to-head against. Overall, Sabalenka will need all the energy possible for the second week of the Australian Open as the second seed will do well to reach a second consecutive Australian Open final.

 

 

[3] Elena Rybakina

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Best Result: Final (2023)

Rybakina has consistently been producing her best tennis at the bigger tournaments and the Kazakh enters the Australian Open with momentum on her side having won the Brisbane title.

Rybakina’s Path to the Final (Ranking/Seeding)

  • R1: Karolina Pliskova | H2H: Rybakina leads 3-0
  • R2: Anna Blinkova | H2H: Blinkova leads 1-0
  • R3: Jasmine Paolini [26] | H2H: Tied at 1-1
  • R4: Daria Kasatkina [14] | H2H: Tied at 2-2
  • QF: Jessica Pegula [5] | H2H: Pegula leads 3-1
  • SF: Iga Swiatek [1] | H2H: Rybakina leads 3-1
  • F: Aryna Sabalenka [2] | H2H: Sabalenka leads 5-3

Rybakina has an awkward opening two rounds with Karolina Pliskova and Anna Blinkova being tough tests in different ways in the first week. The Kazakh will be determined to improve her head-to-head record against Daria Kasatkina and Jessica Pegula in the second week before taking on the two best players in the world in the final two rounds. The form suggests that Rybakina is the favourite for the Australian Open title but with all the eyes on her can Rybakina rise to the pressure or will she crumble when it matters most?

 

[4]  Coco Gauff

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Best Result: Fourth Round (2020, 2023)  

Gauff is looking to win her second consecutive Grand Slam title in Melbourne and heads into the first Grand Slam of the season in confident mood after defending her Auckland title.

Gauff’s Path to the Final

  • R1: Anna Karolina Schmiedlova | H2H: Gauff leads 2-0
  • R2: Caroline Dolehide | H2H: Gauff leads 1-0
  • R3: Leylah Fernandez [32] | H2H: First Meeting
  • R4: Caroline Garcia [16] | H2H: Tied at 2-2
  • QF: Maria Sakkari [8] | H2H: Sakkari leads 4-3
  • SF: Aryna Sabalenka [2] | H2H: Gauff leads 4-2
  • F: Iga Swiatek [1] | H2H: Swiatek leads 9-1

Gauff should cruise through the opening week but the last 16 is where it could get tricky for the American where Caroline Garcia, Naomi Osaka or Anastasia Potapova could await. A quarter-final against Maria Sakkari could be on the cards but it’s anyone’s guess as to who comes out of a wide open section of the draw. If the American can hold her nerve than a semi-final against Aryna Sabalenka is more than achievable but there is no situation where Gauff is among the favourites to win the title in Melbourne.

The 2024 Australian Open starts on the 14th of January and concludes on the 28th of January.

 

 

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