Top Seeds: Venus Williams, Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Svetlana Kuznetsova
Defending Champion: Venus Williams
3-10 January 2015
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – Venus Williams looks to carry on her resurgence after injuries and illness threatened to derail her career, as she bids to defend her title in Auckland at the start of the new season.
It looks as though the draw has been very generous to the defending champion, as she looks to have a clear progression through to at least the quarter-final where she could meet the feisty seventh seed Barbora Strycova.
Williams’ resurgence has been popular with fans over the past year, and many want to make the most of having this former No. 1 and great Slam champion still going, as she closed out the year finishing back in the Top 10.
Actually the second quarter looks to be rather generous too for another former Slam champion and one of the veritable characters. She was on the bad end of a poor start to last year, and has actually made it as far as the semi-finals in the past, but can be unpredictable, even in the face of a decent draw. Germany’s Mona Barthel can upset the best of them (albeit it normally back home!) and few will forget the Australian marathon between Kuznetsova and Francesca Schiavone who has a wildcard this year. CoCo Vandeweghe should wind up though as the Russian’s quarter-final opponent.
Last year’s finalist did not quite make up for her surge at the end of 2014, and might be better considering 2015 as the ‘year that got away’ as she slipped out of the Top 10 and with hefty points to defend to kick off the year, she will need a fast start.
Wozniacki admitted last year that perhaps she could not recover as fast from constant play, but still seemed to overload her schedule. With her assertion that there is no reason she can think of not to better at Wimbledon, maybe less should be more with the Dane if she wants to mix it with the contenders for the big prizes this year.
Now reunited with Nigel Sears as her coach, the Serbian will be eyeing up a return to the Top 10 having lost her grip a little on the higher echelons of the WTA. Ivanovic will need to play far more consistently this year and can look forward to emulating some of her highlights of 2015, like her run to the French Open semi-final.
Ivanovic does have fond memories of this tournament though – beating none other than Venus Williams in 2013. Ivanovic put in some early time on the IPTL, and will want to exit the Anitpodes with more than the broken toe that plagued her for a lot of the spring after the start of last season.
She felt she had ‘unfinished business’ with Sears, and a title here would be a good start for another resurgent year, but she will need to be sharp at the business end of the tournament, where she could meet Sloane Stephens at the quarter-final stage
The WTA ASB Classic in Auckland takes place between 4-9 January.
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