China Open Beijing 2017 Main Draw Preview

18 of the world’s Top 20 will be descending in Beijing for the final Premier Mandatory tournament of the year. It features a super cracking draw with big names, defending champions and some interesting wildcards. I’m going to divide the draw into 16 sections to make it as readable and interesting as possible! Let’s take a look at it…

Main Draw

First section: Headlined by [1] Garbine Muguruza

Image result for garbine muguruza beijing

The streak of World No.1s not winning tournaments continue in Wuhan where Garbine Muguruza fell to Jelena Ostapenko in the quarterfinals. In fact, the last World No.1 to win a tournament came back in Wimbledon 2016 where Serena Williams defeated Angelique Kerber to win her 23rd Grand Slam title! Muguruza has had a decent two tournaments since becoming No.1, reaching the semifinals in Tokyo and quarters in Wuhan, but the losses have been pretty one-sided to Caroline Wozniacki and Ostapenko (after the first set). If she wants to continue staying at No.1 she’ll have to work hard in the place she has held the trophy before as a trio of players could overtake her for the top spot.

Draw projections: Muguruza has a tricky opener in Barbora Strycova, who trashed her by a 6-1 6-0 scoreline in Eastbourne. She would then play a qualifier or Julia Goerges in round 2, before seeded to meet US Open semifinalist CoCo Vandeweghe. Overall, a pretty tough draw for the 2015 champion considering she has suffered defeats at the hands of Strycova and Vandeweghe before.

Second quarter: Headlined by [5] Caroline Wozniacki

Image result for wozniacki beijing

If you are a new tennis fan you probably wouldn’t know that Caroline Wozniacki has actually won the China Open title back in 2010… that’s a really long time! Since then Wozniacki has had her fare share of ups and downs but she’s back at the top of the game, having reached seven finals this season already. Wozniacki has always done decent in Beijing, winning at least two matches in the Chinese capital since 2010 (with the exception of 2014), and she’ll look to try to capture the title once more to gain more form before the WTA Finals and to boost up her end-of-year ranking.

Draw projections: Wozniacki has a difficult draw to deal with too – she kicks off with the rising Wang Qiang, then Tokyo finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or Lauren Davis. She could face Petra Kvitova in round 3 (Kvitova leads head to head 6-5), but first the Czech herself has a tough opener in Kristyna Pliskova (though Kvitova has a super 39-8 record against fellow Czechs, with her last defeat coming to Lucie Hradecka).

Third quarter: Headlined by [3] Elina Svitolina

Image result for svitolina beijing

It was a strange choice for Elina Svitolina to skip the Premier 5 event in Wuhan (read HERE) but it was perhaps for the good as she has had a long but super fruitful season, winning five titles and three out of the four Premier 5 tournaments that Svitolina had played in. Svitolina is back at the place where it all started for the Ukranian, beating then World No.1 Angelique Kerber last year which continued where she reached the final in Zhuhai then the successes this year. Svitolina has a chance to become No.1 and with a deep run here I think it could be realistically possible…

Draw projections: Svitolina starts with Chinese wildcard Zhu Lin, before a possible meeting with Wuhan finalist (as of writing) Ashleigh Barty. The pair last met in Wimbledon, where Svitolina won a thrilling tight two-setter. The Ukranian is seeded to play Kristina Mladenovic, but the Frenchwoman is struggling, now on a eight-match losing streak.

Fourth quarter: Headlined by [8] Dominika Cibulkova

Image result for cibulkova beijing

It has not been the best of seasons for Dominika Cibulkova but she has seemed to find some form in Asia. Cibulkova played a fantastic tournament in Tokyo, crushing Carla Suarez Navarro and Katerina Siniakova in straights but then sustained an injury against Caroline Wozniacki in which the first two sets were played with such high quality. Cibulkova fell to Caroline Garcia in her next tournament in Wuhan which perhaps was because of the injury, but she should be healthy in time for Beijing. She really needs to gain some points before her points for the WTA Finals title last year gets removed…

Draw projections: Cibulkova could play Angelique Kerber in the round of 16 in a repeat of the 2016 WTA Finals showpiece – but it’s going to be a tough task for both players as Cibulkova plays Elise Mertens in round 1 while Kerber plays Naomi Osaka again! Two Frenchwomen, Wuhan quarterfinalist and finalist (as of writing) Alize Cornet and Caroline Garcia respectively, are also lurking in this section. It could be a really fun one…

Fifth quarter: Headlined by [6] Johanna Konta

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Johanna Konta was one of the best players on hard courts in the early parts of 2017, amassing a 19-3 record courtesy of triumphs in Sydney and Miami, but it has all suddenly gone downhill. Konta’s record on hard courts since the US swing is now 2-5, with her only wins coming in Cincinnati and she is now on a four-match losing streak. Konta is still lingering at seventh place in the Race to Singapore leader board and she really needs to gain more points to secure her place in the year-end showpiece…

Draw projections: First up for Konta will be Monica Niculescu – a player who you wouldn’t want to play if you’re low in confidence. However, Niculescu is probably low in confidence too, having not won a WTA main draw match since Washington. If she does get through this one, Peng Shuai or Shelby Rogers awaits for her. Not to mention Wuhan semifinalist Jelena Ostapenko also, Konta could have a tough time defending her finalist points…

Sixth quarter: Headlined by [4] Karolina Pliskova

Image result for pliskova beijing

It has been a super consistent year for Karolina Pliskova. Since starting the year at No.6 in the rankings, Pliskova has not slipped out of the top 5 due to great results in Brisbane, Australian Open, Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Roland Garros, Eastbourne and Cincinnati. In fact, the Czech has reached the quarterfinals in 14 out of the 17 tournaments she has played in, showing how consistent she has been all year! Pliskova took her place at the top of the rankings coming into the US Open but has since surrendered the spot to Muguruza. Trying to regain her No.1 status, Pliskova lost to Angelique Kerber and Ashleigh Barty in Tokyo and Wuhan respectively but she has another chance to get it back in Beijing.

Draw projections: Pliskova will take on Carla Suarez Navarro – an opponent she has struggled in the past, as the Spaniard leads the head to head 3-2. The first seed she could meet would be US Open champion Sloane Stephens, though the American suffered a disappointing defeat to Wang Qiang in her first match since NYC. Stephens will start off with a qualifier.

Seventh quarter: Headlined by [7] Svetlana Kuznetsova

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Svetlana Kuznetsova’s the seed in this seventh section, but it’s probably unlikely that she’ll make a deep run here as she is struggling with a left wrist injury that saw her kicked out of the US Open and Wuhan, and against Alize Cornet in the latter tournament she completely couldn’t use the two-handed backhand and had to slice every ball. Kuznetsova is obviously trying to get some points to try to get herself up the Race to Singapore leaderboard but with her condition it’s going to be difficult…

Draw projections: If she’s feeling healthy, it’s a decent draw for her to at least win a couple of rounds. She has a qualifier in round 1, then hard-hitting but erratic Natalia Vikhlyantseva or Daria Kasatkina, who just parted ways with her coach. Kuznetsova’s projected third round opponent will be defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska, who has an astounding 26-7 record in Beijing, but has been struggling with viruses all year and is in bad form. She will kick off her title defense against a qualifier.

Eighth quarter: Headlined by [2] Simona Halep

Image result for halep beijing

Simona Halep has never done well in Asia and that continued with a opening round loss to Daria Kasatkina in Wuhan. In that match, Halep’s second serve came under so much pressure that she only won 11% of points on it. Halep has spoken about trying to improve her first and second serves with her new coach Andrei Pavel and we’ll see if that has started to improve in Beijing, where it has never been the happiest of hunting grounds for the Romanian, amassing a 4-4 record…

Draw projections: Halep and Anastasija Sevastova are the seeds but there’s another player that is in the mix – Maria Sharapova. Sevastova and Sharapova will meet again since their last match at the US Open where the Latvian shocked Sharapova. Halep will face Alison Riske first, then Magdalena Rybarikova or Eugenie Bouchard in round 2. There’s a super small possibility of Sharapova-Bouchard again but considering the Canadian’s form it will almost be impossible…

Final Prediction: Karolina Pliskova d. Elina Svitolina

Please follow my Beijing predictions here and my Twitter account here 🙂 Thank you for reading!

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