The eventful Middle East swing has come to a closure with the No.1 seed Elina Svitolina producing a sublime performance against Daria Kasatkina to defend her Dubai title. Before the big Premier Mandatory tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami, we head to the Mexican capital in Acapulco for an International event. It may be a small tiered event, but there are a couple of huge names at the tournament. By the way, this is also the first anniversary of the blog! I hope to create more informative WTA posts and I hope you’ll enjoy reading the blog for the next few years to come! Let’s take a look at the Acapulco draw…
Top seeds’ profiles
 Sloane Stephens (No.13)
Player profile: After winning her first Grand Slam title at the US Open last year, Sloane Stephens has endured a typical post-Slam lull, and unfortunately her losing streak has been extended to eight matches. Her most recent loss came at the Australian Open to Zhang Shuai, where she was up a set and a break, playing some brilliant attacking tennis, before she lost her way from then on. Her level in Australia was promising and a match win for Stephens seems very likely with a comfortable draw in Acapulco.
Draw projections: The 2016 champion here starts off against Pauline Parmentier, a player who has lost her last six of seven matches. The winner of this match will play Kayla Day or a qualifier, with her projected quarterfinal opponent being Tatjana Maria.
Acapulco win-loss record: 5-1 (2016 champion)
 Kristina Mladenovic (No.14)
Player profile: Kristina Mladenovic continues her comeback with another tournament participation and this time, she’s in the Mexican capital, playing for the eighth straight week. In fact, she has participated in every week of the season so far! (Brisbane, Sydney, Australian Open, St.Petersburg, Fed Cup, Doha, Dubai, Acapulco) After a great two weeks in St.Petersburg and Fed Cup, Mladenovic struggled with injury/illness in the Middle East, and will look to get back some momentum ahead of the Sunshine Double.
Draw projections: Mladenovic kicks off her campaign with a qualifier and possibly Heather Watson in the second round which would be a repeat match up from this exact place and exact round. They played an epic then, with Mladenovic triumphing 7-6(4) 6-7(5) 7-5. Her likely quarterfinal opponent will be Lesia Tsurenko in another Acapulco repeat, from last year’s final.
Acapulco win-loss record: 4-2 (2017 F)
 Daria Gavrilova (No.26)
Player profile: Daria Gavrilova clinched a late wildcard into the tournament and this is definitely a wise choice, as she hasn’t played since Fed Cup, opting out to skip the events in Doha and Dubai. Gavrilova has had a pretty muted season thus far – she fell in the second round at the Australian Open to Elise Mertens, and suffered extremely disappointing defeats in Fed Cup to No.187 Marta Kostyuk and unranked Nadiia Kichenok. Gavrilova will look to get some matches as the No.3 seeded wildcard before the big touraments soon.
Draw projections: Gavrilova’s first three opponents would likely be Madison Brengle, Kristyna Pliskova and Irina-Camelia Begu/Christina McHale. Seems like a comfortable draw for Gavrilova unless she has a terrible week.
Acapulco win-loss record: First appearance
 Zhang Shuai (No.33)
Player profile: Zhang Shuai is another player who has endured a rough start to the year. In six tournaments, Zhang has only won five matches, with a second round appearance at the Australian Open (beating Stephens enroute) and a quarterfinal in last week’s Budapest Open her best results thus far. Zhang has found it tough to find her rhythm in recent matches and will need some good wins in Acapulco to get back on track.
Draw projections: All four qualifiers have been drawn into Zhang’s quarter and the only non-qualifiers she could face are Jill Teichmann in the second round, and Alize Cornet in the quarters, who is still under investigation by the ITF.
Acapulco win-loss record: 3-1 (2014 SF)
 Lesia Tsurenko
Player profile: The defending champion, Lesia Tsurenko will find it tough to defend her trophy this week due to her difficult draw (see below) and her lack of form this season. Tsurenko has only won five matches in five events in 2018, and her usual solid style has gone awry at the moment due to the fact that she is trying to add more aggression to her game. We’ll see if she can get back to her usual consistent form in Acapulco.
Draw projections: Tsurenko has found her draw tough with Lauren Davis her first round opponent, who pushed then-World No.1 Simona Halep to the maximum in a titanic three-set effort. Kateryna Kozlova looms next, who reached the final in Taipei a few weeks ago.
Acapulco win-loss record: 10-3 (2017 champion)
Final Prediction: Kristina Mladenovic d. Sloane Stephens
There will be no predictions for this week due to the huge time difference between Acapulco and my country. See you next week!