It’s amazing how the off-season has come and gone so quickly and the draw for the Premier event at the Brisbane International is already out. As expected, Brisbane has attracted a supreme line-up with seven of the world’s top ten deciding to come here to get their 2019 campaigns underway. Anyway, let’s take a look at the draw…
Top seeds’ profiles
 Elina Svitolina (No.4)
Svitolina is coming into the new season with renewed optimism after a stunning campaign at the WTA Finals. Once again the big question for Svitolina is if she can pass that Slam barrier, and she’ll try to achieve that by beginning her season at Brisbane again. Svitolina played stunning tennis here last year to win the title over Aliaksandra Sasnovich and thus, will have quite a lot of points to defend over Australia.
Draw projections: Svitolina could play Sasnovich again in the new year again – this time in the second round (top two seeds have byes), but the Belarusian will have to get past a qualifier first. Svitolina is projected to meet Kiki Bertens in the quarterfinals.
Brisbane win-loss record: 8-1 (2018 champion)
 Naomi Osaka (No.5)
Osaka will start the new year as the world number five and it’ll be the first signs of whether she can handle all the pressure and expectation from the media and public for the new season. Osaka’s last appearance in Brisbane was in the qualifying rounds back in 2016, so her rise up the rankings have really been absolutely stunning.
Draw projections: Osaka will play Kristina Mladenovic or a qualifier in her first match of the week, before a potential quarterfinal match-up with Anastasija Sevastova.
Brisbane win-loss record: 2-1 (2016 Q3)
 Sloane Stephens (No.6)
Stephens has barely any points to defend up till Miami so this is a huge opportunity for her to rise up the rankings. Excluding the 2013 Australian Open, Stephens has never really performed in Australia, with the medium-to-fast conditions not suiting the American’s game. Stephens ended 2018 on a high with a final run at the WTA Finals, so let’s see if she can bring the form to the upcoming season.
Draw projections: Stephens plays Johanna Konta in the first round – not an easy opponent who has the weaponry to hit through the American. The winner of that match will play either Katerina Siniakova or Alja Tomljanovic, a 2018 US Open re-match. No.5 seed Karolina Pliskova is also in this quarter.
Brisbane win-loss record: 2-2 (2012 QF)
 Petra Kvitova (No.7)
Kvitova’s usually a slow starter in tournaments (and to a new season) and after her disappointing fourth quarter of the season, expectations are not really high for Petra at the moment. In recent years, Kvitova hasn’t enjoyed too much success in Australia, but the quick Brisbane courts will likely suit the hard-hitting world No.7 so there’s always a slight glimmer of hope that Peak Petra may make an appearance.
Draw projections: Kvitova plays the erratic and hard-hitting Danielle Collins in round one – not the best ever opponent to start off your year with, as she absolutely gives you no rhythm in a match. This is a fun section of the draw as Kvitova or Collins will play Anett Kontaveit or Carla Suarez Navarro, which is a rematch of 2018’s AO fourth round match, where Carla edged the match out 8-6 in the deciding set. Kvitova is seeded to play Daria Kasatkina in the quarterfinals.
Brisbane win-loss record: 6-2 (2011 F)
 Karolina Pliskova (No.8)
Pliskova reached the semifinals in Brisbane last year and unlike her fellow Czech Kvitova, Australia has usually been a happy hunting ground for Karolina. Pliskova has decided to continue to work with Conchita Martinez and has already been spotted practicing in Brisbane. I think this will be a great partnership and sooner or later, the results definitely will come.
Draw projections: Pliskova has a potential re-match in the first round from 2017’s edition of the Brisbane International – Yulia Putintseva. It will be an interesting encounter with Pliskova’s hard-hitting up against Putintseva’s variety and dramatic antics. The winner of that match will play wildcard Samantha Stosur or a qualifier in the next round.
Brisbane win-loss record: 8-3 (2017 champion)
 Kiki Bertens (No.9)
Bertens is a huge question mark for me for 2019 – if she continues to play the way she did at the end of the season, she’s definitely going to be climbing further up the rankings, but I wonder she might feel the expectations of being a top ten player. Time will tell and we’ll see how she gets one in Australia.
Draw projections: It’s an all ‘-ertens’ match-up as Bertens takes on Elise Mertens in one of the highlights of the draw. Mertens always seems to play well in Australia, so this is definitely an upset alert. Another power player-defensive player match-up is in this section too as Donna Vekic plays the tricky Magdalena Rybarikova.
Brisbane win-loss record: 0-1 (2018 R1)
 Daria Kasatkina (No.10)
Kasatkina’s coming into the new season as the World No.10 and it’s been a little surprising how she’s been able to rise up the rankings so quickly, with her game still a work in progress. That serve really needs some improving and we’ll see how that shot, and her game gets going in Brisbane.
Draw projections: Kasatkina’s first match of the week is against wildcard Kimberley Birrell – a good draw for the Russian, though Birrell has some solid groundstrokes. If Kasatkina gets through, she’ll play Lesia Tsurenko or Mihaela Buzarnescu in the second round.
Brisbane win-loss record: 1-2 (2017 R2)
 Anastasija Sevastova (No.11)
Can’t believe Sevastova was ranked No.11 to end the year – this just shows how underrated a player she is amongst the tennis world! I always forget that she made the Premier Mandatory final in Beijing and she has really been showing that she can perform on surfaces other than clay courts.
Draw projections: Another player who is decent on both clay and hard courts, Daria Gavrilova, will be Sevastova’s first opponent of her season. That’s another highlight of this amazing draw. The winner of that match will play wildcard Priscilla Hon or a qualifier.
Brisbane win-loss record: 3-1 (2018 SF)
Tentative Final Prediction: Naomi Osaka d. Elina Svitolina
Thanks for reading! Please check out my Brisbane predictions here!