WTA Tour: WTA Premier 5 Doha Preview

Tennis player stands with racquet in hand

Our tennis writer previews the Doha leg of the WTA Premier 5 set to take place between 12 February and 18 February. 

The draw for the first WTA Premier 5 is as glittering an affair as one would expect, especially impressive giving the amount of players in Fed Cup action at the weekend. Nine of the top 10 WTA ranked players are here, including defending champion Karoline Plisikova and World Number One Caroline Wozniacki. 

And with the likes of wildcard Maria Sharapova and former world number 2 Radwanksa not even amongst the seeded players, it is amazing how many crunch games there could be from day one in Doha.

Past Winners
2017: Karolina Plisikova
2016: Carla Suarez Navarro 
2015: Lucie Safarova 
2104: Simona Halep
2013: Victoria Azarenka


First Quarter
The projected quarterfinalists here are first seed Caroline Wozniacki and eighth seed Angelique Kerber. Both woman have had phenomenal starts to the year and would be ostensibly expected to progress to the quarters. But there are certainly some potential twists in the tale, with Maria Sharapova’s wildcard entry putting her on a crash course with Wozniacki in the round of 16. Sharapova opens against a qualifier before a tricky encounter against 18th ranked Magdalena Rybarikova before she is drawn to meet Wozniacki. She has a 6-4 career record against the Dane, but the last time they met was in 2015- since then one of them has certainly been on an upward curve. Kerber- if all goes to seed- would have to face Konta prior to the quarters- who has had a dreadful start to the year. The Aussie open semifinalist dismantled Sharapova in Melbourne and has a superior head-to-head record against Wozniacki. Kerber could be the one to watch as Wozniacki’s number one ranking comes under threat from Halep. 

Second Quarter
Elina Svitolina is kind of like the Alex Zverev of men’s tennis- rubbish at the majors but a force on the broader tour. She won three Premier 5 titles last season. But I bet Ostapenko wouldn’t switches those titles for her Roland Garros crown. The third seed is drawn to potentially meet Jelena Ostapenko in the quarterfinals. Svitolina has a decent draw, with Kvitova as a potential third round opponent. But Kvitova will face a tough turnaround after Fed Cup action. Ostapenko has been in poor form this season- although she did reach the final here in 2016. I fancy Julia Goerges to continue her excellent recent form and make a deep run in this quarter, potentially threatening Elina Svitolina. 

Third Quarter
Garbine Murguruza and Caroline Garcia are the projected quarterfinalists in an intriguing third quarter. Murguruza has had a stuttering start to the season that has been marred by poor form and injury. The indoor courts of Doha may not fit her this week, although the return of Conchita Martinez to her coaching staff can only be good for her. Elise Mertens lurks menacingly in her section, fresh off of winning in Hobart and making the Australian Open semifinals. The upper half of this section looks tough to call, with Garcia opening up with a potentially tough opener against either Cibulkova or Pavlyuchenkova. Kristina Mladenovic also has been resurgent of late and could be a dark horse here. 

Fourth Quarter
Karolina Plisikova and Simona Halep are the projected quarterfinalists in a blockbuster section of this event. The 2014 champion Halep enjoys a 6-2 head-to-head record against the Czech but has had some ankle doubt going into this: she also has a shot at the number one ranking should results go her way. Defending champion Karolina Plisikova had a stomach virus that prevented her from competing in the Fed Cup. Her first match is going to be tough against either Corent or Kontaveit. She then has a prospective tie against Madison Keys. If Plisikova makes it through to the quarters she will likely fall to the Romanian Halep. Halep should get either Shuai or Makarova after a first round bye. Her next match could be tricky against either Siniakova or Sevatsova. I do, however, think that Halep plays well in these conditions and could be the woman to beat this entire week. 

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.net

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