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Barty and Osaka round of 16 clash; everything you need to know about the 2022 Australian Open women’s singles draw

World No 1 Ash Barty and two-time champion Naomi Osaka are slated to meet in the fourth round at Melbourne. This and more about the women’s singles draw.

Ashleigh Barty, Adélaïde 2022 Rob Prange/Shutterstock/SIPA

The defending champion, Naomi Osaka, and the world No 1 Ashleigh Barty find themselves in a difficult section of the draw, staring at a possible round of 16 showdown in Melbourne.

Indeed, many serious outsiders for the title will try to extricate themselves from this part of the table which looks like an obstacle course. Barty and Osaka thus find themselves with, among others: Ons Jabeur, Barbora Krejcikova, Maria Sakkari, Paula Badosa, Elina Svitolina and Victoria Azarenka – all in the same popcorn section of the draw!

Barty can breathe easier than Osaka as she’s slated to open her campaign with a qualifier in the first round,; Osaka will, on the other hand, have to be wary from the first round where the Colombian Camila Osorio (20 years old, 53rd in the world), one of the revelations of the 2021 season, waits.

At the bottom of the table, if Aryna Sabalenka manages to put her game right side up after a horrible opening two weeks of 2022, she could profit from a favorable draw. Garbine Muguruza, Iga Swiatek, Simona Halep, Anett Kontaveit, Leylah Fernandez and Elena Rybakina also have a great deal to play for.

Here is all you need to know about this year’s women’s draw at the Australian Open.

Notable first-round matches

Emma Raducanu (17) v Sloane Stephens

The new British star will not have the luxury of a warm-up lap in Melbourne. Raducanu will open against the experienced Sloane Stephens, and could return to underdog mode, at least temporarily, in Melbourne. Stephens has suffered a serious drop in the rankings (68th) and her state of preparation is uncertain. But the young bride (recently married to American soccer star Jozy Altidore) remains a proven force at the Majors with a semi-final here in 2013, a final in Paris in 2018 and a title at the US Open in 2017.

Raducanu, swept (6-0, 6-1) by Rybakina in her season opener at Sydney, will have to mark her new territory from the start. As for Stephens, here she is with a tremendous opportunity to prove that she is always to be reckoned with. Between the American’s explosive forehand and the Brit’s court coverage, the duel is promising on paper.

Paula Badosa (8) v Ajla Tomlanovic

They battled in the round of 16 in Sydney, but Paula Badosa and Ajla Tomljanovic will have to cross swords again, this time in the first round of the Australian Open. The Spaniard was a sensation last season; she titled at Indian Wells and reached the quarterfinals at Roland-Garros. She also won the aforementioned Sydney duel with the Aussie (6-3, 6-4) and will remain favorite in Melbourne against her.

Attention all the same must be paid to Tomljanovic, whose powerful and aggressive game could benefit from the support of the public. It’s up to Badosa to prove that she really has hit another level in 2021: if she stays in line with her latest performances, the strength and speed of her game should gain the upper hand.

Others to look for:

  • Coco Gauff (18) v Wang Qiang
  • Ana Konjuh v Shelby Rogers
  • Barbora Krejcikova (4) v Andrea Petkovic
  • Petra Kvitova (20) v Sorana Cirstea

Matches we would like to see til the quarters

Ash Barty v Naomi Osaka – fourth round

Here is the blockbuster duel promised by the draw which should keep the tennis world eagerly looking forward during the first week. It would be a shame to be deprived of this quarter-final between the world No. 1 at home and the two-time champion of the event.

While there is little doubt that Barty will be able to make it through the fourth round – provided the pressure of Australian expectations does not derail the Wimbledon champion – there are more questions on the Osaka side. The Japanese made a very strong impression on her return to the tour, but her body again gave warning signs. If luck is on the side of tennis then we will be treated to a duel that should have long since become a classic on the circuit – it is a rivalry with enormous potential. Opposition of styles of play, opposition of personalities, stake for the domination of the circuit: the matchup would be perfect to start the season!

Sofia Kenin v Coco Gauff – third round

Neither of the Williams sisters is playing in a Grand Slam tournament for the first time since 1997. So this Australian Open draw offers a chance for the top American players to prove themselves. In addition to the expected Kenin-Keys first round match, the third round may feature a meeting between the two highest-ranked Americans, Sofia Kenin, ranked 12th, and Cori Gauff, ranked 19th. Two years after Kenin’s surprise title in Melbourne, the two players will stir up some memories as Kenin knocked out the 16-year-old Gauff in last year’s round of 16 (6-7, 6-3, 6-0), after the teenager’s shock elimination of Osaka.

Victoria Azarenka v Elina Svitolina – third round

These two experienced players and world-class talents are slated to face off in a match that has the makings of an epic week one tussle. While the new generation seems to have taken control of the circuit, seeing two-time Melbourne champion (2012, 2013) Azarenka and the feisty Svitolina still chasing her first Grand Slam title after five quarters and two semi-finals at the Slams would be worth a second week ticket.

For a third-round match, it’s a steal!

Others to hope for

Garbine Muguruza v Simona Halep: quarter-finals
Anett Kontaveit v Elena Rybakina: quarter-finals
Coco Gauff v Sofia Kenin: third round

Projected quarter-finals (if seedings go to plan)

Ash Barty (1) v Maria Sakkari (5)

Barty, in front of her home crowd, would be the big favourite of this match but Sakkari passed a milestone last season and is no doubt impatiently awaiting another chance to reach a Grand Slam final after coming so close at Roland Garros (where she squandered match points and fell to Barbora Krejcikova) last year. Barty’s patience and sense of variation in the face of Sakkari’s athletic power would make it a hell of a duel in perspective.

Barbora Krejcikova (4) v Paula Badosa (8)

Two of the great revelations of the past year! The duel would be wide open even if we remain impressed by Krejcikova’s ability to keep a cool head since her incredible title at Roland Garros. After proving themselves to be top-10 talents in 2021 Krejcikova and Badosa in the quarterfinals could use this match to confirm that they are now in the running for all the big titles.

Garbine Muguruza (3) v Anett Kontaveit (6)

Who wouldn’t want to see this remake of the WTA Finals title match? Between two players who embrace high-risk tennis, we would undoubtedly witness a great gun-slinging battle. The experience of the Grand Slam champion Muguruza would obviously make her the favourite, but watch out for Kontaveit, whose epic push at the end of the 2021 season is still on everyone’s mind. In this match, the ratio of winning shots to unforced errors over the hottest moments will undoubtedly make all the difference.

Aryna Sabalenka (2) v Iga Swiatek (7)

On paper, a blockbuster between two players capable of inflicting serious strikes on the ball. Advantage perhaps to Swiatek whose game is more complete but when Sabalenka manages to keep her nerves, she can become unplayable.

Barty’s projected path to the final

  • Round one: qualifier
  • Round two: Varvara Gracheva
  • Round three: Camila Giorgi (30)
  • Round of 16: Naomi Osaka (13)
  • Quarter-final: Maria Sakkari (5)
  • Semi-final: Paula Badosa (8)
  • Final: Aryna Sabalenka (2)

Sabalenka’s projected path to the final

  • Round one: Storm Sanders (WC)
  • Round two: Ann Li
  • Round three: Marketa Vondousova (31)
  • Round of 16: Angelique Kerber (16)
  • Quarter-final: Iga Swiatek (7)
  • Semi-final: Anett Kontaveit (6)
  • Final: Ashleigh Barty (1)
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