The BNP Paribas Open held their WTA draw party on Monday and the following day 12 qualifiers filled in the final spots. The resulting draw holds compelling matches and interesting scenarios around every corner.
Top half of the draw
Top quarter leader: Naomi Osaka
Naomi arrives to the desert as the defending champion and world No.1. As she has discussed, the attention surrounding her success is a bit daunting. In her quarter Danielle Collins, Caroline Wozniacki, Belinda Bencic, Anastasija Sevastova, Donna Vekic, Anett Kontaveit and of course world No.5 Karolina Pliskova will present challenges to her title defense. Naomi also has Monica Puig who garners huge support in the United States, along with Kristina Mladenovic, who stunned her last month in Dubai. The outcomes are endless. Should Naomi win her quarter, her prize may be fellow Grand Slam champion and tour favorite Petra Kvitova.
Bottom quarter leader: Petra Kvitova
Two years ago a gigantic “Get well Petra” card was on display in front of the practice courts of the BNP Paribas Open. Throughout the 2017 event, fans, tennis icons and fellow players made their way over to sign and send Petra their good wishes. The in-home attack left Petra unsure of her tennis future. Present day, that chapter is closed.
Petra arrives to the BNP Paribas Open on top form with a 2019 Sydney title and runner-up finishes at the Australian Open and Dubai. The third-seeded Petra has a very powerful quarter with Venus Williams, Madison Keys, Aryna Sabalenka, fiery Maria Sakkari, Julia Goerges and Angelique Kerber. Lastly, veteran Carla Suarez Navarro is always a threat here.
Bottom half of the draw
Top quarter leader: Sloane Stephens
Sloane has found consistency not seen in her early tour years. This quarter is complicated. We have Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Garbine Muguruza, the double Elise Mertens-Kiki Bertens threat, a reinvigorated Dominika Cibulkova, the young gutsy Sachia Vickery and Amanda Anisimova. Now age 17, Amanda won her way to the round-of-16 last year in her first appearance in the desert. Meanwhile, Sachia found inspiration and endless energy to run after every ball until she was finally stopped by Osaka in the round of 32.
Bottom quarter leader: Simona Halep
Simona’s quarter is equally solid. 2018 finalist Daria Kasatkina stands out, but not in an overshadowing way. Ashleigh Barty, Jelena Ostapenko, Caroline Garcia, Aliaksandra Sasnovich and certainly 6th seed Elina Svitolina are, in a word, capable.
There is not a weak quarter to be found. While I could make assumptions that the top seeds will prevail and recite the “obvious” quarterfinals predictors, it defies logic when the field has this much potential. The WTA is in a phase of non-dominance for many reasons. At this early juncture, it seems those that will advance must take the role of aggressor, play their game and not rely on opponent’s errors. So who is riding high on confidence, who is physically intact, and ready to make a move? There are so many names that come to mind. That journey of potential and belief begins on Wednesday.
If you are attending Wednesday’s live matches, wear running shoes. There will be nine show-courts in play, beginning at 11 a.m. Pacific time. Also, remember to check the practice courts. Today, Amelie Mauresmo was seen back in action coaching compatriot Lucas Pouille. As Rennae Stubbs mentioned today at the ATP Draw Party, yes, we [women] can coach, too. These days Stubbs is part of the coaching team of Karolina Pliskova.