With the first Grand Slam of the year done and dusted, the WTA Tour kicks off in earnest this week. The WTA Adelaide International features a strong field of competitors hoping to build on or make amends for their performances in the Australian Open. Ash Barty will look to defend her title, with Iga Swiatek and Belinda Bencic among those best poised to stop her. The main draw kicks off in earnest on Monday, with four matches being played alongside the remaining qualifiers. It’s been brilliant having tennis back to something resembling normality over the last few weeks in Melbourne. Adelaide should offer and equally exciting atmosphere for the players. With that in mind, we take a look at who the fans should be cheering for in our WTA Adelaide International Day 1 predictions.
WTA Adelaide International Day 1 Predictions
Anastasija Sevastova vs Caroline Garcia
Head-to-head: Sevastova 1-1 Garcia
Sevastova is quite possibly the most out of form player on the women’s tour at the moment. The Latvian has won just three matches across her last 12 tournaments dating back to January of 2020. Her current singles ranking of #53 is the lowest she has been ranked since July 2016. Sevastova is a former Grand Slam semifinalist and can play some breath-taking tennis when everything is clicking. However, she hasn’t been close to her best for some time now. Fortunately for her she faces an opponent who has similarly struggled for form over the last year or so in Caroline Garcia.
The French starlet, once tipped as a future women’s number one and Grand Slam winner by Andy Murray, has fallen way off the level that saw her reach #4 in the world in 2018. She now sits at #43, having failed to make it past the quarterfinal stage of a tournament since winning the Nature Valley Open in June of 2019. However, she showed signs of life towards the end of 2020. Garcia made the third round of the US Open last year and followed that up with a fourth round appearance at Roland Garros. Neither player has done anything worth mentioning so far this year. They also share the head-to-head spoils with one win each. Garcia has looked more impressive in recent months and seems to be finding her way back to her best tennis. Based on that alone I give her the edge in this one.
Prediction: Garcia in 3
Qiang Wang vs Olivia Gadecki
Head-to-head: First meeting
Qiang Wang comes into this match on a having won just one of her last five matches. The #1 ranked Chinese female didn’t feature on the tour for much of 2020 on account of strict travel restrictions in China. As such, the struggle for form is understandable. Wang is one of the better players on the tour when at her best. Her famous victory over Serena Williams at last year’s Australian Open is testament to that. She will certainly like her chances of grabbing her first win of the year here when she faces wildcard Olivia Gadecki.
Gadecki made headlines last week when she beat 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the second round of the Phillips Island Trophy. The 18-year old Aussie hits big from both wings and is a winners machine when she is finding her spots. However, she also has the potential to rack up unforced errors as she is still learning effective point management and patience. Gadecki was able to train with world #1 Ash Barty for two weeks as part of Barty’s preparation for the Australian Open. The young prodigy will certainly be hoping to put all she learned to good use here. Wang may be the more accomplished player, but she is short of match rhythm, form and confidence. If Gadecki is at a level similar to that she played at last week then she has a real chance here.
Prediction: Gadecki in 3
Saisai Zheng vs Danielle Collins
Head-to-head: Zheng 2-0 Collins
Saisai Zheng is another top Chinese player who was unable to play much on the tour last year as a result of her country’s travel restrictions. She has only played three matches this year, losing in the first round of the Gippsland Trophy, Australian Open and Phillips Island Trophy. Her last match before that came in February last year. As such she is desperately sort of match fitness. Zheng leads the head-to-head against Collins 2-0 and can take some comfort from that. However, there is little else in her favour heading into Monday’s matchup with the American.
Collins comes into the Adelaide International in great form after making the semifinal in the Phillips Island Trophy last week. She lost to Daria Kasatkina in three sets in that match, but played very good tennis throughout the week. Collins also made the quarterfinal of the Yarra Valley Classic warmup event in Melbourne prior to the Australian Open. The American ins in great form and has played far more matches than Zheng over the past three weeks. Her form and rhythm should be more than enough to see her claw back a win and even up the head-to-head ratio a bit in this match.
Prediction: Collins in 2
Shelby Rogers vs Veronica Kudermetova
Head-to-head: First meeting
Two in-form players meet in what should be the match of the day 1 of the WTA Adelaide International. Kudermetova made the final in Abu Dhabi to kick off her season. She followed that up with a third round appearance in the Australian Open and currently sits at a career high ranking of #36. The Russian is one of many young talents on the tour hoping to continue her rise this year. She has made a strong start to 2021, but will have her hands full in her first round match in Adelaide.
Shelby Rogers seems to have found her way to the level many thought she was capable of before injuring her knee in 2018. Last year the American made the semifinal of the Top Seed Open and the quarterfinal of the US Open. She then made the fourth round of the Australian Open this year on the back of some great tennis. As such, she will no doubt believe she can to make her way back inside the top 50 this year. Both players and in great form and will believe they should move on to the second round in Adelaide. I think Kudermetova has slightly more power off both wings and slightly more upside than Rogers. If the Russian plays to the best of her abilities she should win here, but it will be close.
Prediction: Kudermetova in 3
Main Photo from Getty.