The WTA Sydney Classic, a WTA 500 level event which features six of the world’s top ten players, begins on Monday. A Ccuple of those players will begin their 2022 campaigns in Sydney on day 1 as Anett Kontaveit and Ons Jabeur take to the courts. Meanwhile, Paula Badosa takes on Jelena Ostapenko in the highest profile matchup of the day. Who will emerge victorious? We also predict the rest of the day’s matches in a separate article.
WTA Sydney Classic Day 1 Predictions
Anett Kontaveit vs Shuai Zhang
H2H: Kontaveit 2-1
Anett Kontaveit rocketed up the WTA singles rankings in 2021, finishing at a career high of world #7. It will be interesting to see if the Estonian can continue the sensational form that she showed at the end of the 2021 season. It’s a reasonably comfortable opening round draw for Kontaveit as she takes on Shuai Zhang. There’s nothing too special about Zhang’s game now, Kontaveit should be too strong in all departments and begin her season with a routine victory.
Prediction: Kontaveit in 2
Ons Jabeur vs Astra Sharma
Ons Jabeur is one of several players who recently tested positive to COVID-19. It was unfortunate timing for the Tunisian, but luckily, she has recovered in time to start her season in Sydney. Jabeur begins her campaign against a familiar foe in the form of Astra Sharma. The pair met on two occasions in 2021, Sharma upset the Tunisian in the Charleston 250 final, winning 2-6 7-5 6-1 to capture her first and only WTA singles title. Jabeur got her revenge a few months later at Roland Garros where she won 6-2 6-4. This will be their first career meeting on a hard court.
Jabeur is rightly the comfortable favorite here. However, there are a few causes for concern, obviously she could potentially be rusty given it’s her first match of the season. It’s probably been a limited preparation for Jabeur given a recent quarantine period. I’ll still side with Jabeur, she is a class above and more comfortable on a hard court. Jabeur should be able to navigate a win even if she has a slow start or isn’t at her best.
Prediction: Jabeur in 3
Paula Badosa vs Jelena Ostapenko
Paula Badosa was dealt a brutal draw in her opening event of the season in Adelaide. The Spaniard faced Victoria Azarenka in the first round and wasn’t up for the fight on that occasion, succumbing in straight sets. Sydney becomes an important week for Badosa, as arriving at the Australian Open with a pair of early exits in the warmup events wouldn’t be ideal.
Jelena Ostapenko will be competing in her first event of the season. It’s always hard to know what to expect from the former Roland Garros champion–especially at this stage of the season where there’s no recent form to give us any indicators of how she’s playing.
Ostapenko won the only previous meeting between the pair on a hard court, a dominant 6-2 6-2 victory in St. Petersburg early last year. Badosa’s fortunes changed soon after that result, though. She’s a vastly different player now and will be a much tougher opponent for the Latvian.
Expect Badosa to be too solid on this occasion. Ostapenko will surely be rusty in her first match of the season, playing against someone of Badosa’s style and calibre isn’t a promising prospect for a rusty Ostapenko. A professional performance from Badosa will expose the rust in Ostapenko’s game and draw a heap of errors.
Prediction: Badosa in 2
Main Photo from Getty.