The Australian Open is here, and it’s safe to say all eyes will be on the world’s top two women.
No. 2 seed Serena Williams will be attempting to win a record seventh Australian Open title and re-claim her No. 1 spot from current top seed, Angelique Kerber. The German defeated Williams to win last year’s Australian Open, setting the precedent for a number of contenders to emerge after years of dominance by Williams. Kerber also claimed her second major victory at the U.S. Open, which officially dropped Williams from the top spot.
Now, Kerber goes from the hunter to the hunted as she enters the tournament as the top-ranked player and defending champion. Besides Williams, who else could potentially “hunt” down Kerber? We’ll find out soon enough, so let’s predict who will win the first grand slam of the year!
Make no mistake… Kerber has a tough road ahead of her. She lost to Elina Svitolina in the second round in Brisbane and suffered a first-round exit at the hands of Daria Kasastkina in Sydney. Unfortunately, a potential fourth round match against Kasatkina looms in her future, which is not good news for the top seed.
Round of 16: Daria Kasatkina  DEF. Angelique Kerber 
As for this section, defending French Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza has pretty manageable road to the Round of 16, where she could face off against fellow Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro, who has dealt with a right shoulder injury over the last couple of weeks.
Round of 16: Garbiñe Muguruza  DEF. Carla Suarez Navarro 
While Halep is the heavy favorite in this section, she could have a tough time in her first round match against Shelby Rogers. The American defeated Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova en route to the quarterfinals at the French Open last year, so she has what it takes to knock off top players. If Halep makes it out of that match, she has a potential third-round match with 2016 Rio Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig and top American Venus Williams.
Round of 16: Venus Williams  DEF. Simona Halep 
Elina Svitolina could give Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova some trouble in the third round, but in the end, this is probably the most straightforward section of the draw.
Round of 16: Svetlana Kuznetsova  DEF. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 
The hard-hitting Pliskova is the favorite among many experts to emerge and win her first major championship. Her title win in Brisbane will only add to her confidence going into the first Grand Slam of the year. Look for Australia’s Daria Gavrilova to advance to the fourth round as well.
Round of 16: Karolina Pliskova  DEF. Daria Gavrilova 
Radwanska should make the fourth round without much trouble, but it would not be wise to look ahead to a potential quarterfinal matchup against Pliskova, who she has defeated seven straight times. Expect Australian veteran Sam Stosur to shake off past demons and live up to the lofty expectations of an Australian at the Australian Open. Oh… and spoil a potentially great top five matchup in the quarterfinals.
Round of 16: Sam Stosur  DEF. Agnieszka Radwanska 
A former Australian Open finalist, Cibulkova should make the fourth round without much trouble. As for Konta, she is coming off a huge title win in Sydney, where she defeated three top-25 players, including Radwanska. Those victories should prepare her for a potentially tough road to the quarterfinals.
Round of 16: Johanna Konta  DEF. Dominika Cibulkova 
In arguably the best first round match of both the men’s and women’s draws, Williams will face off against Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic. The 19-year-old rising star was as high as No. 7 in the world last February, but injuries set her back for almost the entire year. Bencic does own a win over Williams and it’s worth noting that she defeated her in 2015, when Williams was playing arguably the best tennis of her career. This is a must-watch match, and as a result, look for Barbora Strycova to capitalize on a HUGE upset and advance to the quarterfinals.
Round of 16: Barbora Strycova  DEF. Belinda Bencic
Garbiñe Muguruza  DEF. Daria Kasatkina 
Svetlana Kuznetsova  DEF. Venus Williams 
Karolina Pliskova  DEF. Sam Stosur 
Johanna Konta  DEF. Barbora Strycova 
Garbiñe Muguruza  DEF. Svetlana Kuznetsova 
Johanna Konta  DEF. Karolina Pliskova 
Johanna Konta  DEF. Garbiñe Muguruza 
Let me know what you think in the comment section below or send me a tweet (@danny_shin131). Who do you think is going to come out on top?