Australian Open Women's Preview: Is Serena Williams the one the beat?
1:57 | Tennis
Australian Open Women's Preview: Is Serena Williams the one the beat?
Friday January 16th, 2015's Jon Wertheim breaks down the men's seeds at the Australian Open. Read on for the dark horses, top first-round matchups and predictions, and find the men's seed report here

Top 16 seeds

Serena Williams, United States

First the bad news: her play this week was unremarkable and she hasn’t won in Australia—once her Slam of choice—in a half decade; plus she is 33. The good news: she is Serena Williams. Which is to say little of the above has much predictive value. Winner of the previous major is the player to beat yet again.

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Maria Sharapova, Russia

Especially for an A-list celebrity, it’s remarkable how quietly she goes about her business. Despite some shaky moments in 2014, she glides back into the No. 2 slot.

Simona Halep, Romania

An athletic, well-rounded, thoroughly enjoyable-to-watch player begins to try and build on her breakthrough 2014. She already started in 2015 with a title in Shenzhen.

Petra Kvitova, Czech Republic

On the ballstriking, the Wimbledon champion should always be an A-list contender, if not a favorite. But she wilts in extreme in conditions and the Australian summer might be asking too much of her constitutionally. But, she performed well and won a title on Friday in Sydney.

Ana Ivanovic, Serbia

It’s been (gulp) seven years since she reached the final. But she’s played herself back to No. 5, which is an achievement in itself. Her play (and self-belief) at majors still aren’t what they were in 2008. But it will be a disappointment if she doesn’t play up to her seeding. Look for her possible third rounder against Belinda Bencic.

Agnieszka Radwanska, Poland

If nothing else, she’ll be fun to follow, this being her first Slam under coach Martina Navratilova. There’s plenty to like about her game—and she did beat Azarenka, then the defending champ, in Melbourne in 2014—but still needs to solve the power deficit issue.

Eugenie Bouchard, Canada

Bouchard returns to the scene of her breakthrough. She has a new coach, new agent, new profile—and a lot of tumult and attention over the last few months. It will be interesting to get some geo-coding on the state of her tennis.

Novak Djokovic wins, Roger Federer loses in Australian Open draw

Caroline Wozniacki, Denmark

Apart from running a marathon, she has played top five-quality tennis over the last six months. A finalist at the previous major, this is a big opportunity to continue her upward trajectory. (Though a loss to Venus in Hobart should qualify as a minor setback.)

Angelique Kerber, Germany

The solid lefty is becoming the Ferrer of the WTA. She’s a good bet to reach the second week; a lousy bet to beat players above her.

Ekaterina Makarova, Russia

A new face in the top ten, E-Mak is a solid, middle weekend player who beat Serena in Melbourne.

Dominika Cibulkova, Slovakia

She all but disappeared since her run to the finals in 2014. If she needs motivation, her ranking will plummet if she loses early.

Power Rankings: Venus jumps into Top 10, Wawrinka steals No. 3 spot

Flavia Pennetta, Italy

She bageled Serena in her first set of the season in Perth, but her results haven’t been great otherwise.

Andrea Petkovic, Germany

A very nice bounce-back for the affable German.

Sara Errani, Italy

Indefatigable counterpuncher deserves our admiration but is always susceptible to big hitting.

Jelena Jankovic, Serbia

It’s never boring with Jankovic. But sadly, you sense the window is closing.

Lucie Safarova, Czech Republic

Not unlike former boyfriend, Tomas Berdych, she is dangerous but streaky.

Seeds 17-32

Carla Suarez Navarro, Spain

I love the backhand – less so the recent results.

Venus Williams, United States

She never had her best results in Melbourne, but her play over the last six months—punctuated by last week’s title—has been a source of optimism. Even without the draw goddesses helping her out, she is a contender in week two.

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Alize Cornet, France

Anyone that’s beaten Serena twice in one season gets tipped.

Garbine Muguruza, Spain

She’s ascending steadily. Let’s now see what she can do at a hard court major.

Elina Svitolina, Ukraine

Perhaps the best player you’ve perhaps never heard of.

Dark Horse Alley

Victoria Azarenka: It’s jarring to see this two-time champ unseeded.

Sloane Stephens: On the plus side, she is poised for a comeback.

Madison Keys: If healthy (which is unclear) she hits as big a ball as any player this side of Serena. It will be her first major under coach Davenport.

Jarmila Gajdosova: The Aussie has played inspired tennis in first two weeks of 2015.

Coco Vandeweghe: Nice mid-career surge. If the serve is on, look out.

Ajla Tomljanovic: Look for fan support for soon-to-be-Aussie.

Timea Bacsinszky: She upset world number four Petra Kvitova last week.

Sorana Cirstea: It’s a shame she’s likely to face Sharapova in round two.

New changes at Margaret Court Arena include copper retractable roof

First round matches to watch:

Stephens v. Azarenka: A repeat of 2013 semifinals—only this time both players are unseeded.

Taylor Townsend v. Wozniacki: This is a big opportunity for ascending American.

Francesca Shiavone v. Vandeweghe: This is a chance for American to beat a former Grand Slam champ.

First round upset

Timea Bacsinszky d. Jelena Jankovic

Doubles champs

Martina Hingis and Sabine Lisicki

Semifinal predictions:
Serena v. Venus
Ivanovic v. Sharapova

Final: Serena d. Sharapova

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