By Jon Wertheim
January 13, 2012's Jon Wertheim breaks down the women's seeds at the Australian Open. Read on for the top first-round matchups, dark horses and predictions. Click here for the men's report.

1. Caroline Wozniacki: She is to be commended -- not criticized -- for achieving the top spot and then holding it for more than a year. But what is there to suggest she has the game to a win a major? She's so defensive and lacking in firepower, and that's without a potentially bum wrist. At best, I'd put her fourth on the list behind Petra Kvitova, Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters.

2. Petra Kvitova: Even with a tune-up loss to Li Na, she's our pick. A win here would vault her to No. 1 and, more important, cement her status as the new Queen Bee. A real chance to make a statement: "Time to turn the field into a Petra-fied forest."

3. Victoria Azarenka: Pardon the pun, but it's gotten to be put-up-or-shut-up time. A fine, potent player with top five bona fides. But she still needs that Grand Slam breakthrough to score legitimacy points -- and put the attention on her tennis and away from her larynx.

4. Maria Sharapova: The 2008 champion has never quite received her due for repairing her game and re-entering the top five. But her serve betrays her too frequently for her to string together seven winning hard-court matches.

5. Li Na: A finalist (and show stealer) in 2011, she has since won a Grand Slam tournament -- and since taken scads of inexplicable losses. A strong start to the year, including a win over Kvitova, bodes well for the reigning French Open champion. As does a fine career track record in majors. You get a feeling the pendulum is swinging in the right direction again. All the more so if her snoring husband has his own room for the next two weeks.

6. Samantha Stosur: She's the winner of the previous major, the U.S. Open, where she turned in a true breakthrough performance. She's playing her "home Slam" and is well liked in Australia. To some, this could have a galvanizing effect. To others, it could simply be too much of a burden.

7. Vera Zvonareva: On the plus side, she has a clothing deal with Fila in place. On the other side of the ledger, she's getting squeezed out of the upper echelon. Other players are overwhelming her with force and sometimes reaping the benefits of her still shaky on-court composure.

8. Agnieszka Radwanska: A player to watch. The modest power supply hurts her, but she's such a crafty and poised player -- one who's already beaten Wozniacki in 2012. Radwanska is unlikely to win, but she's the kind of player the higher seeds don't want to touch with a 66-inch Pole. (Starts against Bethanie Mattek-Sands.)

9. Marion Bartoli: Marion the Contrarian is the seeded wild card, equally capable of deep runs and early exits.

10. Francesca Schiavone: She's such a fun and flashy and unpredictable player -- a thirtysomething who's young at heart -- that it's hard not to root for her.

11. Kim Clijsters: The defending champion has done little since, mostly on account of injury. But she's a proven winner, an adult who knows how to close out matches. And she's aware she has a finite number of opportunities left. It wouldn't be at all surprising if she defended her trophy.

12. Serena Williams: As always, the continuum is vast. The track record in Australia (five titles) speaks for itself. She benefits from the day off between matches. Like Kobe Bryant, she plays her best when gripped by controlled anger. If she keeps her composure and doesn't break down physically -- both of them substantial conditions -- she could easily win her first big-ticket item in 18 months.

13. Jelena Jankovic: She recalls a tech stock that was once hot and, while not combusting entirely, is no longer a major player in the space. Theatricality trumps practicality too often.

14. Sabine Lisicki: With Andrea Petkovic's withdrawal, Lisicki becomes the highest-seeded German. A blistering serve. Waiting for the rest of her game to catch up.

15. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: A-Pavs hasn't quite fulfilled the predictions she inspired her rookie season. But the 20-year-old is a solid top 20 player capable of springing the occasional upset.

16. Peng Shaui: The solid Chinese player has a potentially tough first-rounder against Aravane Rezai.

18. Svetlana Kuznetsova: She is way too good to be ranked this modestly. The two-time major winner is dangerous -- when she's not self-sabotaging.

19. Flavia Pennetta: Not unlike Schiavone, another fun-to-watch Italian usually good to last through the first week and win a taut three-setter in the process.

21. Ana Ivanovic: We will mention her name just to cover our bests.

24. Lucie Safarova: Her results are all over the place, but she tends to show up at the big events.

25. Kaia Kanepi: Rolling Estonia won the Brisbane International last week for her first Premier-level title.

27. Maria Kirilenko: Look for her at the net.

Bojana Jovanovski: BoJo is the best player you've never heard of. And her first opponent is ...

Casey Dellacqua: Returning from back injury, the Target-shopping Aussie won a record 30 straight ITF matches.

Madison Keys: Best of the young Americans.

Anna Chakvetadze: Nice to see the former top 10 player back in business.

Tsvetana Pironkova: Brutal results. Except at Slams, where she is lethal.

Serena Williams vs. Tamira Paszek: Serena should win. But she should also get a workout.

Gisela Dulko vs. Maria Sharapova: This is hardly the first-round formality that Sharapova hoped for.

Jelena Dokic vs Anna Chakvetadze: The back-story special.

Caroline Wozniacki vs. Anastasia Rodionova: The top seed starts against an Aussie hothead.

Alexandra Dulgheru def. Vera Zvonareva

"That temperamental Li Na loves her husband but she sure is ambivalent about the coaching relationship!"

Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond: They won the 2011 U.S. Open after beginning their partnership last April.

Semifinals: Kim Clijsters vs. total surprise (Julia Goerges?); Petra Kvitova vs. Serena Williams

Finals: Clijsters vs. Kvitova

Champion: Kvitova

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