The lead up to the US Open hard court series is underway. The Istanbul cup returns for the first time since 2010 (Istanbul instead hosted the WTA Championships between 2011 and 2013). World number 15, Caroline Wozniacki is the number one seed at this year’s event and is the headline act in what is an otherwise lackluster field. After a disappointing start to the season, Caroline rebounded with a solid grass court campaign, however her Wimbledon campaign would ultimately end in a disappointing manner when she was defeated by Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in straight sets in the round of 16. The former world number 1 will have her eyes firmly set on claiming her first title of the season in Istanbul.
Apart from Wozniacki there isn’t too much to get excited about here. The remaining seeded players are Roberta Vinci, Klara Koukalova, Elina Svitolina, Magdalena Rybarikova, Kurumi Nara, Bojana Jovanovski and Karolina Pliskova. Other notable participants include: Francesca Schiavone, Belinda Bencic and Kristina Mladenovic.
The top quarter of the draw is occupied by Caroline Wozniacki who has drawn Belinda Bencic in the opening round. This is by far the most intriguing of the first the round matches, Bencic has already claimed a couple of big scalps this season (Pavlyuchenkova, Cornet and Errani) and is certainly a chance to cause an upset here. If Wozniacki gets through her tricky opening round match she is likely to face the 8th seeded Karoline Pliskova in the quarter-finals. Pliskova has troubled Wozniacki in their previous two meetings, pushing the Dane to three sets on both occasions.
Quarter-final 1 prediction: (1) Caroline Wozniacki vs. (8) Karolina Pliskova
Klara Koukalova has also drawn a promising youngster in the opening round; she will take on Donna Vekic. Klara has already beaten the Croatian twice this year, both in straight sets and both on hard courts. The winner of this match will likely face Kristina Mladenovic in the second round. The talented Frenchwoman has a good opportunity to come through this section. Bojana Jovanovski is the other seeded player in this section, the Serb claimed the biggest victory of her career a few weeks a go at Wimbledon, defeating two time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Bojana should be able to navigate her way through her opening round matches to put herself in a position to aim for her fourth career title.
Quarter-final 2 prediction: Kristina Mladenovic vs. (7) Bojana Jovanovski
The bottom half of the draw is wide open. Magdalena Rybarikova and Elina Svitolina are the seeded players in the third section. Svitolina faces Kovinic in the opening round; Kovinic is coming off a decent run in Bucharest. In what looks like the second most intriguing first round match, Tsventana Pironkova takes on Stefanie Voegele.
Quarter-final 3 Prediction: Tsventana Pironkova vs (5) Magdalena Rybarikova
The final section features the number 2 seed, Roberta Vinci as well as the 6th seed Kurumi Nara. Remarkably this section also features 4 qualifiers. Vinci is coming straight from the clay courts of Bucharest, it is hard to see her adjusting to the hard courts of Istanbul well enough to make a deep run this week. Nara continues to steadily climb up the rankings; the Japanese number 1 is my pick to come through the relatively weak bottom half of the draw.
Quarter-final 4 Prediction: (2) Roberta Vinci vs. (6) Kurumi Nara
After all the tough times Caroline has gone through in the past few months, both on and off the court it would be great to see the Dane claim her first title of the year. I think she will do it, she usually comes through these types of events victorious.
Final Prediction: (1) Caroline Wozniacki def. (6) Kurumi Nara
Leave a comment below, who do you think will win the title? 🙂