The new WTA season begins today, with two International events and one Premier event to choose from this week.
While the Brisbane tournament is no more than a minor event for the men, the top ranked ladies begin their year with a million dollar purse on offer at the 2013 Brisbane International. It’s attracted a hugely impressive field this year, with eight of the world’s top 10 ranked players lining up to land a title that was won 12 months ago by Kaia Kanepi.
The International tournament in Auckland has Agnieszka Radwanska as its main attraction, with back up from the likes of Julia Goerges, while the event in Shenzen is where Laura Robson begins her campaign for 2013.
Similar to the men’s events, these opening tournaments of the WTA season return plenty of winning favourites, as the stats show. In last year’s Brisbane International there were 13 winning favourites from 16 first round matches and with form and fitness left a little bit to chance after the winter break, backing the short priced runners in accumulators looks the way to go in the early days of the season.
One of these is last year’s Brisbane runner-up Daniela Hantuchova, who takes a perfect 5-0 head-to-head record into her first round match against Lourdes Dominguez-Lino. These two met at the end of last season in the Spaniard’s final match of the campaign and Hantuchova won it convincingly, 7-5, 6-0. The rangy Slovak dropped just the one set against today’s opponent in those five career meetings. Daniela professes to love this part of the season in Australia and she should win this one fairly comfortably.
Another who should win is Petra Kvitova, who takes on diminutive Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro for the fifth time tonight. Kvitova’s results dropped off alarmingly at the end of 2012 after a great US hard court swing where she won 15 matches from 17. She recorded some pretty poor results in the autumn, including a loss to today’s opponent in Beijing.
I expect her to start this season as she did last, though; in Australia 12 months ago she went 11-2, including a semi-final run in Melbourne. The off-season will have rejuvenated the Czech and she should hit the ground running today.
Suarez Navarro in contrast went 1-3 in her four matches in Australia at the start of last season and recorded a 9-13 mark in total on hard courts in the 2012 season. The Hantuchova/Kvitova double pays around 1.68 and looks the best bet on day one of the new WTA season.
Back Hantuchova and Kvitova in a double at 1.68