BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - The first WTA draw of the 2018 season is in the books at the Brisbane International, which features No.2 Garbiñe Muguruza and No.4 Karolina Pliskova as the top two seeds. Nine of the tour's Top 20 feature in the draw, including Johanna Konta, Petra Kvitova, Ashleigh Barty, Elina Svitolina, Caroline Garcia, and Madison Keys.
See the full draw here.
Top 8 seeds: No.1 Garbiñe Muguruza, No.2 Karolina Pliskova, No.3 Elina Svitolina, No.4 Caroline Garcia, No.5 Johanna Konta, No.6 Kristina Mladenovic, No.7 Anastasia Sevastova, No.8 Ashleigh Barty.
Top half: Muguruza, Sevastova, Garcia, Mladenovic.
Bottom half: Pliskova, Konta, Svitolina, Barty.
Projected quarterfinals: Muguruza-Sevastova, Garcia-Mladenovic, Konta-Svitolina, Barty-Pliskova.
Last year's final: Karolina Pliskova d. Alizé Cornet, 6-0, 6-3.
Muguruza aims to go one better in Brisbane and retake No.1.
The Battle for No.1 resumes in Week 1 of the 2018 season, as Muguruza can overtake No.1 Simona Halep, who is playing the Shenzhen Open. To do so, Muguruza must make at least the final, and may have to win the title outright if Halep goes deep in China. Read all the No.1 scenarios here.
A semifinalist here last year, Muguruza has a bye into the second and will open her season against either the powerful Carina Witthoeft or the crafty Aleksandra Krunic. She could face Sevastova in the quarterfinals before playing the winner of the "Group of Death" (more on that below), which could be either Caroline Garcia, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Petra Kvitova, Anett Kontaveit, or Kristina Mladenovic.
Garcia leads the French Quarter.
The second quarter of the draw is undoubtedly the toughest one on paper. No.8 Garcia is the top seed in that quarter and she'll open against her countrywoman and last year's runner-up Alizé Cornet. The winner faces either Australian Open semifinalist Mirjana Lucic-Baroni or Tatjana Maria. The bottom section of that quarter will be a battle between Kristina Mladenovic, who is looking to get her first win since Wimbledon last year, and two big hitters in Petra Kvitova and Anett Kontaveit.
Ashleigh Barty back on home soil.
Barty was ranked just inside the Top 300 when she played her home event here last year, earning a win and taking Angelique Kerber to three sets. A year on and she's the top-ranked Australian at No.17 and playing under a heavier weight of expectation. She gets things underway against Lesia Tsurenko in the first round and could face Pliskova in the quarterfinals. A potential popcorn match against Daria Kasatkina could come in the second round.
Konta and Keys clash in the first round.
The highlight match of the first round features No.9 Johanna Konta vs. No.19 Madison Keys. This will be just the second time these two have faced on the tour level and the first time since the 2016 China Open, where Konta edged out a 7-6(1),4-6, 6-4 win in the semifinals. The winner faces the winner of the All-Aussie Wildcard derby between Ajla Tomljanovic and Destanee Aiava.
First round matches to watch: Johanna Konta vs. Madison Keys, Caroline Garcia vs. Alizé Cornet, Petra Kvitova vs. Anett Kontaveit, Anastasija Sevastova vs. Sam Stosur, Elina Svitolina vs. Carla Suárez Navarro.
Main draw play begins on Sunday. Subscribe to WTA TV to stream all the action