MELBOURNE, Australia - The draw is out for the 2020 Australian Open, which will feature a marquee rematch in the first-round between Venus Williams and Coco Gauff, and a potential quarterfinal between defending champion Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams, who is bidding to win a record-tying 23rd major title.
For the full draw, click here.
Top Eight Seeds: No.1 Ashleigh Barty, No.2 Karolina Pliskova, No.3 Naomi Osaka, No.4 Simona Halep, No.5 Elina Svitolina, No.6 Belinda Bencic, No.7 Petra Kvitova, No.8 Serena Williams.
Top Half: Barty, Osaka, Kvitova, Serena
Bottom Half: Pliskova, Halep, Svitolina, Bencic
Projected Round of 16: Barty-Martic, Keys-Kvitova, Osaka-Kenin, Konta-Serena, Bencic-Sabalenka, Mertens-Halep, Svitolina-Bertens, Vondrousova-Pliskova.
Last year's final: Naomi Osaka d. Petra Kvitova, 7-6(1), 4-6, 6-4.
Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams, Coco Gauff, Caroline Wozniacki headline tough second quarter.
The tournament kicks off with the top half of the draw playing on Monday, which means the incredible combination of stars that have landed in the second quarter of the draw will all be tested right away.
Defending champion Osaka leads the toughest quarter of the draw and opens against Rogers Cup semifinalist Marie Bouzkova. Serena Williams also anchors this quarter, opening against talented young Russian Anastasia Potapova. The two could meet in the quarterfinals, but securing that blockbuster match-up will take some heavy lifting from both.
Osaka's section of the draw includes Venus Williams and Coco Gauff, who will face-off in the first round, and she could face a familiar foe in Sofia Kenin in the Round of 16. Osaka and Kenin locked horns in the first week of the season, with Osaka coming through 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-1 win.
Floating in Serena's section are Caroline Wozniacki, who is playing her final tournament before retiring, and an in-form Dayana Yastremska, who is now coached by Serena's former hitting partner Sascha Bajin. Wozniacki opens her final event against Kristie Ahn.
Coco Gauff's deja vu.
Coco Gauff has a number of familiar faces in her section of the draw, which kicks off with a Wimbledon rematch against Venus Williams. The two Americans will face-off for the second time in three Slams, after Gauff defeated Venus 6-4, 6-4 in the first round of Wimbledon last summer. Gauff played her first event of the season in Auckland, where she lost in the second round to Laura Siegemund, but made the semifinals in doubles with Caty McNally. Venus has not played an event since the Tianjin Open in early October. The 39-year-old American withdrew from Brisbane due to an unexpected setback in training, and from this week's event in Adelaide due to a hip injury.
Gauff could also face Osaka in the third, a rematch of their memorable third-round encounter at the US Open, which Osaka won 6-3, 6-0. The 15-year-old phenom is bidding to make the third round or better in her third straight Slam.
No.1 Ashleigh Barty and No.2 Karolina Pliskova are draw winners.
Given the depth of the current WTA field, it's a risky gambit declaring any top seed a draw winner. But with the top two seeds looking strong to start the season, they look ready to navigate their early draws. Pliskova defended her title in Brisbane with wins over Naomi Osaka and Madison Keys, while Barty has rebounded from her early Brisbane exit with a run to the semifinals in Adelaide. If Barty advances to Saturday's final, she'll have a quick turnaround in Melbourne, where she'll be on the schedule for her first-round match against Lesia Tsurenko on Monday.
On the whole, both women have favorable first-week draws that they should navigate into the second week. The first seed Barty could face is No.29 seed Elena Rybakina, a fast-rising talent from Kazakhstan who was ranked No.191 at the start of the 2019 season and finished at No.37. The 20-year-old kicked off her 2020 campaign by making the Shenzhen final (l. Alexandrova).
Alison Riske, Petra Martic, and Julia Goerges are also floating in Barty's section, with her projected quarterfinal opponent being either Petra Kvitova or Madison Keys. Since losing to Kvitova in the quarterfinals here last year, Barty has won their last three matches. She faced Keys twice in 2019 and did not lose a set. Barty is bidding to become the first Australian woman to win the Australian Open since Chris O'Neil in 1978.
Pliskova has a tricky opening draw against Kristina Mladenovic. The Frenchwoman has split her four meetings with Pliskova and this will be their first meeting on the singles court since 2017. But Mladenovic will have to find her form quickly. She lost in the second round of qualifying in Brisbane and comes into Melbourne with just two singles qualifying matches under her belt. But Mladenovic has a proven track record of being a big-match player, as evidenced by her dramatic win over Ashleigh Barty in the Fed Cup final just two months ago.
From there, the Czech could face either Laura Siegemund or CoCo Vandeweghe, with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova looming in the third round. Pliskova is 6-0 over the Russian.
Simona Halep comes up against form.
A semifinalist in 2018, the Romanian was dealt the toughest opening draw of the Top 4 seeds. Halep will face big-hitting No.49 Jennifer Brady, who comes into Melbourne brimming with confidence after a fantastic showing in Brisbane. There, Brady came through qualifying to defeat Maria Sharapova and Barty, before losing to Kvitova.
Halep could also face 2019 semifinalist Danielle Collins in the third round. Collins has been a wrecking ball through the first two weeks of the year, tallying two Top 10 wins over Elina Svitolina (Brisbane) and Belinda Bencic (Adelaide), and is set to face Barty in the Adelaide semifinals. Both players have the ability to take the racquet out of Halep's hands and, more importantly, take Halep's legs out from under her.
If Halep can take care of her first-week draw, the second week could feature match-ups that are more comfortable for her. Elise Mertens and Karolina Muchova are her projected seeded Round of 16 opponents, and waiting in the quarterfinals could be either Bencic or Aryna Sabalenka. Sabalenka knocked Halep out of the quarterfinals in Adelaide this week, but has never made it past the third round in Melbourne.
Notable First Round Matches: Madison Keys vs. Daria Kasatkina, Naomi Osaka vs. Marie Bouzkova, Venus Williams vs. Coco Gauff, Sloane Stephens vs. Zhang Shuai, Donna Vekic vs. Maria Sharapova, Iga Swiatek vs. Timea Babos, Karolina Muchova vs. Kirsten Flipkens, Yulia Putintseva vs. Hsieh Su-Wei, Simona Halep vs. Jennifer Brady, Anastasija Sevastova vs. Ajla Tomljanovic, Marketa Vondrousova vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova, Taylor Townsend vs. Jessica Pegula, Laura Siegemund vs. CoCo Vandeweghe, Karolina Pliskova vs. Kristina Mladenovic.