MELBOURNE, Australia -- The Melbourne Summer Series is officially underway as draws were set for the first two WTA events of the Australian summer, the Yarra Valley Classic and the Gippsland Trophy.
This pair of WTA 500 events will begin on Sunday, January 31, and will be played concurrently at Melbourne Park through Saturday, February 6. Each of these two events features 54 singles players in the main draws, as well as 28 doubles teams. The Top 10 seeds in the singles draws of these events receive first-round byes.
Main Draws singles for the Gippsland Trophy and Yarra Valley Classic.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) January 29, 2021
Main Draw begins Sunday AEDT. pic.twitter.com/sRpwVFjHH3
The YARRA VALLEY CLASSIC has homeland heroine and World No.1 Ashleigh Barty at the top of the draw as the No.1 seed, with reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin of the United States placed at the bottom of the draw as the No.2 seed.
Seven-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams of the United States will also be a factor in this tournament's field.
Barty is projected to face No.7 seed Petra Martic of Croatia in the Yarra Valley Classic quarterfinals, with Australian legend Samantha Stosur also lurking in the top quarter.
A blockbuster quarterfinal matchup between two former World No.1 players, No.5 seed Serena Williams and No.3 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, could take place in the top half of the draw, with the winner to potentially face Barty in the semifinals.
In the bottom half of the draw, an all-Czech, all-left-handed quarterfinal could take place between No.4 seed Petra Kvitova and No.8 seed Marketa Vondrousova. Former World No.1 Venus Williams of the United States is looming in this third quarter of the draw, and the American legend will meet Kvitova in the second round if she can defeat Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands in the first round.
In the Yarra Valley Classic's bottom-most quarter, Kenin and No.6 seed Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain might face off in a quarterfinal rematch of last year's Australian Open final. No.11 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, who has reached the quarterfinals in three of the last four Australian Opens, could face Muguruza in the round of 16.
The GIPPSLAND TROPHY is led by World No.2 Simona Halep of Romania as the top seed, with reigning US Open champion Naomi Osaka of Japan seeded second at the bottom of the draw.
Halep could face No.6 seed Iga Swiatek of Poland in this event's quarterfinals, which would be an eye-opening rematch were it to occur. The pair most recently faced off in the round of 16 at last year's Roland Garros, where Swiatek shocked Halep en route to her first Grand Slam title in Paris.
The top half of the Gippsland Trophy draw stays challenging, as the second quarter is led by No.4 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, who carries a 15-match winning streak into the event and won the 2021 season's first title in Abu Dhabi. Sabalenka is projected to face No.8 seed Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals.
In the bottom half of the draw, a possible quarterfinal is brewing between No.3 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine and No.7 seed Elise Mertens of Belgium. A host of former Top 10 players are also in this quarter, including Jelena Ostapenko, Caroline Garcia, Sara Errani, and Andrea Petkovic. Ostapenko and Errani will square off in the first round.
In the final quarter of the Gippsland Trophy draw, Osaka could meet No.5 seed Johanna Konta of Great Britain in the quarterfinals. No.14 seed Coco Gauff of the United States is a potential round-of-16 opponent for Osaka; the Japanese star beat Gauff at the 2019 US Open before the American teen leveled their head-to-head with a win at the 2020 Australian Open.
7 years ago today I made my Top 10 debut. 346 weeks later I’m still there 😝— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) January 28, 2021
What a wild, beautiful journey it has been, feeling very proud of this streak and excited for what’s ahead 🙃 pic.twitter.com/RvD8UzGMc4
Additionally, a third WTA 500 event of the week, the Grampians Trophy, will take place from Wednesday, February 3 through Sunday, February 7, also at Melbourne Park. The Grampians Trophy draw will take place on Monday, February 1.
The 28-player Grampians Trophy will be contested among the players who were subject to hard quarantine upon their arrival in Australia, with the later start date allowing for additional preparation time. The top seed will be 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, who will play her first tour event since the 2019 Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen.
Among the other names playing at the singles-only Grampians Trophy are former Australian Open champions Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber, former US Open champions Sloane Stephens and Svetlana Kuznetsova, and Top 20 players Belinda Bencic and Elena Rybakina.