WTA players to watch in Adelaide

As 2021 draws to a close, it’s a good time to look forward to all of the exciting tennis action coming up in 2022, and the early weeks of the year promise some exhilarating high-quality tennis on the WTA Tour.

The first Grand Slam event of the season comes up in the middle of January but in the run-up to the Australian Open, there are five tournaments on Australian hard courts, the first of which is the Adelaide International.

This WTA 500 event is an early opportunity for some of the Tour’s top players to get into form as they work toward Melbourne Park, and is a prestigious event in its own right. This third edition of the International will be eagerly followed by tennis fans and punters alike, and keen tennis betting students are already studying the latest odds found on aggregate sites such as Bookmakers.com.

So, which players should we look out for in Adelaide? At this stage, we know which 20 players will be starting in the main draw, and the top 10 seeds. The remainder of the field will feature those successful in the qualifying rounds, and selected Wild Cards.

Ashleigh Barty

The world number one and Player of the Year for 2021 is sure to be the focus of a great deal of attention at the Adelaide International. Last year was the second time in her career that she has landed the Player of the Year award, and she has also made history by becoming only the fifth woman to end the season as number one seed for three years in a row – joining Serena Williams, Chris Evert, Steffi Graff and Martina Navratilova – although she didn’t have the chance to play much tennis in 2021.

The Australian star won the French Open in 2019 and landed the Wimbledon title last season, but a victory in her home Grand Slam event would be special. Reaching the semifinal in 2020 was as far as she has been in that tournament, but she’s clearly aiming to maximize her buildup time in 2022 by kicking off her season in Adelaide, where she won the inaugural event in 2019. She may not be at her peak here, but it will be fascinating to see what kind of form she shows.

Barbora Krejcikova

One of the standout stars of the 2021 WTA Tour, Krejcikova was named the most improved player from last year and she will be aiming to carry that momentum into the new campaign.

Prior to 2021, she had made little impact in Grand Slam events, but that changed in dramatic fashion at the French Open, when she won the title after defeating a host of high-ranked players. That win enabled her to break into the top 15 of the world rankings for the first time and she kept up that momentum throughout the year, winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics and reaching the quarterfinal of the US Open to establish herself in the top five of the WTA rankings.

This will be the first time she has played in the Adelaide International, but her strong all-court game, physical prowess and excellent tactical awareness make her a threat on any surface, and if she builds on her 2021 efforts, she could yet challenge Barty for the number one spot.

Coco Gauff

One of the most exciting young players to emerge from the USA in recent years, Coco Gauff started 2021 ranked 48 in the world, but by the end of the year, she had broken into the top 20 and reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal – at the French Open.

Although she is only 17, she has been gathering praise and plaudits for over two years, and is already one of the most precocious players on the WTA Tour. She caught the attention of the tennis world in 2019 when, at the age of 15, she famously defeated Venus Williams in the first round at Wimbledon, becoming the youngest player since 1996 to win a Grand Slam match.

Gauff has become something of a celebrity on the WTA Tour and her fresh personality and will to win are solid foundations for a player of her talent. She has the potential to become one of the greats and having already shown her abilities on a variety of surfaces, it will be interesting to see her in Adelaide, where she reached the semifinals last year, having come through the qualifiers.

Garbine Muguruza

The return to form of the one-time world number one, Garbine Muguruza, was one of the highlights of the 2021 WTA Tour and there is every chance that she can build on those efforts in 2022.

After a disappointing run, she made up for her 2020 frustrations by winning three trophies in 2021, culminating in victory in the WTA Finals, representing her most successful season ever.

It wasn’t all plain sailing. She suffered injury problems and the disappointment of just missing out on the Olympics medal round, but she ended the year ranked third in the world and if she can stay fit, she is surely capable of adding to her two Grand Slam titles.

Muguruza has not played this event in either of its two previous incarnations, but appearing in Adelaide will send a clear signal that she is aiming for Grand Slam success in the campaign to come. And although her two Grand Slams have come on clay and grass, she has previously reached the quarterfinal and the final of the Australian Open, so will be a realistic contender. Victory at Adelaide could prove to be the ideal springboard for the former world number one.

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