Elina Svitolina leads the field at the Monterrey Open, with multiple Grand Slam champions, Venus Williams, Kim Clijsters and Victoria Azarenka also featuring at the WTA International tournament. The WTA Monterrey Open is live from 2-8 March, 2020.
Svitolina is bidding for her first title in over a year; Clijsters is continuing her return to the tour following a seven-year absence; Sloane Stephens is yet to win a match in 2020, while Victoria Azarenka is competing in her first tournament of the season. There is an intriguing story everywhere you look in Monterrey, setting up what should be a cracking week in the Mexican city.
We now do a quarter-by-quarter analyses of the draw, and make our predictions!
Projected Quarter Final: Elina Svitolina (1) vs Sloane Stephens (5)
When Elina Svitolina won the 2018 WTA Finals, not many would have predicted that the Ukrainian would still be searching for her next title over a year after that tremendous week in Singapore. Svitolina had become such an expert at winning WTA titles, having claimed five in 2017 and four in 2018, but that skill deserted her in 2019, as she made just one final throughout the season, at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen.
The Ukrainian arrives Monterrey on a three-match losing streak, having suffered consecutive opening round exits in Dubai and Doha, on the back of a surprising straight-sets loss to Nao Hibino in the quarter finals in Hua Hin. Svitolina also lost in the opening round of her season-opener in Brisbane, and could only reach the third round at the Australian Open. She has not got going at all this year and can do with a big week in Monterrey.
The top seed starts against Danka Kovinic in the first round, and will face a qualifier in the second round- if she avoids a fourth opening round exit of the season.
Former US Open champion, Sloane Stephens is Svitolina’s projected quarter final opponent, but the American has had a terrible start to the season, losing all four matches she has played. She has been completely out of sorts, falling to unheralded opponents like Liudmila Samsonova in Brisbane, Arina Rodionova in Adelaide, and Renata Zarazua in Acapulco. She was also beaten by Shuai Zhang at the Australian Open.
Surely that winless run will end against teenage compatriot, Emma Navarro in the first round in Monterrey? Navarro’s only previous tour-level main draw match was a 7-5 6-4 loss to Laura Siegemund in Charleston last year…
If Stephens does survive, she will face either Lauren Davis or Leylah Fernandez in the second round. 17-year-old Canadian, Fernandez is coming off a superb runner-up finish in Acapulco, where she was edged out by Heather Watson in her first career final. Fernandez can go one of two ways in Monterrey. She can bring in all of that momentum from Acapulco and produce another big run, or she could have a hangover from an emotionally draining week and fall early in Monterrey.
Predicted Quarter Final: Elina Svitolina vs Lauren Davis
Semi-Finalist: Elina Svitolina (10/3 to win the title @ William Hill)
Projected Quarter Final: Magda Linette (4) vs Rebecca Peterson (6)
Bidding for her second title of the season, fourth seed, Magda Linette leads the second quarter in Monterrey. The Pole claimed her maiden career title in Hua Hin in February, but she has won just one match this year outside that title run. Her only other win in 2020 was against Svetlana Kuznetsova in Hobart, while she has suffered first round exits in Shenzhen, the Australian Open and Doha.
Linette starts her campaign against a qualifier, and could face Dutchwoman, Arantxa Rus in the second round. Rus has won just the one tour-level main draw match this season, but it was against Linette in the first round of the Australian Open. The left-hander has been in decent form at ITF level, reaching the final at the W60 meet in Andrezieux-Boutheon, and the semis at the W60 tournament in Cairo. If she can get through a qualifier in the first round in Monterrey, she will like her chances of taking down Linette for a second time this season- should that match happen.
On the other side of this quarter is Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson. Peterson compiled a fine end to 2019, winning titles in Nanchang and Tianjin, but she is yet to win a match this year, exiting in the opening round in Auckland, Hobart and the Australian Open. Peterson was forced to retire from her first round in Hobart because of a back injury, and has not played since the Australian Open.
She’s back in action in Monterrey where she opens against Kateryna Kozlova, and if she gets through, the sixth seed will take on Sara Sorribes Tormo or Kateryna Bondarenko in the second round. Of all the players in this section, only Bondarenko has won multiple WTA matches this year. The 33-year-old Ukrainian was a quarter finalist in Shenzhen, and made the second round in last week’s tournament in Acapulco, where she fell to eventual champion, Heather Watson.
Predicted Quarter Final: Arantxa Rus vs Kateryna Bondarenko
Semi-Finalist: Kateryna Bondarenko (50/1 to win the title @PaddyPower)
Predicted Quarter Final: Yafan Wang (8) vs Marie Bouzkova (9)
Yafan Wang and Marie Bouzkova may be the highest-ranked players in this quarter, but the stand-out name in the mix is seven-time major champion, Venus Williams, who is seeking her first win of 2020 in Monterrey. Venus has played just two tournaments this year- the Australian Open and Acapulco- both ending in first round defeats against Cori Gauff and Kaja Juvan respectively.
The great American starts her Monterrey campaign against a qualifier, and could face either Zarina Diyas or Bouzkova in the second round. 21-year-old Bouzkova notably reached the semi-finals in Toronto last season- the highest point of a campaign during which she rose broke into the top-60- but she is 0-4 in tour-level matches in 2020. That said, she has had some difficult draws, falling to Madison Keys in Brisbane and Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open.
She will be looking to get off the mark when she faces Diyas in her Monterrey opener. Diyas has made a quarter final in Shenzhen and a third round at the Australian Open this season, but the Kazakh hasn’t featured on the tour since Melbourne.
Whoever comes through that Venus-Bouzkova-Diyas axis is projected to meet Yafan Wang in the quarter finals, but Wang arrives Acapulco on a five-match losing streak, and has not won on the tour since beating Sara Sorribes Tormo in her first match of the season in Shenzhen. Her latest defeat was against Xiyu Wang in Acapulco, where she was defending champion. Wang will attempt to snap that losing streak when she faces a qualifier in the first round, while Nina Stojanovic, or another qualifier, is her potential second round opponent.
There are so many out-of-form players in this quarter of the draw, which creates an opportunity for the very experienced Venus Williams to finally get something going this season.
Projected Quarter Final: Venus Williams vs Yafan Wang
Semi-Finalist: Venus Williams (18/1 to win the title @PaddyPower)
Projected Quarter Final: Johanna Konta (2) vs Victoria Azarenka (7)
The fourth quarter is definitely the most exciting of the lot, as it houses Grand Slam champions, Victoria Azarenka and Kim Clijsters, former champion, Heather Watson, and former top-five star, Johanna Konta.
There’s some intriguing story behind everyone here. Second seed, Konta is the highest-ranked player in this quarter, but the Brit is yet to win a match this year, having lost first-round matches in Brisbane, the Australian Open and St. Petersburg. Perhaps we shouldn’t really be surprised by Konta’s early struggles this season, considering that she missed the concluding part of 2019 due to a knee injury. The 28-year-old had been in the midst of a very good period, reaching the semi-finals at Roland Garros, and consecutive Slam quarter finals at Wimbledon and the US Open to return to the brink of the top-ten, but she was unfortunately forced to end her season after Flushing Meadows due to a knee injury.
While Konta attempts to win her first match since last year’s US Open in Monterrey, her first round opponent, Kim Clijsters will be seeking her first win since the 2012 US Open! Clijsters retired from the sport for a second time following a second round loss to Laura Robson in 2012, but the 36-year-old announced last year that she would be returning to professional tennis in 2020. After a minor injury setback, Clijsters made her comeback in Dubai last month, and looked sharp enough in a 6-2 7-6 loss to Garbine Muguruza in her comeback match. She’s definitely in with a great shot of getting that first win of her third coming when she faces Konta in the first round in Monterrey.
Whoever gets through that match will take on either Heather Watson or Tatjana Maria in the second round, Watson was champion in Monterrey in 2016, and arrives in good form, after claiming her fourth career title, and her first in almost four years, in Acapulco last week. However, she did it the hard way, needing a trio of three setters, and a couple of lengthy two-setters to get over the line. Fatigue could be a factor for the Brit in Monterrey.
The other half of this quarter is led by two-time Grand Slam champion, Victoria Azarenka, who is playing her first tournament since last year’s US Open. Azarenka was a finalist in Monterrey last year, but the Belarusian was forced to retire hurt in the second set, while she trailed Garbine Muguruza 6-1 3-1. The Belarusian had several injury problems last season, and did not play again after a first round loss to Aryna Sabalenka at the US Open.
The former world No. 1 then pulled out of the 2020 Australian Open for unspecified reasons, with reports suggesting that the custody battle for her son, which had kept her away from the tour for long periods between 2017 and 2018 might have resurfaced. The 30-year-old is finally set to start off her season in Monterrey, where she opens against Tamara Zidansek. If she gets through the first round, she could square off against either Russian young gun, Anastasia Potapova, a quarter finalist in St. Petersburg and Acapulco.
Predicted Quarter Final: Kim Clijsters vs Anastasia Potapova
Semi-Finalist: Kim Clijsters (16/1 to win the title @William Hill)
Elina Svitolina vs Kateryna Bondarenko
Venus Williams vs Kim Clijsters
Elina Svitolina vs Kim Clijsters