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AO Women's Predictions

With the release of the 2017 Australian Open draw yesterday, the tennis world will be spending the weekend mulling over the implications of where the seeds and dark horses of the event have landed. To help navigate these discussions, the Game Insight Group is breaking down the probabilities of the likely outcomes of the tournament, round by round.

My previous post released GIG predictions for the men’s draw. In this post, we focus on the women’s event. As with the men’s predictions, these forecasts are based on women’s Elo ratings, which take into account a player’s results, the difficulty of their opponents, and the recency of their results. We also make an adjustment for players, like Serena Williams and Sara Errani who cut their 2016 seasons short, which results in more bearish forecasts. Although we don’t account for intangibles like player confidence or fitness, we do update ratings as the event progresses and the approach has worked well historically.

Let’s start with our favorites for the title…

Top Contenders

The breakdown of the top 10 women with the highest chances at the title shows that it’s going to be an exciting year for tennis. The success of new Major winners, Angelique Kerber and Garbine Muguruza, and the rising threat of players like Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina makes for more depth at the top of the game than we have seen in recent years.

With a 35% chance at the title, Serena Williams is at the top of the contender rankings. That forecast is an intimidating one but if we put it into the context of the 2016 Australian Open, where Williams had a 52% chance of the title and Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka were the number 2 and 3 favorites for the title, we appreciate how much has happened in a year.

Six of the top 10 prospects for the title have yet to win a Major title. Together, they suggest around a 1 and 3 chance that we will see a new slam champion on the women’s podium this year.

First Quarter

If we look at the specific matches for the first round in the defending Champion’s quarter, we see that Kerber could face a test in her first match. Kerber has a had a rocky start to the 2016 season, with a second round exit in Brisbane to Elina Svitolina and a first round exit in Sydney by Darya Kasatkina. When she meets 61-ranked Lesia Tsurenko, Kerber will have to put those matches behind her. Perhaps the prospect of a rematch with Kasatkina will give her extra motivation to close out her 84% chance.

Some matches we expect to be very close calls in this quarter are Irina Camelia Begu and Yaroslava Shvedova, Roberta Vinci and Coco Vandeweghe, Christina Mchale and Kristina Kucova; all matches where the win predictions of both competitors are within 10%.

Eugenie Bouchard and Garbine Muguruza both have favorable odds of advancing to the second round, but there is really no outcome in this group that is a statistical certainty.

Second Quarter

The first round matches in No. 4 seed Simona Halep’s quarter are more lopsided in general. In fact, Halep has the second easiest match statistically among the top 4 seeds (second slightly to Serena Williams’ first match). However, that 10% chance for American Shelby Rogers could be deceptive. I saw Rogers dispatch Petra Kvitova at the 2016 French Open in her quarterfinal run there. She also had a strong showing at Hobart to start out the year. So this could be one for an upset alert.

Two Aussie hopefuls, Ash Barty and youngster Destanee Aiava, landed in Halep’s quarter. With Aiava drawing a qualifier, Barty will have the tougher task of the two when she takes on Annika Beck.

But if you are looking for some real nail biters, you will want to checkout Kiki Bertens ve Varvara Lepchenko and Jelena Jankovic vs Laura Siegemund, where it could be anyone’s win.

Third Quarter

Aga Radwanska must be nervous about the prospect of a quarterfinal match with Karolina Pliskova, though many fans will be hoping for it. Hard-hitting Pliskova has the best chances at the title after the top 4 seeds, and her recent title win in Brisbane could only add to her confidence going into the AO. Both Pliskova and Radwanska have good chances of making it to the next round without much trouble but it will be interesting to see what those matches tell us about their form.

Some tough contests we expect for the first round in this quarter are the Yulia Putintseva and Lara Arruabarrena, Ana Konjuh and Kristina Mladenovic, and Magda Linette and Mandy Minella; all of which have nearly even odds.

Two of Australia’s strongest players, Sam Stosur and Dasha Gavrilova, will also be fighting their way thru this quarter to get to the second week. Stosur will have the tougher first round in drawing Heather Watson and will need to shake off a number of demons to live up to expectations there.

Fourth Quarter

Like Simona Halep, Serena Williams’ first round match could be trickier than the probabilities suggest. Williams will face Belinda Bencic, who is coming off her Hopman Cup appearance with Roger Federer. Bencic has a 1 of 2 record against Williams, which could give her a boost despite her odds (if the toe injury is healed, that is). It’s an unlucky draw for Bencic but will still be a match to watch.

What could be some tough contests in this quarter? Dominika Cibulkova could have a test when she faces Denisa Allertova. Even less certain call are Sara Errani’s match with Risa Ozaki, Kateryna Bondarenko and Caroline Garcia, and Yanina Wickmayer versus Lucie Safarova. If the odds to go in Safarova’s favor, that could set up a second round match against Serena Williams. Safarova has a devastating record against Williams and might already be looking forward to a chance to turn the tables.

AO Tournament Predictions Per Round

Below are the per round predictions where you can find the chances of an exit in each round of the event thru to the title win. GIG will be updating these forecasts on this site as rounds complete.

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