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WTA Doha 2019 Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Simona Halep leads a loaded Qatar Open field, featuring six of the world's top-ten players

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 11 Feb 2019
  • Qatar Open is live from Doha from 11-16 February
  • Simona Halep leads the field, which features six of the world's top-ten players
Simona Halep. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

Six of the world’s top ten players, led by world No. 3, Simona Halep are in a packed Doha field as the best players in the world battle for the Qatar Open title.

Halep is still seeking her first title of the season, having fallen in the first round in Sydney and the fourth round of the Australian Open. In fact, the former world No. 1 has not won a title since claiming the Rogers Cup in August last year. She has had her injury problems, missing the final months of last season with a back problem- can the 2014 champion get back among the titles in Doha this week?

She faces a stern challenge, led by another former champion, Karolina Pliskova, while Angelique Kerber, Elina Svitolina, Kiki Bertens and Caroline Wozniacki round up the top-ten players aiming to go all the way in the Qatari capital.

We preview an intriguing Doha draw.

First Quarter

Projected Quarter Final: Simona Halep (1) vs Ashleigh Barty (8) [Halep leads 2-1 on head-to-head]

Simona Halep gets a bye into the second round, where she opens against former top ten star, Caroline Garcia or Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko. Halep is playing her first tournament under new coach, Thierry van Cleemput, following her split with Darren Cahill at the end of last season. 

Simona Halep. (Photo by JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
The world No. 3 arrives Doha on the back of a brilliant Fed Cup weekend, where she beat Katerina Siniakova and Karolina Pliskova to propel Romania into the World Group semi-finals for the first time in the country’s history. Halep’s potential second round opponent, Garcia also enjoyed Fed Cup success at the weekend, winning her two singles rubbers to lead France past Belgium into the semis, and represents a threat to Halep’s Doha ambitions. However, the tournament’s top seed is a combined 10-1 against Garcia and Tsurenko, and will be a heavy favourite to progress into the quarter finals, where she is projected to meet Australia’s Ashleigh Barty.

A fantastic start to the season has already yielded a runner-up finish in Sydney and an Australian Open quarter final for Barty, and she will look to keep it going in Doha, where she has a tricky start against Petra Martic, and, if she gets through, plays a qualifier in the second round. Should Barty and Halep make the quarter-finals, it will be a rematch of their Sydney meeting from earlier in the season. Barty won that one 6-1 6-3, but that was Halep’s first match since recovering from her back injury. I reckon the outcome could be different this time around.

Predicted Quarter Final: Simona Halep vs Ashleigh Barty
Semi-Finalist: Simona Halep

Second Quarter

Projected Quarter Final: Elina Svitolina (4) vs Caroline Wozniacki (6) [Svitolina leads 4-1 on head-to-head]

Still seeking her first title of the season, WTA Finals champion, Elina Svitolina takes her place in the Doha field, as a wildcard, and could face fellow wildcard, Caroline Wozniacki in the quarter finals. The Ukrainian gets a bye into the second round, where she starts her tournament against either Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu or Latvian, Jelena Ostapenko. 

Elina Svitolina. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
While Buzarnescu has enjoyed a fine couple of seasons, former French Open champion, Ostapenko jumps out as a dangerous proposition, given how devastating she can be when she gets going, and the fact that she is 2-0 against Svitolina. However, the Latvian has not got going at all this year, winning just one of her five matches (outside the Fed Cup). Buzarnescu hasn’t fared any better, as she is 0-3 on the tour in 2019, and lost both of her Fed Cup rubbers over the weekend. 

If Svitolina does get past the second round, she is seeded to meet Wozniacki in the last eight. It is mildly surprising that Svitolina is 4-1 against Wozniacki, but she has obviously thrived better in the rivalry between two of the finest counter-punchers of the modern game. Wozniacki’s path to a re-match has her opening against a qualifier, while Aliaksandra Sasnovich or Su-Wei Hsieh are her possible second round opponents. After falling early in Auckland and Melbourne, the Dane is seeking her first big week of the season, but it won’t be easy, as Hsieh is always tricky, and Sasnovich, who has been playing well this year (7-3 on the tour), and is coming off another fine Fed Cup weekend.

Predicted Quarter Final: Elina Svitolina vs Aliaksandra Sasnovich
Semi-Finalist: Elina Svitolina

Third Quarter

Projected Quarter Final: Angelique Kerber (3) vs Anastasija Sevastova (7) (Kerber and Sevastova have never played each other]

Angelique Kerber is another one of the WTA’s big guns yet to make a really big run this year, having fallen to Petra Kvitova in the quarter finals of her season-opener in Sydney, and suffering a crushing 6-0 6-2 loss to an inspired Danielle Collins in the fourth round of the Australian Open. 

Angelique Kerber. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
The left-hander has a first-round bye in Doha, and could open against the big-hitting Estonian, Anett Kontaveit in the second round. World No. 20, Kontaveit, who made the quarter finals in Brisbane, must get past a qualifier in the first round. She has definitely got the ability to hit through Kerber, as she did in their two previous meetings. She won 6-4 6-0 in Rome in 2017, and led 6-0 2-0 in their most recent encounter in Stuttgart in 2018 before Kerber retired. 

Whoever gets through to the quarter finals is projected to meet Anastasija Sevastova, but the Latvian has got a very difficult draw, as she plays Julia Goerges in one of the stand-out first-round ties, and could meet former top-20 player, Barbora Strycova in the second round- if she gets that far.

Predicted Quarter Final: Angelique Kerber vs Julia Goerges
Semi-Finalist: Angelique Kerber

Fourth Quarter

Projected Quarter Final: Karolina Pliskova (2) vs Kiki Bertens (5) [Bertens leads 2-1 on head-to-head]

Former champion, Karolina Pliskova is looking to continue her fine start to the year, having already won a title in Brisbane, and made the semi-finals of the Australian Open, where she pulled off an extra-ordinary quarter final victory against Serena Williams. Pliskova trailed 1-5 in the final set against the great American, but she battled back to win the next six games, saving three match points in the process in a stunning win over Williams.

Karolina Pliskova. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)
Pliskova’s best season remains her 2017 campaign, when she claimed three titles, and reached No. 1 in the world. That year, she opened her season with a title in Brisbane, a quarter final at the Australian Open, and then another title in Doha. She has made a very similar start to 2019- can she repeat her Doha success from that season? She will have to shake off the disappointment of Fed Cup elimination with the Czech Republic very quickly, as she targets her second title of the year, and second Doha triumph. Following a first-round bye, she opens against either Elise Mertens or Katerina Siniakova; and is seeded to play Kiki Bertens in the quarter finals. 

Bertens is coming off a title-run in St. Petersburg, but she faces a tricky start against the dangerous Camila Giorgi, before a potential second round meeting with another former Doha champion, Carla Suarez Navarro or Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur. It’s a deceptively slippery route for the Dutchwoman, but she’s got momentum from St. Petersburg, and should just about get through.

Predicted Quarter Final: Karolina Pliskova vs Kiki Bertens
Semi-Finalist: Kiki Bertens

Simona Halep vs Elina Svitolina
Angelique Kerber vs Kiki Bertens

Simona Halep vs Angelique Kerber

Simona Halep

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WTA Doha 2019 Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Simona Halep leads a loaded Qatar Open field, featuring six of the world's top-ten players

Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber are among the star names set to battle for the Qatar Open title, live from Doha from 11-16 February.

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