Super Swiatek denies Gauff to claim second Roland Garros crown

Iga Swiatek claimed her second French Open title after defeating Coco Gauff 6-1 6-3 in the final on Saturday.

The world number one became the 10th multiple female champion at Roland Garros of the Open Era as she wrapped up victory in just 68 minutes on Chatrier.

Already a champion in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart and Rome this season, Swiatek is the first player to win six successive titles on the WTA tour since Justine Henin between 2007 and 2008.

The 21-year-old also extended her winning streak to a record-equalling 35 matches, while becoming the youngest multiple Slam winner since a then 19-year-old Maria Sharapova doubled her career tally at the 2006 US Open.

This was the youngest female final at Roland Garros since Martina Hingis and Iva Majoli contested the 1997 Championship match.

But the nerves were evident in maiden Slam finalist Gauff, who was the sixth American of the Open Era to reach the final in the French capital without dropping a set.

The unforced errors quickly tallied up for the 18-year-old and the in-form Swiatek, who had won 54 of her previous 56 sets, took full advantage.

An early double-break saw the Pole quickly stamp her authority on proceedings as she opened up a 4-0 lead, before holding to wrap up the opening set in just 35 minutes.

Gauff responded well with a break and hold at the start of the second, but her third double fault of the final enabled her opponent to break back and level at 2-2.

It was very much one-way traffic from there; Swiatek making it five consecutive games as she moved to the brink of a second title in Paris.

Gauff stopped the rot and held for 5-3, but she only delayed the inevitable momentarily. Her opponent required no second opportunity to add to her ever-growing silverware collection.

Iga Swiatek returns to the French Open final where she will face teenage sensation Cori Gauff at Roland Garros on Saturday.

Swiatek has extended her remarkable winning streak to 34 matches after defeating Daria Kasatkina in the Semi-Finals in straight sets. It was the fourth time this year that the Pole has dispatched Kasatkina and has done so in a dominant manner, winning the match 6-2, 6-1.

Swiatek has dominated the season so far with five titles, while going undefeated since February when she last suffered a loss at the hands of Jelena Ostapenko.

Swiatek’s record in the finals is just as unbelievable as she has only lost one out of 16 played. In addition, she has never lost a set or more than five games in each of her eight tour-level title runs.

Gauff, meanwhile, has not dropped a single set at Roland Garros over the past fortnight, including a comfortable 6-3, 6-1 victory over Italy’s Martina Trevisan in the Semi-Finals.

Following her victory over Trevisan, Gauff became the youngest woman to make a Grand Slam final since 2004 Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova.

The worrying news is that Gauff has never beaten a world number one in a completed match and she is now facing an opponent who is playing the tennis of her life.

Gauff may be the rank underdog in this matchup, but we expect her to test Swiatek, so our prediction is Over 18.5 Games at odds of 3/4 with Bet365.

Swiatek v Gauff is available to watch via a live stream on desktop, mobile or tablet devices from approximately 2pm BST.

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Iga Swiatek will play Coco Gauff in the French Open final following a commanding 6-2 6-1 victory over Daria Kasatkina on Thursday.

The world number one extended her winning streak to 34 matches after taking just over an hour to see off the 20th seed on Chatrier.

Swiatek – a five-time WTA winner in 2022 – became the first player to reach six or more finals during the opening six months of a WTA season since Serena Williams in 2013.

The 21-year-old is also the youngest female player to win 20 matches at Roland Garros since Martina Hingis 23 years ago.

Despite an early double-fault and seeing a break immediately cancelled out, Swiatek quickly took control against Kasatkina, who was appearing in her maiden semi-final at a Grand Slam having reeled off 10 successive sets without reply.

The top seed won 10 from 12 points on her first serve, while her opponent registered 15 unforced errors as she pulled away from 2-2 and broke to love to take the opening set.

The Pole only dropped one more game thereon as the pressure on the 20th seed began to tell. Indeed, she won 20 of the last 23 points to reach yet another final.

Standing in her way will be Gauff, who also saw off Martina Trevisan in straight sets 6-3 6-1.

The 18-year-old became the third-youngest female finalist at a Slam since 2000 – and youngest at Roland Garros since Kim Clijsters (2001).

Junior champion here in 2018, Gauff had lost her previous meeting with world number 59 Trevisan, who was also appearing in her first Slam semi-final.

But the teenager ensured there was no repeat of that second-round reverse from 2020.

After both players saw their service broken twice in the opening six games, Gauff established her authority on proceedings; winning nine of the last 10 to cruise through to the Championship match without dropping a single set.

WATCH DAY 13 OF THE FRENCH OPEN STREAMED LIVE HERE (18+)

Cori Gauff will be looking to reach her first Grand Slam final when she meets Martina Trevisan in the Semi-Finals of the 2022 French Open on Thursday.

Trevisan is currently on a ten-match winning streak on clay courts. Prior to the start of the French Open 2022, the Italian did well to win the title in WTA Rabat following a comfortable 6-2, 6-1 victory over Claire Liu in the final.

Trevisan hasn’t dropped a single set in her opening four matches at the French Open but she was really tested by Leylah Fernandez in the quarterfinals. Luckily, Martina benefited from Leylah’s lingering foot issue and won the tie in three sets.

She now has an amazing chance to become the third left-handed female player to reach a French Open final in 30 years.

Gauff’s record in the Semi-Finals is two wins and four defeats. She has only played one Semi-Final this season, losing out to Madison Keys in the Adelaide 250.

Gauff has had a route path to the Last Four, having beaten the likes of Marino, Van Uytvanck, Kanepi, Mertens and Stephens in straight sets.

The 18-year-old has won the junior title at Roland Garros four years ago, but she has never reached a Grand Slam final on the tour level.

However, she is now one win away to become only the second under-19 female player to reach a French Open final in the past 22 years.

Our prediction for this clash is Over 19.5 Games at odds of 4/5 with Bet365.

Trevisan v Gauff is available to watch via a live stream on desktop, mobile or tablet devices from approximately 3.30pm BST.

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Two of the most exciting young stars in women’s tennis collide at the 2021 Cincinnati Masters on Wednesday as Naomi Osaka takes on Coco Gauff.

With a combined age of just 40, the talented pair are in the early stages of what could prove to be an era-defining rivalry in the coming years.

The build-up to the match has been dominated by Osaka’s off-court issues, with the world number two breaking down in tears on Monday in her first press conference since the controversy over her refusal to speak to media at the French Open.

Osaka pulled out of Roland Garros shortly after and also missed Wimbledon in order to take a break from tennis to focus on her mental health.

She returned to compete at the Olympic Games on home soil in Tokyo, where she lit the flame at the opening ceremony before going on to lose in the Third Round.

The reigning Australian Open champion and four-time Grand Slam singles winner has been short of match action in contrast to many of her rivals in recent months, but will be keen to get back to business and let her tennis do the talking in the build-up to the US Open.

She faces a tough opening test against world number 24 Gauff – quarter-finalist in this year’s French Open and a winner of the WTA Parma this season.

The 17-year-old sensation defeated Hsieh Su-wei 6-1, 6-2 earlier in the week and has experience of beating Osaka in a major event, having done so at the 2020 Australian Open.

With Gauff in superb form this season and Osaka beginning to regain her sharpness on court, we expect a close-run contest in Cincinnati and are opting for over 21.5 total games to be played.

Gauff v Osaka is available to watch via a live stream on desktop, mobile or tablet devices from approximately 4.30pm BST.

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Serena Williams could face Coco Gauff at the Western & Southern Open while top US Open contenders warm up in New York.

We break down the women’s singles draw, analyse the contenders and predict the semifinalists and champion as Serena Williams, Karolina Pliskova and Sofia Kenin lead the field at the Western & Southern Open.

WTA Western & Southern Open Preview

Relocated from Cincinnati to New York, the Western & Southern Open marks the first big tennis event to be played since the sport shut down in early March – and the only opportunity for many of the top players to compete and tune up their games ahead of the forthcoming US Open.

A prestigious Premier-5 event, the Western & Southern Open is taking place at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre, home of the US Open, and using its Grandstand Court as centre court.

A significant number of WTA top-10 players based outside the USA bowed out, but the field remains immensely strong. Top four seeds Serena Williams, Karolina Pliskova, Sofia Kenin and Naomi Osaka are joined by Petra Kvitova, Coco Gauff, Venus Williams, Kim Clijsters and defending champion Madison Keys among others. With the WTA’s usual depth exacerbated by the fact that most players have competed little if at all in the past six months, we should expect upsets from the beginning.

WTA Lexington Draw Analysis

Top Quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Karolina Pliskova (1) vs Aryna Sabalenka (5)
World no. 3 Pliskova is the only WTA top-10 player based outside of the USA to be playing Cincinnati-New York, and for good reason – some of the best results of her career have come on American hard courts, including her maiden Grand Slam final appearance at the US Open in 2016 and the Western & Southern Open title the same year.

Karolina Pliskova won the Western & Southern Open in 2016 (PA Images)

Playing for the first time since Doha, the Brisbane champion starts against hard-hitting Ajla Tomljanovic, whom she has won five straight matches against, or Veronika Kudermetova, a more dangerous opponent who has had a quietly superb past 18 months before the shutdown. She could meet Elise Mertens, runner-up on clay in Prague last week, in the third round; former US Open semifinalist Anastasija Sevastova, who leads their head-to-head 2-1, is also in this section, but Sevastova is 1-7 in 2020 (before and after the hiatus).

Doha champion Sabalenka lost a tight second-round match with Coco Gauff in Lexington, and is a player to watch this week and next. She’ll open against a qualifier, but must face the winner of a packed mini-section in the third round: 11th seed Alison Riske taking on 2019 French Open semifinalist Amanda Anisimova, with the winner likely to face very in-form Lexington champion Jennifer Brady (Brady was supposed to face wildcard Kim Clijsters, who withdrew).

Predicted semifinalist: Brady (20/1 to win the tournament with Unibet)

Second Quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Naomi Osaka (4) vs Petra Kvitova (6)
With neither Osaka nor Kvitova exactly a model for consistency and both women playing their first tournament since before shutdown, this seems like a recipe for a ‘surprise’ semifinalist.

Osaka could start off against last year’s Wimbledon quarterfinalist Karolina Muchova, who is not a model of consistency herself and who might not find these courts the best fit for her attacking game, although she’s beaten Garbine Muguruza at the US Open before.

Venus Williams debuted a remodelled service action in Lexington (PA Images)

Venus Williams meets Dayana Yastremska in an intriguing first-round clash – Williams looked in great form in Lexington where she narrowly lost to Serena, while Yastremska was a quarterfinalist in Palermo on her return from shutdown. The winner will likely face American lefty Bernarda Pera, who showed the benefits of playing World Team Tennis during the hiatus when she pushed Serena Williams hard in Lexington; nevertheless, the winner of Venus-Yastremska should make the quarterfinals.

Kvitova could be in for an all-Czech clash with Marie Bouzkova, who has not long broken into the top 50 after an excellent year or so of results and was a quarterfinalist in Lexington. Match sharpness could see Bouzkova upset Kvitova; the unpredictable Danielle Collins is also in this quarter, but Anett Kontaveit – a quarterfinalist at the Australian Open in January, and runner-up in Palermo two weeks ago – is the player to watch in this section.

Predicted semifinalist: Kontaveit (33/1 @ 888Sport to win the tournament)

Third quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Johanna Konta (8) vs Serena Williams (3)
Serena Williams looked brilliant in a victory over her elder sister in Lexington – then fell in the next round to Shelby Rogers, showing it’s still very difficult to know what to expect from Serena from one day to the next.

Coco Gauff could face Serena Williams in the third round (PA Images)

The six-time US Open champion isn’t going to push herself too hard the week before the US Open, but after opening against a qualifier or Alison van Uytvanck, she could face an intriguing third-round encounter with Coco Gauff. The 16-year-old looked great when she made the semifinals in Lexington, and is capable of beating Maria Sakkari and Yulia Putintseva to make a clash with Serena.

Johanna Konta and Marketa Vondrousova both lost their only matches since shutdown in Lexington and Palermo respectively; Konta didn’t look good at the Battle of the Brits, either. Poland’s Magda Linette could possibly take advantage, but this would be a good section for a qualifier to make a run.

Predicted semifinalist: Gauff (33/1 @ Unibet to win the tournament)

Fourth quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Madison Keys (7) vs Sofia Kenin (2)
Defending champion Keys will be tested from the beginning as she plays her first match since the Australian Open (!) against either a qualifier or, more likely, the unorthodox Ons Jabeur, who warmed up with a quarterfinal run in Lexington.

Polish teenager Iga Swiatek is in this section, but the first-round match to watch is the clash between Elena Rybakina – who made four finals already in 2020 but hasn’t played since February – and Ekaterina Alexandrova, who beat Rybakina in the Shenzhen final and was also having a great 2020 season before the shutdown (1-2 since). Rybakina is the more promising player but will greater match practice in recent weeks benefit Alexandrova?

Sofia Kenin’s last tournament saw her win the title in Lyon (PA Images)

Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin will be taking the court for the first time since winning Lyon on indoor hard courts in February, but the American’s counterpunching game should help her ease back into competition and she doesn’t have the worst draw: A first-round bye followed by either tenacious veteran Alize Cornet or wildcard Caty McNally. In the third round, she would face either Donna Vekic, last seen losing to the world no. 156 in Palermo; the slumping Victoria Azarenka; Sloane Stephens, who’s lost her last two matches to the same Canadian teenager; or Caroline Garcia, playing for the first time since February.

Semifinalist: Kenin (6/1 @ 888Sport to win the tournament)

WTA Cincinnati-New York Prediction

Semifinals: Anett Kontaveit d. Jennifer Brady
Coco Gauff d. Sofia Kenin

Final: Gauff d. Kontaveit

Teenage superstar in the making Coco Gauff looks to secure a place in the second WTA semifinal of her career as she faces Arab trailblazer Ons Jabeur in Lexington.

Coco Gauff vs Ons Jabeur | WTA Lexington QF | 13/8/2020
Coco Gauff to win
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2-1
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Gauff vs Jabeur is live from Lexington on Friday 14 August at 4pm local/9pm BST

Sixteen-year-old sensation Coco Gauff is aiming to reach her first WTA Tour semifinal on home soil as the WTA restart event in Lexington, Kentucky heads towards the weekend in triumphant style.

WTA Lexington: Tournament information, schedules and live streams for the Top Seed Open

After ousting second seed Aryna Sabalenka in a lengthy contest, Gauff takes aim at eighth seed Ons Jabeur, the unconventional trailblazer who made a historic run to the Australian Open quarterfinals in January.

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Gauff vs Jabeur live

Top Seed Open matches including Gauff vs Jabeur are streamed live alongside odds and in-play betting at bet365.

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Gauff vs Jabeur: Head-to-head

This will be the first meeting between Gauff and Jabeur.

Gauff vs Jabeur: Preview

Gauff’s absence from competition has been even longer than most – she has not played since losing in the fourth round of the Australian Open in January to eventual champion Sofia Kenin – but the 16-year-old has been just as impressive on her return to WTA Tour tennis as she was before the hiatus, recording wins over Caroline Dolehide and Aryna Sabalenka to make the quarterfinals in Lexington.

That’s not to say that there hasn’t been rust evident for Gauff. She served well but struggled with some other aspects of her game in a 7-5, 7-5 victory over Dolehide; against world no. 11 Sabalenka, the reverse was the case with Gauff’s serve probably the weakest part of her performance.

It was, overall, an incredibly impressive performance. Second-seeded Sabalenka was playing fantastic tennis before the shutdown, winning the Qatar Total Open in Doha, and she brought her full arsenal of blistering power off both wings to the clash, complete with patches of wild unforced errors. The Belarusian was the first to break in the clash before Gauff broke back and led 5-2, only for Sabalenka to reel off five games and serve for the set at 6-5. The swings of momentum in the match were primarily attributable to Sabalenka’s game going on and off the boil, but Gauff really impressed with the way she handled those swings, and continued to deliver on the key moments: Sabalenka’s unforced errors were mainly responsible for the 5-0 lead to which Gauff jumped out in the tie-break, but then the Belarusian played much better tennis and threatened to get back on level terms, only for Gauff to pull out some tremendous tennis to close out the set, showcasing an impressive turn of speed to chase down Sabalenka’s short ball for the winner.

Eight double faults from Gauff (for just two aces) was not what the young American wanted, but she saved 9 of the 16 break points she faced compared to 5 of 12 saved by Sabalenka, and when the third set began with a frustrating exchange of breaks she continued to impress with her resilience.

Ons Jabeur made a historic quarterfinal at the Australian Open in January (PA Images)

She’ll need the same quality against Ons Jabeur. The Tunisian has been a connoisseur’s choice for some years now, but since her run to the Moscow final at the end of 2018, Jabeur has been showing that her unconventional brand of tennis can be as effective as it is watchable. In 2019, she made semifinals in Eastbourne and Tianjin, and reached the third round of the US Open; and at the Australian Open in January, she made history as the first Arab woman to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam as she defeated Caroline Wozniacki, Johanna Konta and Wang Qiang before eventually falling to Sofia Kenin.

Before the shutdown, Jabeur snapped a six-match losing streak to top-10 players when she beat Karolina Pliskova in Doha, and despite obvious and to-be-expected rust, she has been playing well in Lexington. A 6-2, 6-4 victory over Caty McNally was followed by an impressive comeback from a set down against match-tough qualifier Olga Govortsova in the second round, the eighth seed shaking off a frustrating, low-energy first set to win 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

The anticipation and footspeed Gauff showed in chasing down Sabalenka’s short balls will stand her in good stead against Jabeur, but as much as anything, it’s Gauff’s propensity to elicit errors from her opponent that give her the advantage in this one. Jabeur will likely hit a hot streak at some point and take a set, but Gauff should be able to outsteady the Tunisian to make her second WTA Tour career semifinal in Lexington.

Gauff vs Jabeur: Prediction

Coco Gauff vs Ons Jabeur | WTA Lexington QF | 13/8/2020
Coco Gauff to win
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2-1
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The match of the day at the Top Seed Open in Lexington on Wednesday sees world no. 11 Aryna Sabalenka facing off with 16-year-old superstar-in-waiting Coco Gauff for a place in the quarterfinals.

Aryna Sabalenka vs Coco Gauff | WTA Lexington R2 | 12/8/2020 7pm BST
Aryna Sabalenka vs Coco Gauff
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Gauff to win
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Sabalenka vs Gauff is live from Lexington on Wednesday 12 August at 2pm local/7pm BST

Top WTA stars are returning to action this week after the best part of six months out of competition, with top-20 players like world no. 11 Sabalenka highlighting Internationals in Prague and Lexington, Kentucky.

WTA Lexington: Tournament information, schedules and live streams for the Top Seed Open

The first WTA tournament to be played in the USA since March, the new Top Seed Open is headlined by the Williams sisters, Aryna Sabalenka and Coco Gauff – which of these stars will lead the way into the quarterfinals on Wednesday?

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Sabalenka vs Gauff live

Top Seed Open matches including Aryna Sabalenka vs Coco Gauff are streamed live alongside odds and in-play betting at bet365.

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Sabalenka vs Gauff: Head-to-head

This is the first meeting between Aryna Sabalenka and Coco Gauff.

Coco Gauff, at just 16, has a 2-3 record vs WTA top-20 players (AAP Image/Michael Dodge)

Sabalenka vs Gauff: Preview

From famine to feast: After the best part of six months without any meaningful tennis, the inaugural Top Seed Open is providing popcorn matches a-plenty. The first WTA tournament to be played on US soil since early March, the Lexington event will see the Williams sisters face off on Thursday – but Sabalenka taking on Gauff is more than just a curtain-raiser for that superstar clash.

It was on American hard courts that Sabalenka truly ignited during her sensational 51-25 2018 season, with a semifinal showing in Cincinnati followed by claiming the New Haven title and reaching the last 16 of the US Open, where she was the only player to take a set from eventual champion Naomi Osaka. The Belarusian’s 39-22 2019 season was widely seen as a letdown in comparison, but she still picked up titles in Shenzhen, Wuhan and Zhuhai and finished runner-up in San Jose.

Sabalenka made a bright start to 2020, too, with a semifinal run in Adelaide followed by picking her sixth WTA career title in Doha in February. After six months off court, the world no. 11 extended her winning streak to six matches with a 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-2 victory over Madison Brengle – a tenacious counterpuncher. Sabalenka made her life a little harder than it needed to be – she came back from 0-4 down in the second set and served for the match only to lose it in a tie-break – but the way she regrouped in the decider boded well.

WTA Lexington draw preview and predictions: Who will rule the bottom half of the draw?

How will the second seed cope with the challenge of Coco Gauff? Still just 16, Gauff did not play much during the lockdown (although her memorable and stirring speech during a Black Lives Matter protest attracted attention for all the right reasons) and was out of competition for even longer than most – she last played at the Australian Open in January, where she knocked out defending champion Naomi Osaka before losing to eventual winner Sofia Kenin.

Up against compatriot Caroline Dolehide in the first round, Gauff did well to win 7-5, 7-5 given her lack of match practice and the fact that her opponent had the advantage of playing her way through qualifying, although it was a somewhat scrappy performance. Superb serving made the difference for the American teenager, and it could be the crucial factor when she faces Sabalenka, as well.

Gauff is 2-3 vs top-10 players and if you leave out her one-sided defeat to Osaka at the US Open last year, when Gauff was somewhat crippled by nerves, the players who have beaten her are cast in more of a counterpunching mould. In contrast, Gauff has excelled against Osaka, Venus Williams, Kiki Bertens – big servers and big hitters who rely on explosive power to end short points. Young as she is, Gauff has a more rounded game which, when married with her big serve, is a fairly lethal combination – and she can keep the tactics a lot simpler against these types of powerhouse players.

Sabalenka falls neatly into this mould, which inclines one to think that Gauff might well add another impressive scalp to her collection in Lexington on Wednesday – and lead the way into the quarterfinals.

Sabalenka vs Gauff: Prediction

Aryna Sabalenka vs Coco Gauff | WTA Lexington R2 | 12/8/2020 7pm BST
Aryna Sabalenka vs Coco Gauff
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Gauff to win
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Serena Williams returns to competition as the top seed for the new Lexington, Kentucky tournament, the first WTA Tour event to be held in the USA since March.

We break down the women’s singles draw, analyse the contenders and predict the semifinalists and champion as the Williams sisters and Aryna Sabalenka lead the field at the Top Seed Open.

WTA Lexington Preview

Officially known as the Top Seed Open presented by Bluegrass Orthopaedics, WTA Lexington is a new International-level event played for the first time in 2020. An outdoor hard-court tournament in Lexington, Kentucky, the Top Seed Open is the first WTA tournament to be played on hard courts or in the USA since the first week of March.

It has attracted an enviable field led by 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, who is playing for the first time since early February as she warms up for the US Open. But Williams has more than ring-rust to contend with – the world no. 9 could face sister Venus or long-time rival Victoria Azarenka as early as the second round. Things aren’t easy for second seed Aryna Sabalenka either – the world no. 11 could run into Coco Gauff in the second round. And upsets are definitely to be expected, after five months out of competition during what would normally be the height of the season.

WTA Lexington: Tournament information, latest news, schedules and live streams to watch Top Seed Open matches

WTA Lexington Draw Analysis

Top Half

All eyes will be on the packed top quarter of the draw which contains both Williams sisters, Azarenka and 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens.

Serena, whose last match was a narrow defeat to Anastasija Sevastova during a Fed Cup tie in early February, opens against compatriot Bernarda Pera who has a 1-3 record vs top-10 players. If she wins that, she faces a fellow former world no. 1: Either Azarenka, who has only played one match in the last year, or more likely sister Venus in what would be their 30th clash. Serena leads the head-to-head with Venus 17-12 and has won four of their last five matches.

Stephens has played World Team Tennis during the shutdown and should therefore be less rusty than most, but was 1-5 in WTA matches in 2020. Powerful Shelby Rogers, who is currently ranked outside the top 100 but climbing fast after returning from a lengthy injury break in April 2019, could be the biggest threat to the seventh seed.

Another first-round clash to watch is the meeting of fourth seed Amanda Anisimova and Catherine Bellis. Anisimova, 18, won her first WTA title and made the French Open semifinals last year, and should be able to handle Bellis, a former teenage phenom just coming back from severe wrist and elbow injuries. Watch out though for the steady Jessica Pegula, Washington champion last year and Anisimova’s probable second-round opponent; and for Jil Teichmann, who won two WTA Tour titles in 2019 although is more of a clay-courter. It might be fifth seed Yulia Putintseva, a steely competitor who performs well on US hard courts, who comes through.

Predicted semifinal: Serena Williams vs Yulia Putintseva

Coco Gauff plays her first tournament since the Australian Open in Lexington this week (AAP Image/Michael Dodge)

Bottom Half

Definitely lacking the star power of the top half, the lower half of the Top Seed Open draw nevertheless contains some top players and key names to watch ahead of the US Open.

World no. 11 Aryna Sabalenka comes in on a five-match winning streak, having claimed the Doha title in February, but the Belarusian powerhouse hasn’t been seen much during the shutdown – and she has a deceptively tricky first-round opponent in Madison Brengle. The American counterpuncher has a history of shock wins over error-prone power hitters like Sabalenka. The winner of that one faces Coco Gauff in the second round, playing for the first time since the Australian Open, so it might be too hard a road for Sabalenka.

Gauff in fact has a decent route to the semifinals, with the unpredictable eighth seed Ons Jabeur the other seed in that quarter. In the third quarter, both seeds – Magda Linette (6) and Johanna Konta (3) – look at risk of first-round upsets at the hands of Lauren Davis and Marie Bouzkova respectively, while powerful Jennifer Brady and Anna Blinkova lurk.

Predicted semifinal: Coco Gauff vs Jennifer Brady

WTA Lexington Prediction

Semifinals: Serena Williams d. Amanda Anisimvoa
Coco Gauff d. Jennifer Brady

Final: Serena Williams d. Coco Gauff