Well, this is a hell of a thing. I find myself playing Anya to the editrix’s Giles, and I mean that in a wholly specific season 6 sort of way. And in fact I always thought that they should have slept together in season 6, so … this metaphor has now ended up in a totally different place to where it began. So. Let’s look at the women’s qualifying draw – because the editor won’t. For he is a massive SEXIST!!!

But I am not. In fact, some days I think I prefer women’s tennis to men’s tennis, and that’s borne out by my totally geeky thrillgasm in looking at this beautiful draw. Ninety-six ladies, twelve main draw spots up for grabs. It’s on.


It’s hard to say that any part of this draw is easy, but honestly, this might be the most loaded quarter. Top seed Coco Vanderweghe has never qualified for a Slam and is traditionally vulnerable to more experienced players. Usually the player to watch in this eighth would be Sesil Karatantcheva, formerly of Bulgaria, but Karatantcheva has failed to make it through qualifying in the last three Slams and doesn’t have a great record in Australia. This could be Vanderweghe’s moment; otherwise I look to Olga Savchuk.

British no. 2 Anne Keothavong is still working her way back from injury and doesn’t have the easiest draw, facing Kustova of Belarus in the first round followed by a probable second round against Ioana Raluca Olaru, a player with a very pretty game, while Tatjana Malek awaits in the third. Still, I have faith in Keo and her smile made of sunshine.

Go ahead, punk, make her day.

A Pliskova sister and Yung-Jan Chan lurk in the bottom quarter, but make no mistake, the qualifier will be the winner of the first round clash between Sabine Lisicki and Michaella Kraijcek (yes, that Kraijcek). These two ladies are friends and both train at the Bolletieri Academy, and neither is a stranger to a career ravaged by injury, but I’d put my money on my Licky. As a former Wimbledon quarterfinalist, she’s a class above her current ranking and worked some of the kinks from her enforced absence in 2010 out in Auckland recently. She’ll be in the main draw when Sunday rolls around.

Move, bitch, get out of her way.


Now here’s a quarter which is tough to predict, containing as it does a number of players who can do anything or nothing depending on their mood and the phases of the moon, and a number of players about whom I know actually nothing. Where do they find these people? Fourth seed Zuzana Kucova has a promising name, but I say Luxembourg’s finest, Mandy Minella, should double-bagel Great Britain’s Katie O’Brien and go from strength to strength, as Brit-beaters are wont to do.

Anastasia Yakimova is usually a good bet, but she has to contend with Stephanie Dubois and a possible meeting with Severine Beltrame. A couple of random Australians and Vitalia Diatchenko – bless her – don’t pose much of a threat, but the wildcard in this section is Sania Mirza. I recently watched her lose in the final round of qualifying to Lisicki, and formed the same conclusion that almost any Mirza match leaves me with; if she ever learns to keep her forehand inside the court more than, say, 40% of the time, she’ll be a solid pick. That  hasn’t quite happened yet, though, and her fitness doesn’t look superb to me. Yakimova to qualify from this group.

Truly funky headband notwithstanding.

And at the bottom, finally an easy segment to call. Ekaterina Bychkova may have the name, Oksana Kalashnikova may … also have the name, but Masa Zec Peskiric saunters through this draw.

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