Simona Halep could face Serena Williams as early as in the fourth round of the 2019 Australian Open after the draw was released earlier today.
Halep starts her Australian Open campaign with an opening round match against Kaia Kanepi, in what will be a rematch of her opening round match at the US Open. Kanepi had stunned Halep in straight sets in that match.
She could face Sofia Kenin in the second round while Mihaela Buzarnescua, the 25th seed could be in with a chance to face her in round three before the big match against Serena.
Serena will herself have to get past Tatjana Maria and possibly Eugenie Bouchard in her first two rounds before meeting Carla Suarez Navarro, the 23rd seed in round three.
Interestingly, this quarter also has Karolina Pliskova, who is seeded seventh and Garbine Muguruza, the 18th seed and both could meet in the fourth round before taking on the winner of the Halep-Serena encounter if things go to plan.
Second seed Angelique Kerber has it easier as she faces Polona Hercog with her first seeded opponent expected to be Donna Vekic in round three. Her fourth round opponent could be Caroline Garcia or Julia Goerges before she faces the fifth Sloane Stephens in her quarter-final.
Kiki Bertens is the other player to watch out in this quarter of the draw.
Defending champion and third seeded Caroline Wozniacki starts out against Alison van Uytvanck but her eyes will be on her third opponent – Maria Sharapova, seeded 30th could potentially take on the Dane at that stage.
Also in this quarter of the draw is Aryna Sabalenka, seeded 11th and in line to face Petra Kvitova, the eighth seed in their fourth round match.
US Open winner and the fourth seeded Naomi Osaka starts off against Magda Linette, with Su-Wei Hsieh being the first seeded player in her path in round three. However, previous Victoria Azarenka, who is unseeded in this competition, could also challenge her for a place in the fourth round where she could face Anastasija Sevastova.
Elina Svitolina, seeded sixth is in the same quarter but before she can make it through to face Osaka in her quarter-finals, she will need to get past Dominika Cibulkova in round three and Elise Mertens in the fourth round.
Some of the interesting first round matches to watch out at this year’s women’s singles are:
Simona Halep v Kaia Kanepi
Mihaela Buzarenescu v Venus Williams
Daria Kasatkina v Timea Bacsinszky
Johanna Konta v Alja Tomljanovic
Sloane Stephens v Taylor Townsend
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova v Monica Puig
Dominika Cibulkova v Shuai Zhang
Petra Kvitova v Magdalena Rybarikova
Jelena Ostapenko v Maria Sakkari
Potential Path to the Women’s Australian Open Final:
1st Round: Kanepi
2nd Round: Kenin/Qualifer
3rd Round: Venus/Buzarnescu
4th Round: Suarez Navarro/Serena
1st Round: Maria
2nd Round: Bouchard/Peng
3rd Round: Suarez Navarro
4th Round: Halep
1st Round: van Utyvanck
2nd Round: Larsson/Lapko
3rd Round: Sharapova
4th Round: Barty/Ostapenko
QF: Sabalenka, Tsurenko/Strycova/Kvitova
1st Round: Hercog
2nd Round: Pera/Qualifier
3rd Round: Vekic
4th Round: Garcia/Goerges
1st Round: Linette
2nd Round: Zindansek/Gavrilova
3rd Round: Hsieh
4th Round: Wang/Sevastova
Potential Quarter-Final Line-up (by seeds):
Simona Halep v Karolina Pliskova
Naomi Osaka v Elina Svitolina
Angelique Kerber v Sloane Stephens
Caroline Wozniacki v Petra Kvitova