Serena Williams’ Nightmare 2017 Australian Open draw

The World No. 2 could have hoped for a great draw in Melbourne Park based on her ranking. However, instead Serena Williams will be put to the test right from the start.

The draw for the 2017 Australian Open came out on Friday, the first Grand Slam in years to see Serena Williams seeded anything but first. The 2nd seed’s luck certainly changed with her ranking as she picked up a nightmarish early-round draw. Williams will face the most talented non-seeded player at the Australian Open in the first round and could have a very difficult time in the 2nd round as well.

In her opening match from Melbourne Park, Williams will face Belinda Bencic. The 19 year old Swiss tennis star suffered some setbacks during 2016, but she is by no means your typical teenager on tour. Bencic has already appeared in 11 Grand Slams singles draws with a quarterfinal appearance at Flushing Meadows 2014 and a fourth-round appearance at last year’s Aussie notable highlights. Furthermore, Bencic won Toronto two seasons ago, actually beating Williams en route to the title.

A bit of good news for Williams’ fans is that Bencic might be a little off heading into the Aussie. She wasn’t her normal sharp self at the Hopman Cup earlier this month. Furthermore, Bencic had troubles in the early rounds of Sydney this week. She pulled out of the draw during her first-round match, something that brought injury concerns back into the picture. At her Twitter account she posted a video of what appeared to be a cracked toenail and claimed she did it to disperse rumors or her being seriously injured: “Sorry for posting such a disgusting thing lol. Just so people can Stop inventing knew ‘Bencic is injured again’ stories” (January 7th Tweet).

Williams may survive her first-round match, but that might just be to play Lucie Safarova. The Czech player is not even two years removed from playing Serena in the French Open final. She has certainly seen better Grand Slam seasons than the one she had in 2016, however she’s definitely a player you would prefer to avoid early in a Grand Slam tournament. Yanina Wickmayer is the other player near Serena in the women’s draw, a player that has twice made the fourth round at the Australian Open and once made the US Open semifinals.

There is a tad of draw luck with Timea Babos being seeded near Serena. The Hungarian, despite a good enough ranking to get a seed, never seems to do much in the majors. Having debuted at the 2012 French Open, Babos has just one third-round appearance to her credit in Grand Slams. If Serena Williams makes the third round she may face Babos or even a non-seeded player.

However, making the third round doesn’t appear to be a straight-forward thing. The Bencic/Williams match-up has the talent of maybe a fourth round match. Bencic, for example, is the 11th betting favorite to win the tournament outright with Bwin. It truly is bad luck for each player to draw such a tough opponent from the start. However, the bad luck is worse for Williams as she’s the one that earned a high seed for the event whereas Bencic’s ranking has fallen due to both lost matches and injury time.


Shane Lambert