Simona Halep Picks Up the Easy Quarter at 2017 Australian Open

Simona Halep really has to like her quarter at Melbourne Park.

The 2017 Australian Open tennis draw for women’s singles was released on Friday from Melbourne Park. The players now know about their first-round match-ups and who they share a draw with to the various stages of the singles event. Simona Halep of Romania is one player that definitely has to like the quarter of the draw that she’s been placed in.

Halep is the four seed at Melbourne Park and as such she’s guaranteed to avoid anyone ranked higher than her all the way to the semifinals. However, Halep didn’t pick up any dangerous floaters in the tournament as she will face Shelby Rogers in the first round. Rogers is a very inconsistent player, but even if the American is playing her best then Halep’s best is much higher. The closest seed to Halep in the draw is just Monica Puig. Puig is the Olympic champion, but she’s also a player that has not done anything significant since Rio.

Two players that might seem to loom large in Halep’s quarter are both Venus Williams and Svetlana Kuznetsova. Each player is a multi-time Grand Slam champion, however they are both over 30 years old now with Venus closer to 40. A full 14 years ago Williams made the final at Melbourne Park after a semifinal appearance in 2002, however other than that the two veterans have some scattered quarterfinals between them and nothing more.

This is a quarter that Halep should dominate at the 2017 Australian Open except for one thing: her current playing level isn’t all that clear. Last year wasn’t a great one for Grand Slams for the Romanian with not even one semifinal appearance in the four majors combined. Furthermore, Halep crashed out of Shenzhen early last week so her short-term form isn’t anything special. She definitely got the draw on Friday in Melbourne, now can she find the form?

While Halep is clearly the favorite in her quarter, I think that it’s really a wide-open section of the women’s tournament. Elina Svitolina, the 11 seed in the draw, is in the same quarter and she has to like her chances as well. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova likewise has to like her chances of doing well. When it comes to picking a player to emerge in the semifinals from this section, I don’t think the odds-on favorite will be a heavy one when the sportsbooks open their odds. I definitely think you would pick Halep, but she’d be a long favorite still in my books.

Shane Lambert