Four must-see WTA first-round matches at the Australian Open

  • Iga Swiatek vs. Sofia Kenin
  • Elena Rybakina vs. Karolina Pliskova
  • Naomi Osaka vs. Caroline Garcia
  • Angelique Kerber vs. Danielle Collins
Graham Denholm/GettyImages

The tennis gods have given fans a lot to be excited about. The first round of the Australian Open will hit the ground running with four matches that feature eight Grand Slam champions.

World No. 1 Iga Swiatek, who has never won the Australian Open, takes on 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin. Swiatek's trajectory to the top has occurred while Kenin dealt with injury, confidence, and form issues, but Kenin has been more consistent on all fronts these days.

World No. 3 Elena Rybakina drew Karolina Pliskova. Pliskova looked great last week in her match against Naomi Osaka.

The new mothers, Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber, have rough first-round matches too.

There is no easing into the first Grand Slam since maternity leave for either Naomi Osaka or Angelique Kerber. Naomi Osaka will play Caroline Garcia, the 2022 WTA Finals champion. Angelique Kerber faces Danielle Collins, the 2022 Australian Open finalist.

This illustrates just how deep the women's game is with accomplished and talented players who have been in Grand Slam and big match finals before.

And now for the predictions...assuming this is like meteorology, there is no harm to being wrong.
1. Swiatek will defeat Kenin but will be pushed to three sets.
2. Rybakina will beat Pliskova in straight sets.
3. Garcia will upset Osaka in three sets.
4. Collins will defeat Kerber in straight sets.

Osaka and Kerber will be in the mix later in the season, but both are just returning after a long layoff. It is highly unlikely that they are match ready and physically and mentally prepared for the two-week grind of a Grand Slam.

Jessica Pegula is my predicted 2024 Australian Open champion. She was the runner-up at the 2023 WTA Finals and has already been tested a lot in 2024 with long and difficult matches at the United Cup and Adelaide. Pegula will win her maiden Grand Slam.

Read more from Lob and Smash