The Brisbane International was meant to be the most competitive WTA tournament before the Australian open this January, but no one thought that competition would come from lower ranked players scalping seeded favourites.
Eight of the world’s top 10 players were down to play Brisbane, an event that has grown in stature over the years and is now the biggest pre-Melbourne tournament on the circuit. With a prize fund of $1,000,000 there was genuine excitement that we could witness a quarter-finals bill of all eight top-ranked players, but of course the WTA has proven competitive down the hierarchy with some major scalps already this week.
Writing this article on New Years Day evening (UK time), only four of the eight quarter-finalists have been confirmed yet we have already witnessed some real surprises.
None the least is Ksenia Pervak, Kazakhstan’s little-known qualifier who beat eighth-seed Caroline Wozniacki in the first round 2-6 6-3 7-6 (7-1). Pervak further raised eyebrows in the second round when beating Urszula Radwanska, again coming back from a set down, and should face world number one Victoria Azarenka in the quarters.
Pervak has not been too spectacular either. She made 61 unforced errors against Wozniacki and narrowly beat Radwanska in a third-set tie break, but win she did and the 22-year-old can be proud to have made it this far in such a competitive bill.
There were further shocks in the first round with home favourite Sam Stosur falling in straight sets to Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden, while former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova also lost in two sets – to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (pictures) – to limp out early.
Sara Errani failed to continue her good 2012 form into the new year with a second-round loss to Daniela Hantuchova; fourth-seed Angelique Kerber fell to qualifier Monica Puig; while Maria Sharapova pulled out of the tournament before the first round with a collarbone injury.
All in all, Brisbane has not turned out to be the fiercely competitive tournament organisers would have hoped for as the top seeds fall in the early rounds. Still, both Azarenka and Serena Williams are left in he draw and with the pair on one side there is a real chance for a lower-ranked player to make an early WTA tournament final this January.
Three_Sets is hereby backing the young Pervak to continue the scalp and claim victories over both Azarenka and Williams before the final on 6 January. The Kazakh has nothing to lose and clearly the confidence to take on higher-ranked players.