World 1 Ashleigh Barty leads the first section. The newly-crowned Wimbledon champion will open up against Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo–one of the breakout stars in 2021.
Sorribes Tormo has developed into a bonafide hardcourt competitor this season. She captured her maiden WTA title in Guadalajara. The 24-year-old has outpaced her record on clay by some distance. But the Australian top seed is the clear favorite to progress and could face the winner of the first-round clash between Anastasija Sevastova and Fiona Ferroz.
Barty’s projected third-round opponent is likely to be Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova–one of four Russians in the draw. Pavlyuchenkova is expected to overpower the Italian veteran Sara Errani in the first round. And the winner of the duel between Anna-Lena Friedsam and Heather Watson is likely to meet the French Open runner-up.
Moving on, Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic plays American Jessica Pegula in a mouthwatering opener. Canadian prospects will rest onyoung Leylah Fernandez The 18-year-old will lock horns against the exonerated Dayana Yastremska. Fernandez has fared poorly in recent months, but her form on hard courts should put her in good stead against an opponent who has only played three matches this season.
Eighth seed Barbora Krejcikova completes the first section. The Czech has turned the women’s tour into her own playground in the past two-and-half months. In fact, Krejcikova comes to Tokyo as the most in-form WTA player with three singles titles under her belt. That includes her maiden Grand Slam singles title at Roland Garros. Krejcikova has a winnable opening match against Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas, and could face either Bencic or Pegula as early as the third round.