Australian Open women's draw: Simona Halep opens against local teen wild card

After rising to the world No 1 ranking Simona Halep is one of a number of top contenders for the women's title

The title defence is already over.

A confident Caroline Wozniacki declared Saturday she was in the form of her life as she targets a first Grand Slam title when the Australian Open begins next week. "It was a good start to the year".

The American said of the WTA Finals champion: "She is a great story, she dropped down the rankings and has been resilient".

Being number one in the world, Halep is surely the favourite going into the tournament.

At the bottom of the quarter - Caroline Garcia, who impressed many at the WTA Finals retired in her opener in tears with a lower back spasm, and would potentially come up against Madison Keys in the fourth round, or Kristina Mladenovic, although her compatriot's form has been a mess since the middle of past year.

French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia rocketed up the rankings with her victory in Paris and will be one

Venus Williams, on the other hand, will be hoping to keep the family flag flying in Melbourne just like she wished the same on the green of London.

With the prospect of Agnieszka Radwanska in the third round who seems to have re-found her groove a little, not to mention Angelique Kerber, Anastasija Sevastova and Maria Sharapova lurking as possible fourth-round opponents, it may not be the chance for the Spaniard to add to her Slam haul.

Danish former world number one Caroline Wozniacki, the second seed after her resurgence in 2017 when she reached eight finals, opens against Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania in the bottom half of the draw. She is ready to grace the court like she did in USA but exactly like that, she will remain the underdog.

At the other side of the bracket, Elina Svitolina will expect to build on her strong start to the season and a lot depends on exactly which Sloane Stephens turns up.

But the Romanian said she was not feeling the pressure of entering the tournament as the top seed. "I feel OK. I feel fit", said the 26-year-old.

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And she claimed she felt no extra pressure to win a first Grand Slam, despite rising expectations with defending champion Serena Williams ruled out after the birth of her first child.

Evert has a hunch though - she believes this could be it for Halep.

"Yeah, my people are working for me on this stuff", she said.

Wozniacki is projected to face French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in the quarters.

With so many players in contention and so much firepower, handling the stress will be the key, according to Mats Wilander.

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"Mental stress for women in a slam is harder than the men because it's harder break a game down in the women's game with defensive skills".

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