2017 Toray Pan Pacific Open: Preview and Predictions

Garbine Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova, defending champion Caroline Wozniacki and former world number one Angelique Kerber are amongst the stars in action in what should be an exciting tournament in the Japanese capital.

2017 Toray Pan Pacific Open: Preview and Predictions
Naomi Osaka and Caroline Wozniacki were the finalists in 2016 (Getty/Koji Watanabe)

The Asian swing continues this week, with the Toray Pan Pacific Open being the first event on the WTA side to attract several notable names for what should be an exciting tournament.

Perhaps the most notable name in action will be Garbine Muguruza, with the Spaniard looking to win her first title as the world number one, though former world number ones Karolina Pliskova and Caroline Wozniacki, the defending champion, are also present and are seeded second and third respectively.

Muguruza will be playing as the world number one for the first time (Getty/Clive Brunskill)
Muguruza will be playing as the world number one for the first time (Getty/Clive Brunskill)

Johanna Konta rounds out the top four seeds, with Dominika Cibulkova, Agnieszka Radwanska, Angelique Kerber, and Kristina Mladenovic the final seeds in the draw. There is also some home interest for the spectators, with 2016 runner-up Naomi Osaka, Risa Ozaki and Kurumi Nara both set to play.

There are 470 ranking points available for the winner of the tournament, with the winner also claiming $193,850 in prize money. The first four seeds all receive a bye in the opening round.

First Quarter

Projected Q/F: (1st) Garbine Muguruza vs (6th) Agnieszka Radwanska

Muguruza’s midseason resurgence has been rather staggering, and the new world number must be full of confidence after her turnaround of form. An opening round clash against either a qualifier or the struggling Monica Puig should not phase her too much to make the last eight.

Radwanska will be hoping for a strong start to the Asian season (Getty/Richard Heathcote)
Radwanska will be hoping for a strong start to the Asian season (Getty/Richard Heathcote)

In contrast, sixth-seeded Radwanska has struggled all season and will be determined to improve in a part of the season that she has had success in the past. The Pole does start against a qualifier, a promising first round encounter, though a trickier second round match against Nara or Yulia Putintseva may be more of a test.

Prediction: Muguruza def Radwanska

Second Quarter

Projected Q/F: (3rd) Caroline Wozniacki vs (5th) Dominika Cibulkova

Wozniacki will be looking to rebounded after a disappointing second round loss at the US Open, and will also be after a first title of 2017 after six final losses. The Dane has the advantage of a first round bye, though could face the tricky Shelby Rogers in her first match; the American should be able to beat Ozaki in her first match.

Suarez Navarro could be a danger in this draw (Getty/Matthew Stockman)
Suarez Navarro could be a danger in this draw (Getty/Matthew Stockman)

Cibulkova, meanwhile, has struggled all season and needs an incredibly strong end to 2017 to try and reach the WTA Finals, where she won the title last season. However, the Slovak has a nightmare first round draw against the ever-dangerous Carla Suarez Navarro, and with the tricky Katerina Siniakova a potential second round opponent for the winner of that, this could be an interesting section.

Prediction: Wozniacki def Suarez Navarro

Third Quarter

Projected Q/F: (8th) Kristina Mladenovic vs (4th) Johanna Konta

Both Mladenovic and Konta fell in the opening round in New York, though the Frenchwoman will be even more determined to win after going on a five-match losing streak. The eighth seed has a tricky start against Qiang Wang to begin with, and with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Catherine Bellis also present, this will be a tough section for all involved.

Konta will be looking to rebound after a poor US Open (Getty/Elsa)
Konta will be looking to rebound after a poor US Open (Getty/Elsa)

Things will also be tough for Konta, who will have to face a very difficult opponent in the second round before facing a tricky last eight opponent. The Brit will start against Magdalena Rybarikova or Barbora Strycova (which should be an interesting first round clash), though will fancy her chances after strong results in Asia in the past.

Prediction: Konta def Pavlyuchenkova

Fourth Quarter

Projected Q/F: (7th) Angelique Kerber vs (2nd) Karolina Pliskova

It has been a nightmare 2017 for Kerber, and things have become even worse for the German following the draw; she faces Osaka, who beat her in the opening round in New York with ease. The winner of that will come up against Caroline Garcia, who has put together a fairly solid season, or Daria Kasatkina in what is another interesting encounter.

Garcia has had a fairly solid season to date (Getty/Al Bello)
Garcia has had a fairly solid season to date (Getty/Al Bello)

Pliskova comes into Tokyo fresh off her sacking of coach David Kotyza, and will be interesting to see how the Czech plays after losing some of her early season form. The second seed could face Daria Gavrilova in the second round, with the Australian capable of causing trouble, and could come up against a tricky last eight opponent if she reaches that stage.

Prediction: Garcia def Pliskova

Semifinals

Muguruza def Wozniacki

Konta def Garcia

Final

Muguruza def Konta