Sabine Lisicki, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Julia Goerges Headline WTA Auckland

Shane LambertAnalyst IIJanuary 1, 2012

Sabine Lisicki
Sabine LisickiJulian Finney/Getty Images

WTA Brisbane might be the "main event" on the women's tour this week as that draw features Serena Williams, Samantha Stosur, Kim Clijsters and a host of other talented players. However, WTA Auckland should feature some entertaining late-round matches as talented players such as Sabine Lisicki, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Julia Goerges will be looking to advance through the draw.

Lisicki is the top-seeded player in the tournament and she will open against France's Virginie Razzano. Razzano, a 28-year-old veteran on tour with two career WTA titles, should be fairly easy pickings for Lisicki as the French player did not play her best tennis in 2011 and had numerous losses last season to players outside of the Top 50.

Kuznetsova's first round opponent has not been determined yet as the Russian will face a qualifier in the first round. Surviving that match, Kuznetsova could not face anyone ranked higher than 43rd ranked Christina McHale in the second round. McHale is a 19-year-old American looking to make an impact on tour in 2012.

Goerges, a German national who enjoyed the best season of her career in 2011, will face Hungarian veteran Greta Arn in a first round matchup. Arn, who will turn 33 years old in a few months time, is twice a titlist on tour. However, her best tennis appears to be behind her as she has not won a title since 2007.

Other seeded players in the draw include second-seeded Shuai Peng, fourth-seeded Flavia Pennetta, sixth-seeded Roberta Vinci, seventh-seeded Yanina Wickmayer and eighth-seeded Monica Niculescu. 

A dangerous non-seeded player in the draw might be Canada's Rebecca Marino as the 21-year-old enjoyed some modest success in 2011 and will be looking to get back into the WTA's Top 50.

The tournament could be said to be on Kuznetsova's racket as she is clearly the most accomplished player in the draw. If she plays her best, the two-time Grand Slam champion should pick up her 14th career title. However, the South Pacific tournaments have always presented a challenge to the Russian.

While she is the most proven talent in the field, the Russian has not won a title at WTA Sydney, WTA Auckland or the Australian Open despite entering those three events a combined seventeen times.

Top-seeded Sabine Lisicki did pick up a Premier Level title in Dallas, Texas in the second half of 2011 and she looks like the toughest out in the Auckland draw at this point.

Outright winner prediction: Lisicki