Melody Francis will be looking to make it three titles in a row after securing back to back wins at the Millicent Open and South Australian Open in June. The number one seed rose nine places to a career high ranking of 44 in this month’s list, however if the 22 year old is to go on to take the title she will have to get past some tricky opposition.
As well as facing some tough competition from some young compatriots, there is a feast of international stars ready to pounce.
The number two seed is Samantha Cornett from Canada. Cornett won her first title in May at the Torneo Internacional in Guatemala and the tall and powerful 20 year old is making moves up the ranking. But she could face a hard opening match against City of Perth Open champion, Korea’s Ahn Eun Chan.
The most dangerous player in Francis’ way could possibly be number 8 seed Deon Saffrey. The Welsh number one is ranked a lowly 89, way below where she should be after only playing five tournaments in the last year. However, she has proved she is in good form by lifting her second title earlier this year at the Delaware State Open, beating Cornett in the final.
There is also further danger in the face of Scotland’s Lisa Aitken, a potential second round opponent for Saffrey and the Hong Kong duo of Elise Ng and Liu Tsz-Ling who are set to face off in the quarter finals.
There are three further tournaments in the Australian Circuit, the Tasmanian Open, Hitachi Queensland Open and the New South Wales Open and the competition here only gets tougher.
Francis will be skipping the Tasmanian Open, but it will still feature all the contenders from the Victorian Open plus Kiwi’s Kylie Lindsay, the top seed at all three tournaments and fast rising Amanda Landers-Murphy. The second seed will be Czech number two Olga Ertlova.
Francis will return for the Hitachi Queensland Open and New South Wales Open along with almost all the challengers from the Tasmanian Open. The draws will be strengthened even further by the presence of world number 41 Korean number one Song Sun-Mi and South African Siyoli Waters.
With such high class fields in all four tournaments, there are numerous potential winners from all over the globe. If Francis can fend them all off, then her star will definitely rise even higher this year.