Wimbledon 2019: Defending women’s champion fancied to reach the semi-finals

Ashleigh Barty celebrates win at Wimbledon

The battle to win the women’s singles championship at Wimbledon 2019 promises to be a hard fought affair, with a host of top players in with a genuine chance of claiming the title.

Number two seed Naomi Osaka crashed out on the opening day of the tournament, beaten in straight sets by Yulia Putintseva.

The defending US Open and Australian Open champion has been out of form since winning at Melbourne Park and her early exit wasn’t the greatest surprise in the world.

With Osaka out of the way, we assess who we believe will reach the women’s singles semi-finals at Wimbledon.

Top seed Barty faces a tough route

Ashleigh Barty has improved rapidly over the last 12 months and looks capable of going a long way at the tournament.

The French Open champion has become a player to be feared, but she faces a difficult task to make it through to the last four.

A possible meeting with either defending champion Angelique Kerber or Serena Williams awaits in the quarter-finals and both players are capable of beating the Australian.

Kerber fancied for final four

Kerber kicked off her campaign with a comfortable win over compatriot Tatjana Maria and she is fancied to put up a strong defence of her title.

The 31-year-old has been steadily running into form on grass over the last few weeks, culminating in finishing runner-up at Eastbourne.

A potential fourth round meeting with Williams won’t be easy, although her victory over the US player in last year’s final highlighted her quality.

Barty would be a tough challenge in the quarter-finals, but the German is a confident pick to make it through to the last four.

Momentum to carry Bertens through

Kiki Bertens reached the quarter-finals last year and she looks a good bet to go one better this time around.

The Dutch player has been playing well on grass and continued in the same vein with an impressive first round victory over Mandy Minella.

Fourth seed Petra Kvitova is a possible opponent in the last eight, although she has been struggling with injuries recently.

Bertens has only reached the semi-finals of a Grand Slam on one previous occasion, but she has a great chance to improve that record this year.

Pliskova and Kenin to complete the line-up

Karolina Pliskova was excellent at Eastbourne, dropping just 19 games on her way to winning the title for the second time.

She has started off confidently at Wimbledon and is fully expected to progress to the latter stages of the tournament.

Osaka’s early exit from the tournament opens the door for a surprise in her half of the draw and Sofia Kenin could be the player to benefit.

She won her second singles title of the year at the Mallorca Open and has the potential to make her mark at Wimbledon.