Australian Open 2012: Women's Draw Preview

The 2012 Australian Open Women's draw begins at 12 p.m. ET today on the outdoor courts. There are few women's matchups that are must watch matches in the women's draw. First and foremost there will be a chance to check out Kim Clijsters, the defending champion in her opening matchup with qualifier Maria Joao Koehler.

Another key match will be the No. 1 seed Caroline Wozniacki, who will be taking on Anastasia Rodionova in the first round. Oddly enough, SI.com's experts think that Wozniacki could be an early out in the Open:

She looks to be in even better physical shape than before, and I loved that exhibition in which she and Kim Clijsters mocked the insufferable shriekers of the women's Tour. There's nothing new about Wozniacki's game, though. She still can't close out the important points in a crisis, and it's difficult to instill a killer instinct in a player lacking big-time weapons. Her search for that first major title will continue.

There are a few other key matches to watch as well, including the No. 5 seed Li Na taking on Ksenia Pervak. If Na can take down Pervak, she will be one step closer to another potential rematch of last year's final with Clijsters.

Maria Sharapova is taking on Gisela Dulko in the first round and the would have to take on the winner of Mandy Minella Vs. Jamie Hampton to continue further. Sports Illustrated's panel of experts also has Sharapova as someone who could get knocked out earlier than expected.

Maria Sharapova. While I admire the Russian's fight and don't like counting her out, she has, by far, the toughest draw of any of the top seeds on the men's or women's side. Just to get to the semifinals and live up to her seeding, Sharapova would have to beat Giselo Dulko, Angelique Kerber, Sabine Lisicki or Svetlana Kuznetsova and Serena. I just don't see it happening.

For more on the 2012 Australian Open, be sure to stick to SB Nation Tennis.

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