Its similar to Wimbledon. No reason the winner of this match shouldnt get to Vika.
To me, losing round 3 to Kanepi, or round 1 to Pazsek or Lisicki is the same thing.
You have to beat players like Lisicki, Kanepi, Pazsek to get past the 3rd round anyway.
Its better she plays Sabine in round 1, because she knows she has to be ready and she can enjoy the whole tournament in Abu Dhabi or the whole week in Melbourne.
The much bigger issue is her level of play. Her mental toughness. She wont be any trouble for a player like Vika until she pulls herself together mentally. Its possible she lost the mental edge forever, like Jankovic, Ivanovic.
Thats why she had to be very careful about any technique or style of play changes. It messes with the mental toughness she had, knowing how to win with her old game
But I saw Sharapova change her service motion, then change back, and she won again.
So ultimately, the rest of Caroline's career is a test of her mental toughness, and that determines who is a great player and who isnt
I'd say Pavlyuchenkova is the favorite to reach the quarters against Vika as she's clearly playing the best to start off the year. Kuznetsova is probably the 2nd favorite to the reach the quarters in this section.
Losing in the 1st round of a slam is generally a lot more embarssing than losing in the 3rd round.
I don't think it's a good thing for Caro to be playing a pretty tough opponent like Lisicki at the very beginning of a tournament. Caro is someone who normally needs a lot of matches to get in good form. So by getting such tough opposition at the start of tournaments, Caro ends up getting a limited amount of match play and thus makes the process of finding good form drag on.
In the case of the losses to Paszek and Kanepi, I'd say that those are players that arguably better than Caro on grass and clay respectively. Pre-slump Caro was a lot better on hard court than Lisicki.
I think the state of Caro's shots is as much of the problem as her mentality. For example, even if Caro still had a good mentality, Vika would be taking of Caro's serve and all the short balls she gives.