Who Will Reign At Tennis’ Australian Open?
There’s always plenty of questions leading into the first Grand Slam of the year, but this renewal of the Australian Open tennis championship is perhaps the most unpredictable in history. The men’s tournament looks like an episode of The Walking Dead; the women’s has a great big Serena-shaped gap; put simply, guessing a winner has rarely been more difficult! We’ve combed through the field, though, and taken a shot at singling out those with the best chance of making their Melbourne adventure a memorable one… Plus, you can catch all the action on Sky Sports this season!
Plus ça change, eh?! It’s hard to recall a time when the Swiss master wasn’t there or thereabouts ahead of a major tournament – and with the absence of Andy Murray, as well as injury doubts plaguing Novak Djokovic and world No. 1 Rafael Nadal, a record 20th Grand Slam title is well within reach. Champion last year, he’s in good form too; staying healthy, though, may be enough in itself!
The Bulgarian currently sits at No. 3 in the world, following a season-ending victory at the ATP Finals in November. A semi-finalist this time last year, his form has only improved since, and an impressive showing at the Brisbane International warm-up event has led many to conclude that his major breakthrough may well arrive in this year’s tournament.
The temperamental Aussie has often made headlines for all the wrong reasons; how a home triumph would change that narrative! Phenomenally talented, yet his petulance and bad behaviour is seen as a stumbling block, but victory in Brisbane suggests he’s in a better frame of mind. He’s never been past the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam event before, but there’s a feeling that might change this time…
Last year saw the Spaniard add a Wimbledon crown to her French Open title the previous year; little wonder, then, that she’s eyeing up the third leg of a career Grand Slam this month. The hard courts of Melbourne may not be ideal for her powerful groundstrokes, but she nonetheless begins the tournament as one of the top seeds, and a well-fancied contender.
A mountain of tour titles and a lengthy spell as World No. 1 can’t mask the fact that the Dane’s CV has one rather notable gap; a Grand Slam title. Finishing her last campaign by dominating the WTA Finals in Singapore was a warning to the rest of the sport, though, and with her excellent baseline game now complemented by a beefed-up serve, that elusive major win might be within sight.
Another player who’s reached the top of the rankings – where she currently resides – without capturing a major, the Romanian relies on slick movement and aggressive counter-attacks to outwit and outlast opponents. Twice the bridesmaid at Roland Garros, she’ll be hoping to overcome the final hurdle in Melbourne, and a win at the Shenzhen warm-up tournament bodes well…
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