Sharapova to win the Australia Open!
In a sport such as Tennis, where the end results for the men and women have been more or less predictable for years, the Australian Open is the one Grand Slam tournament at which funny things have happened. One thing though, that can be said with certainty is there will be a new champion on the women’s side as Li Na, who finally broke through in this event last year, retired last September due to serious knee problems. That opens the door for No. 1 seed Serena Williams and No. 2 Maria Sharapova.
This is going to be a pivotal year for Serena as she’s been the most dominant player on the women’s side for a decade and has won five major events since the beginning of 2012. Last year, though, there were cracks in her armour as she failed to make it past the fourth round at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. Sharapova too, had some of the same problems Williams had last year, not advancing past the fourth round in a Grand Slam, except in the Rolland Garros, that she ended up winning.
In the shadow of these 2, lies an often-underrated player, Victoria Azarenka, who won this event in 2012 and 2013 before injuries wrecked her 2014 season. She’s fallen down to 41st in the world rankings but is still only 25 years old and young enough to bounce back and be stronger than before.
Some Hot Tips:
The most-feared player on the WTA Tour has had a difficult to the 2015 season. Serena started the season at the Hopman Cup in Perth and was promptly served an opening-set bagel by Flavia Pennetta. Many spectators left their seats for a coffee break after the set, but Serena didn’t. Instead, she ordered an espresso from her chair. Despite those early struggles, it would be very unwise to underestimate Serena as she still holds 18 Grand Slams titles, including five in Melbourne, and can seemingly flip the switch whenever she needs to. Having said this though, she hasn’t won the Australian Open since 2010. Lukewarm.
No player has benefited more from the early weeks of the 2015 season than Maria Sharapova and a Sharapova with extra confidence is a scary thought for the rest of the WTA. The number 2 seed, winner of the 2008 Australian Open and runner-up in 2007 and 2012, knows what it takes to win in Melbourne and she won’t be intimidated by the situation.
The biggest question for her remains whether she can beat Serena if they face off. Based on their results so far in 2015 it doesn’t seem that impossible. Hot, in more ways than one!
Victoria Azarenk missed most of the 2014 season before making her long-awaited return last week with a defeat in Brisbane. That opening-round loss means Azarenka will head to Melbourne with little match preparation and even as a two-time champion Down Under, she’ll will struggle as she tries to find her old form. Cold.
Caroline Wozniacki’s Slam-less drought shows no signs of ending soon. The Dane hasn’t advanced past the fourth round in Australia since 2012, and with her wrist injury, it’s tough to see her having the firepower to make a deep run Down Under. Cold.
Eugenie Bouchard’s breakthrough 2014 season fizzled to a close, but she began to show rebirth at the Hopman Cup. She is currently playing without a coach and needs to gain back momentum in order to reassert herself as a top contender. A deep run in Australia would be the springboard she desperately needs. Tepid.
Simona Halep is out to prove her 2014 season wasn’t a fluke and she certainly started with a bang this year, capturing the title in Shenzen after a dominant victory over Timea Bacsinszky. What makes Halep so tough to beat these days is not just her rock-steady ground-strokes and superb court movement but her confidence. The rest of the field in Australia will have to watch out for Halep as grand slam titles are now within her grasp. Warm.