The return of the tennis season is marked by the customary January Grand Slam event, the Australian Open.
For the next few days, an assembly of the World’s top-ranked tennis players will battle for the crown yet again. Although the women’s Grand Slam has become an increasingly unpredictable terrain, the Men’s version is a lot more straightforward; particularly in Australia.
Here, we will preview the first Grand Slam of the year and the chances of some of the top-seeded players at the event.
Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are the most successful players at this event, both men having won the coveted prize on hard surface six times each. And if all things go well, both players may well meet in the final to determine who gets the prize for the seventh time. You can’t write this script.
Roger Federer has 20 Grand Slam titles to his name, and he is aiming for a twenty-first title that will pull him farther away from the pack, and having won the last two tournaments in a row he will be eyeing a possible third.
Djokovic, on the other hand, has made this event his, having gone on a run of five wins from six between 2011 and 2016. However, it feels like a long time ago since the Serb last won here.
Just like it was in 2009, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are the top three seeds this year in no particular order. It has been a decade of total dominance by these three players, punctured occasionally but never long enough to disrupt the order.
That said, Nadal is coming of the back of an injury-plagued off-season and might really struggle here. Nadal isn’t as impeccable on the hard surface as he usually is on clay and his solitary win and three final losses tell the story.
Kevin Anderson had an incredible 2018, reaching five finals including one at Wimbledon. Although he lost the Grand Slam final to Novak Djokovic, the South African star ended the year with a win in the ATP 500 masters and is already off to a flying start in 2019. Can’t call a win for Kevin Anderson, but he won’t be a pushover.
Alexander Zverev hasn’t progressed beyond the third round in each of the past two years, in fact, his grand slam record is an embarrassment; the German has never reached the semis at any Grand Slam event.
But this isn’t as embarrassing as it seems, because he is still only 21 years old and can boast of an ATP Tour finals title, a trophy that consistently evades Rafael Nadal.
Andy Murray is enduring one of his toughest moments as a professional, add to that an injury-plagued year. Although he his back and fit, he hasn’t had enough games leading to this event and may well face early elimination. That will probably serve as a blessing in disguise for the British star.
There have been eight different winners of the last eight Grand Slams in the women’s category.
Serena defeated her sister, Venus to win the event in 2017 despite being seven weeks pregnant at the time, but since her departure from the sport, no one has singlehandedly dominated the sport.
And if her consecutive Grand Slam final appearances in 2018 are anything to take seriously –no one has reached consecutive grand slam finals -, then Serena Williams is probably in full swing and ready to reclaim the title she couldn’t defend last year.
Naomi Osaka had a good year also, reaching at least the semis in five of the final six events of 2018 and winning the US Open too. Perhaps she can pick off where she left off.
Angelique Kerber has been about the most consistent player in recent years. The German won three of the four Grand Slam finals she played in since 2016; her only defeat was to Serena Williams but she equally handed the American two defeats. If anyone can return to winning ways, it is definitely her.