The 1st major of the year is upon us, the Australian Open tennis championships has begun. Let’s take a look at the contenders and the pretenders, and make some predictions for this 2 week event. 32 players are seeded on both the men’s and women’s sides out of a draw of 128 contenders.
Andy Murray has played his last Australian Open match as he lost in a tough 5 sets to Agut in the 1st round, 6-2 in the fifth. Recurring hip pain has sidelined Murray for much of the past 12-18 months. He has tried multiple options, but the hip isn’t at 100%, and Murray has indicated Wimbledon this year could be his last tournament ever.
Djokovic is the top seed and he is the favorite here as he has won the last 2 majors. Nadal is nursing a slight leg injury, and with Federer at 37 1/2 years old, Novak has the inside track. Zverev won the ATP masters in November and defeated Fed and Novak along the way to the title, but he has repeatedly disappointed in the majors. Maybe 2019 will be his breakthrough year, but we won’t be picking him to win until he proves he can handle the ultimate pressure and prove that he has the stamina to go the distance in a major.
Nick Krygios and Sam Querrey have already exited the tournament in the first round. Milos Raonic took out Nick in straight sets, and Raonic could be a threat to go fairly deep here. His 2nd serve kick is one of the best in the game. Querrey losing so early was a big surprise as he has been playing great tennis through most of 2017.
How about a surprise winner of the Australian Open ? We are taking Karen Kachanov, the Russian/Armenian who is ranked # 11 in the world coming in to this event. He has the size (6′ 6″), serve, movement, forehand and backhand to challenge anyone. The only question for the 22 year old is whether is stamina will hold up for such a tough event in the heat with 3 out of 5 sets format.
We will keep a close eye on Dominic Thiem as well as Borna Coric for potential title holders.
As for the women, we don’t think Serena is going to win from the 16th seed spot. She could have problems with Bouchard in the 2nd round, who is once again playing like a top 10 contender. Naomi Osaka, the U.S. Open champion is going to be tough to beat here with her enormous power of of both wings as well as her outstanding composure. Madison Keys once again should go deep at a major, but probably will come up short.
Sloane Stephens has the game to win this title if her mind is focused and she doesn’t let her foot off the pedal. Simon Halep comes into this event in a huge slump, and we don’t expect here to be near the trophy when this event is all done. Caroline W also could go deep here if she gets a good draw.
Kerber and Kvitova are not 2 women that you would want to draw here, as Kvitova has played very well recently, and Kerber has the determination and the defensive speed to take anyone out in this field.
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