Thursday, 14 January 2016

Aussie Open preparations - Women

As always the lead up preparations for the opening Grand Slam tournament of the year, be it ATP or WTA tournaments, or exhibition or other events, have thrown up a range of questions.

Injuries, illness and doubts over form, cloud the current possibilities of ultimate success at Melbourne Park in the next fortnight for many of the top ranked players, especially those of the female variety.  

Serena, despite her concerns, remains favourite to take another title, on the back of practically no competitive tennis.  Thankfully Simona Halep appears to have overcome her foot issue as she forges towards a trophy in Sydney.  
A tournament winner already this year, Aga Radwanska is struggling to be fit for the big one, and if she makes it to the start line her chance of a first major is perhaps as real as ever given her finish to 2015 and her increased belief in her ability to finish off not just middle of the road tournaments.

Maria Sharapova, with hardly any tennis since the middle of 2015, performed remarkably well in the season ender, but sadly succumbed again to injury before swinging a racquet in Brisbane.  However, her renowned ability to be super competitive after long periods off the court will see her as a top threat in Melbourne.

As too will be the fresh face and now proven top level player Garbine Muguruza, provided her injury can be overcome in time.  Her power game is being refined all the time and with it comes increasing danger for prospective opponents.

For me, though, apart from Petra Kvitova whose illness may prevent her from asserting herself to full potential, it is Vika Azarenka that provides the exciting prospect this year at the Aus Open.
Not ranked as high as she would be but for injury and form problems over the past 12 months, Vika has hit Australia in a patch of form perfect for a two time winner of the down under GS.

She breezed through Brisbane, thrashing Angelique Kerber in the final, and her confidence is there for everyone to see and hear.
The draw is important, but Vika fears no one, including Serena - she has been very competitive against the world's best player previously so my predictions, coming after the draw, will surely see the Azarenka name prominent.

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