On the new tennis year 2014 – Australian Open
It’s time for the first Grand Slam of the year – the Australian Open in Melbourne starts tomorrow. For me, the favorites of last year are clearly the ones to beat in the coming year as they demonstrated already their great form in the lead up tournaments.
Serena Williams, en route to winning the title in Brisbane, defeated Sharapova decisively, who was injured the second half of last year, and Azarenka, the 2 time defending Australian Open champion. She made clear to her competitors her ambition to keep her No. 1 ranking. Which she could hold on to for the next few years if she remains injury free. I also believe this year she’ll pass the record of 18 Grand Slam victories held by Chris Everts and Martina Navratilova.
I look forward to seeing the Bulgarian Pironkovas play, she’s had some good results and just won Sydney in the final against Kerber. We also can welcome the 16-year old Bencic, in her first year on the professional tour, with a great start by qualifying for the main draw of the Australian Open.
Other players to watch closely are the German’s Kerber and Lisicki, after her great success of making it to the Wimbledon finals last year; and also Sloane Stephens who struggled with injuries in the past few weeks but hopefully she will be fit enough to play.
Nadal won his 61st ATP Open Era title (passing Andre in the ranking) with convincing tennis against Tsonga, Gasquet and Monfils, making him next to Djokovic, who played no lead up tournaments, my top favorite for Melbourne.
Also Del Petro, Isner and Wawrinka – as a new member of the top 10 – showed with their respective victories in Sydney, Auckland and Chennai, that they are a serious threat in the next two weeks. Nice to see Murray back on the circuit after his injury lay-off last fall.
It is interesting to see how many of the top players chose to start the season with a new coach, for example Djokovic / Becker, Federer / Edberg, Lisicki / Hingis, Stephens / Annacone all hoping to gain advantage from the knowledge and experience of their new coaching staff. Already a hot topic of last year were the number of players over the age of 30 having incredible success in the big tournaments – let’s see if it continues.
Hope everybody enjoys the matches!
I miss being in Melbourne, hopefully I’ll make it back there one day again…