Professional tennis players quick off-season has finished, and the players are in Australia practicing and playing tune-up competitions paving the way to the Australian Open, which starts on Monday.
Will Roger Federer win his 18th Grand Slam title? He as of now holds the record with 17. He came close a year ago — losing in the Wimbledon final to Novak Djokovic in five sets — and at age 33, it appears that this would be one of his last opportunities to win another (however everybody imagined that last year as well).
No. 1 seed Djokovic strives for his fifth Australian Open title following 2008 — and No. 4 seed Stan Wawrinka endeavors to win the title two years in succession.
Will someone else break through? Kei Nishikori, a 25-year-old from Japan who beat Djokovic on his route to the U.S. Open last in September, he has a great chance to win his first Australian Open. Others to watch are 23-year-old Grigor Dimitrov and 24-year old Milos Raonic.
The fitness of Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro will also be watched. Nadal, who has won 14 Grand Slam titles, managed a back damage and had an appendectomy in 2014. Del Potro, who won the 2009 U.s. Open and has been positioned as high as No. 4 on the planet, missed a lot of a year ago as a result of a wrist damage. Both will play in the Australian Open, and are a risk to go far — if sound.
Can Andy Murray, who has won the U.S. Open and Wimbledon, win a third Grand Slam? He needed to work his way back into shape a year ago in the wake of having back surgery in late 2013, but appears fit now.
Serena Williams, the No. 1 player in the world , has won the Australian Open five times, however the last time was in 2010. And she has had a lazy begin to the year. She’s lost two singles matches as of now, and in a match at the Hopman Cup a week ago, the 33-year-old needed to drink a coffee on court in the middle of the first two sets to wake up.
If Williams wins the Australian Open, it will be her 19th Grand Slam singles title.
Maria Sharapova is the No. 2 seed at the Open. She won the Australian Open in 2008 and has won every Grand Slam at least once. At the same time to win this competition she may require another person to beat Williams. They have played 18 times, and Sharapova has just won twice — both in 2004.
Two young players to watch are 23-year-old Simona Halep of Romania and 20-year-old Eugenie Bouchard. Halep made the quarterfinals of the competition a year ago — and in addition the finals at the French Open and the elimination rounds at Wimbledon. Bouchard a year ago made the finals of Wimbledon, and the semifinals of the Australian Open and the French Open.
Others to watch out for are Petra Kvitova, who has won Wimbledon twice, and No. 5 seed Ana Ivanovic, who defeated Williams at the Australian Open in 2014. Victoria Azarenka is unseeded, however this is because she missed a considerable amount of time last year because of a foot injury. The 25-year-old from Belarus has won the competition twice.
This year’s tournament will be missing its reigning champion, Li Na, who retired last September.
Australian Open match replays and highlights will be available on Sporting HQ