The 2009 season has begun, yes, but before we wipe off our crystal balls, we need to remember that unknown factors are coming faintly into sight. Those unknown factors are, to be specific, Maria Sharapova and Jelena Dokic.
Was Dokic's run through the Australian Open a short burst of triumph? I doubt it. And while there are definitely some things she needs to change about her game, she is still Jelena Dokic, and I think--once she does some fine-tuning--she may wind up taking a few top 20 players to school. Think of this as Hingis coming back, but with more drive and more power. Granted, Dokic didn't win any majors when she was a top 10 player, nor does she (or anyone) have the tennis mind of Hingis, but Dokic is mentally strong and can really hit the ball.
What about Maria? She says her shoulder has completely healed. I hope so. And if that is the case--once she plays enough to get match-tough again--she will be a major factor.
One might also consider throwing Victoria Azarenka into this mix because, with her new outlook, she is the complete package.
A lot could change in a few months.