Sunday, January 6, 2013

Who will win the Australian Open?

In a "normal" WTA world, there would be five contenders for the Australian Open title: Serena Williams, defending champion Victoria Azarenka, Petra Kvitova, Maria Sharapova, and Li Na. That's a good list. But, as usual, the WTA world isn't "normal," and it's just January.

The defending champion withdrew from the Brisbane semifinals (she would have played Williams) because of a toe infection brought on by a bad pedicure. Sharapova has an injured collarbone. Kvitova is--well, decorum prevents me from saying what she is, but she's obviously in some kind of professional crisis.

Williams just had minor surgery on both big toes, but that didn't stop her from winning the Brisbane title. Because she's, you know, Serena Williams. And Li won the Shenzhen title, which means she had a nice warmup for Melbourne.

Of course, there's every reason to believe that Azarenka will be fine by the time the Australian Open starts, and that Sharapova will be fine, too. I'm not so sure about Kvitova, though it pains me to say so.

We can't talk about the Australian Open without mentioning Sam Stosur, but history tells us that the Australian star is the least comfortable on her home court. It would be great to see her do really well in Melbourne, but perhaps we shouldn't get our hopes up.

 What do you think? Can Azarenka defend her title? Can anyone stop Serena?


Sunny nine said...

I think the only thing I can say is that Azarenka was serving for the match at the USO. She was able to "get into" Serena. So if Azarenka learned anything, then she might have a chance. One has to remember that it took 3 sets for Serena to win Wimbledon and the USO. And one of those was to Radwanska. So I think Serena can be beaten because I think she is dealing with more nerves at this stage of her life. Everything counts, everything is going towards her legacy. But Serena is Serena and has to be totally respected.

Anonymous said...

Not considering Aga a treat?

Overhead Spin said...

Sunny, I think whatever nerves Serena had at Wimbledon and the USO have now been vanquished. The way she turned that match around in the 3rd set at both Wimby & the USO speaks to her state of mind and her ability to call upon her inner fight to win both titles.

I watched her matches this year at Brisbane and this is a woman on a mission. She seems fitter than I have ever seen her in a long while. She is also focused, moving well & talk about her serve. I think she got broken once in the whole tournament.

Diane said...

Sometimes a typo hits the mark :). A treat, indeed. A threat? Theoretically, yes. But considering her record against Azarenka and Williams, I can't put her in the category of potential winners.

Having said that, I'll add that I wouldn't exactly fall down in shock if she won.

Sunny nine said...

Tennis Ace, I basically agree with you. I was just going by Serena, herself, talking about her nerves. She seems to be talking about it more now. I also just meant that it must be more pressure at Grand Slams when your number is getting higher-she is almost at Evert's and Navritalova's(?) numbers.
You are correct in saying she is on a mission. Each match she gives a 100%. As I said before Serena is Serena and is to be totally respected-especially going in as the favorite.

Overhead Spin said...

Sunny, I remember when Serena just returned to the Tour, one of her biggest problems that she said she had was her inability to close. If you recall, she struggled mightily in her 1st round match against Rezai (what the dickens happened to her) and cried on the sidelines once the match was over.

Since that time she seems more ready to talk about her game, her nerves and every facet of her game. I think for some reason Serena does have more appreciation for this sport, not for what it brings to her financially, but what it brings to her mental state.

As someone who used to play tennis, I can tell you that the inability to no longer be able to play (arthritis) is something that irks me to no end. It is a sport that you really look forward to playing. I remember when I used to play league tennis, just knowing that I had a match for which I had to prepare, and going for practice in the evenings was something that I really looked forward to. I cannot imagine these players not loving it even more

Daniel said...

Has Liezel and Lisa split for 2013?

Diane said...

I'm not sure, Daniel. I can't find confirmation one way or the other. Does anyone know for sure?

Daniel said...

Copy/pasted from Jon Wertheim's column posted a little bit ago..

Many of the top women's doubles pairings look new to me: Anna-Lena Groenefeld/Kveta Peschke, Maria Kirilenko/Lisa Raymond, Nadia Petrova/Katarina Srebotnik, Liezel Huber/Sania Mirza. Has there been a big shakeup?
-- Colin, Anchorage

• This is what I love about tennis: a fan in Anchorage is curious about partnerships involving a South African and an Indian, before they both play in Australia. Yes, lots of shakeups in the netherworld that is doubles. (You know what the women's doubles subculture needs for stability: a set of twins who never leave the other's side.) One day a savvy TV executive is going to make that reality show on the soap operatic world of doubles. Until then, I can only float the suggestion so many times ...

Read More:

Diane said...

The ATP doubles shakes up a lot, too.

Some of these are ad hoc teams because one partner isn't in Sydney. Some are probably new combinations. I thought Srebotnik was retiring.

I heard that Kuznetsova and Pennetta are going to play together. That could be a great combo.