Dear readers, professional tennis instructor Florian Meier from OnlineTennisInstruction.com is back with another guest post, this time presenting his take on the Australian Open women's draw. Florian's previous contributions to Women's Tennis Blog included in-depth analysis of Sabine Lisicki's game and US Open predictions. Enjoy Florian's preview!
Hey everyone. The Australian Open is about to start and this year the field seems to be wide open without clear favorites. Also many of the top players are struggling with injuries and Andrea Petkovic already had to withdraw from the event because of a back injury. In this article I want to give you my view on who has the best chances to win the tournament.
I decided to pick out four players who I believe have the biggest chance to win this year’s Australian Open title.
1. PETRA KVITOVA
Petra Kvitova is currently in a close battle with Caroline Wozniacki for the world number 1 ranking. She had her breakthrough winning Wimbledon last year and I think she has very good chances to become the most successful player in 2012.
Her game is big, she played well in the warm up matches to the tournament, and she seems to have the confidence and belief now.
CHECK OUT HOW WELL KVITOVA IS PLAYING IN THIS VIDEO
2. KIM CLIJSTERS
Clijsters is the defending champion and in my opinion always a threat at any Grand Slam. She had a tough second half of the season in 2011, where she did not play much at all because of several injuries.
Having had such a long preparation could be an advantage for her because she is probably in great shape right now. At the warm-up tournament in Brisbane she seemed to be in strong form but had to pull out because of a hip injury. The latest reports are saying that she is practicing at 100% though and therefore I think she is one of the favourites to win the title.
3. SERENA WILLIAMS
As usual it is difficult to assess what kind of form Serena Williams is in for the Australian Open. She has not played much before the tournament but she obviously likes the tournament, having won it five times in the past.
In a recent interview I heard Brad Gilbert, famous coach and expert, talk about how hard Serena was preparing and how well she looked out on the practice courts. An ankle injury forced her to pull out of Brisbane but she has also been seen practicing hard on site in Melbourne. She has not played many tournament matches in a while so it will be crucial for her to get through the first couple of rounds.
If she gets through the first couple of rounds and stays healthy she will definitely be one of the top favourites for the title.
4. MARIA SHARAPOVA
Sharapova also had to pull out of Brisbane due to an ankle injury. Nevertheless she has been seen practicing regularly on-site at the Aussie Open since then and said that she is confident she can play the tournament.
Sharapova played quite well last year. She is working hard and seems very focused on her goal to win another Grand Slam. As usual a lot depends on serve though. If she had time during the off-season to work on it and get her motion a bit more fluid, then she has a good chance at competing for the title at this tournament.
OTHER NOTABLE PLAYERS
Apart from these four, there are many more players with realistic chances to win the title at this year’s Aussie Open. Let’s have a look at some of the other in-form players.
Azarenka is currently number 3 in the world. So far she has not had much success at the Grand Slams though. She plays well but I am not sure if her game is big enough to beat some of the top players like Kvitova and Williams when they are at their best late in a Grand Slam.
That being said, she has just won the Sydney warm-up event, beating Li Na in the finals, and played excellent tennis. With so many of the top players slightly injured as well, she could have a real chance to go deep into the tournament with her solid game.
Wozniacki is still the number 1 player in the world but as we all know she has not won a Grand Slam yet.
At the end of last year Caroline hired Ricardo Sanchez as her new coach. I think she made a good move in hiring a new coach to try and make a few minor but important changes to her game. It’s really tough to assess what kind of an impact Sanchez will have, but it is definitely a good sign that Caroline hired someone new and is looking to make some changes to her game.
Caroline was also slightly injured in the warm-up event before the Aussie Open. That combined with the uncertainty as to what they are trying to do with her game, I don’t see her in the group of the top favorites to win the tournament.
Sam Stosur is a player that I expect to do really well in 2012. Her game is huge and she also had a breakthrough last year, winning the US Open. She definitely has the game to do well at the tournament but she seems to be quite nervous performing in front of the Australian crowd. She has never gotten past the 4th round at this tournament.
If she can get her nerves under control she should do well though.
Li Na was a finalist last year at the Australian Open. She won the French Open last year and then had a tough couple of months later in the year, where she played poorly. Possibly she was not able to handle the publicity that she got back home in China from winning a Grand Slam.
She showed some excellent tennis in the Sydney warm-up tournament though and I think she will show up playing well at the Australian Open.
LI NA WITH A GOOD WIN OVER PETRA KVITOVA IN SYDNEY
The draw was released on Friday and there are a couple of interesting things to note.
1. Caroline Wozniacki in the top draw is facing some really tough opponents. She could face Jelena Jankovic in the fourth round and either Li Na or Kim Clijsters in the quarterfinals.
2. The second quarter is a bit weaker in my opinion. Here Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska should have the best chances to get through.
3. The third quarter is quite exciting as well with Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, and Vera Zvonareva in it. Serena is my favorite in this one but Maria has a good chance of getting through as well of course.
4. In the fourth quarter Petra Kvitova is the clear favourite to me. Sam Stosur is in there as well and it will have to be seen how she handles the pressure of playing in front of her home crowd. Ana Ivanovic and Marion Bartoli are two more players that could make it out of this quarter.
Alright guys. So much for my Australian Open Preview. It should be an exciting tournament and please let me know your own thoughts in the comment section below!