Kerber, Serena, Muguruza: 5 Women Who Could Win Australian Open
The Quint shortlists five tennis players who could possibly win the 2017 Australian Open women’s singles draw.
The year’s first grand slam tournament – the Australian Open – is set to start on 16 January. This time, however, it would be interesting to see whether Serena Williams, who lost to an unstoppable Angelique Kerber in the final last year, will be able to reclaim her singles title.
Kerber’s win at Melbourne Park was only the first of many shocks that followed. The German player went on to dethrone Serena Williams from the top spot of the women’s singles rankings after 186 weeks.
While Kerber and Williams seem to be the top choices to take the Australian Open women’s singles trophy home, The Quint looks at the top five women to watch out for this year.
World number one Angelique Kerber took the women’s singles world by storm as she toppled Serena Williams to take the top spot in 2016.
In a breakthrough season that started with winning the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup, Kerber was a finalist in three of the four grand slams and was unanimously chosen WTA Player of the Year.
After beating Serena in the final, the German tennis player clinched her first grand slam (the Australian Open) at Melbourne last year. She went on to lose to Serena in the Wimbledon final but won a silver medal at the Rio Olympics and then captured her second major after beating Karolina Pliskova in the US Open final.
Angelique hasn’t had an ideal start to 2017. She lost to Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals at the Brisbane International and then was beaten 7-6 (5), 6-2 in her first match at the Sydney International by 26th-ranked Daria Kasatkina. However, she still remains a top hopeful for 2017 Australian Open women’s singles draw.
2016 Match Record: 63-18; 2016 Singles Titles: 3; Career Singles Titles: 10; Major Titles: 2 — Australian Open (2016), US Open (2016)
It was always going to be difficult for Williams to match her stellar 2015, when she was named AP's female athlete of 2015, won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon before losing in the US Open semifinals, falling just two matches short of the calendar Grand Slam.
Taking home only two titles, 2016 thus was an ‘off year’ for Serena by her standards. For the first time since 2012, the 35-year-old lost her world number 1 ranking in women’s singles to Kerber.
The newly-engaged Williams opened the year at the ASB Classic in wind-swept Auckland with a surprise second-round loss in three sets to fellow American Madison Brengle. Henceforth, it would be interesting to see if Williams can reclaim the Australian Open title and her number one ranking in 2017.
2016 Match Record: 38-6; 2016 Singles Titles: 2; Career Singles Titles: 71; Major Titles: 22 — Australian Open (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015), French Open (2002, 2013, 2015) , Wimbledon (2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016), US Open (1999, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014)
The Australian Open last year marked world number three Agnieszka Radwanska’s best Grand Slam performance. The polish tennis player lost in the semifinals to Serena Williams in straight sets at Melbourne Park.
In the other 2016 Grand Slams, Radwanska lost in the fourth round. However, she won two of her three tournaments in 2016 in China — at Shenzhen the week before the Australian Open and at Beijing in October.
Radwanska lost in the quarterfinals of the Shenzhen Open last week to Alison Riske, a year after beating the American in the final. In the 2017 Sydney International final, however, she advanced to the final where she lost to Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-2.
Though she’s yet to win her maiden Grand Slam title, her form in the recent past suggests that the Australian Open this year could be when Radwanska wins her first major.
2016 Match Record: 53-18; 2016 Singles Titles: 3; Career Singles Titles: 20; Major Titles: None. Best — Wimbledon finalist ('12)
The Venezuelan-born Garbine Muguruza captured her first Grand Slam singles title in 2016, beating Serena Williams in the French Open final. She however failed to capitalise on her success at Roland Garros, losing in the second round at both Wimbledon and the US Open and not reaching another final.
“Winning Roland Garros has been the best and worst part of the year,” Muguruza said in October. “It might sound strange, but it was like a double-edged sword. I won Roland Garros, but at other tournaments I felt more responsibility, more pressure, more eyes on me, more of a feeling that you have to win because it’s what is expected of you.”
While she made the third round of the Australian Open in 2016, the chances of Muguruza winning the title this year, though, are slim. Currently seeded seventh, the 23-year-old pulled out of her semifinal match at the Brisbane International last week against Alize Cornet with a right thigh injury, suggesting she isn’t in her best form at the moment.
2016 Match Record: 35-20; 2016 Singles Titles: 1; Career Singles Titles: 3; Major Titles: 1 — French Open ('16)
Australian-born Johanna Konta became one of the stories of last year's Australian Open. A crowd favourite, the 25-year-old beat Venus Williams in the first round and advanced to the semifinals, becoming the first British woman to make a Grand Slam semi since 1983. She was however knocked out of the tournament after losing to Kerber 7-5, 6-2.
Currently seeded ninth, Konta won her only title of the year at Stanford, beating top-seeded Venus Williams in the final. Thereafter, she had a consistent year and moved from 47th to 10th in the year-end rankings.
To open 2017, Konta lost to Katerina Siniakova in three sets in the Shenzhen Open semifinals. She then beat Agnieszka Radwanska in the Sydney International final, putting her among the top players who could go on to win the 2017 Australian Open.
2016 Match Record: 46-22; 2016 Singles Titles: 1; Career Singles Titles: 1; Major Titles: None; Best: Australian Open semifinalist ('16)
(With inputs from AP.)
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