Thursday, January 21, 2010

Looking Towards Rod Laver Arena

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One year is over and the new one begins. Just as quickly the build-up starts for the first Grand Slam event of the year. There are a lot of questions to ponder regarding this year’s Australian Open.

Defending champion, Rafael Nadal, isn’t heading into the tournament in the best of form and tennis betting isn’t sure what to make of him. It is quite crazy – 12 months ago he was just about invincible and how he is plagued by injury and self-doubt.

Similarly Roger Federer isn’t the same juggernaut he once was. Yes he played in all four Grand Slam finals last year but only won two of those most notably the US Open last time up to Juan Martin del Potro.

That leaves the question – how open is the men’s tournament? In previous years have sprung up surprise finalists be it Marcos Bagdhatis, Petr Korda or Thomas Johansson. Those last two actually won the tournament and never did anything else of note.

On the women’s side of things, the big question will be how Serena Williams fares. She came under huge scrutiny following her meltdown at the US Open.
Also there is the return of Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters. The two played in the 2004 decider which Henin won in three sets. You would think this places extra pressure on the likes of Dinara Safina, Ana Ivanovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Caroline Wozniacki, Elena Dementieva and Maria Sharapova.

The two Belgian players are really the only two who seems to not to crumple into a ball of nerves when playing one of the Williams sisters.
From a local perspective, again the best and probably only hope is Lleyton Hewitt. The problem for him is his age and injuries. He doesn’t look to have what it takes to make it deep into a Grand Slam. Also the draw doesn’t seem to do him any favors. There is Jelena Dokic but she doesn’t seem to be in the same groove as she was last year when she made it as far as the quarter-finals.

We shall see. As usual it will be a fantastic two weeks of tennis.

David Wiseman writes for this blog and the Australian Open.

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