In order to keep up to date with the all the action in the first Grand Slam of the season, we recommend resetting the body clock by having a large Saturday night then lying in till Sunday evening, as we’re off down Under to sunny Melbourne for the Australian Open.
Fascinating Men’s and Women’s singles tournaments are on the cards, with Djokovic and Serena Williams aiming to become potential record breakers if they can lift their respective trophies – Novak for most Australian Open wins, Serena for the open-era Women’s Grand Slam record. Sleepless nights ahead then for Roy Emerson and Steffi Graf.
A thrilling end to last season saw Andy Murray knock Djokovic off top spot in the ATP rankings, although the Serb has already gained the New Year’s bragging rights, defeating Murray in the final of the Qatar Open last week.
On the back of that victory, Djokovic heads to Melbourne Park in search of his seventh Aussie Open title. Having taken a hat-trick of victories between 2011 and 2013, clinching the title once again will give him the rather impressive double-triple to go with his 2008 triumph. We’ve tried, but failed, to see beyond Djokovic and five-time runner-up Murray when it comes to calling this year’s Men’s winner.
Despite Serena’s undisputed place as queen of the modern tennis era, the now 35 year-old will feel she has a point to prove in Melbourne having being knocked from her throne atop of the WTA rankings by Angelique Kerber. Neither player has begun the season in great form, which could open the door to one of the new breed to stamp their mark. Karolina Pliskova reached the final of the US last year and is a strong contender off the back of her Brisbane title last week. Those attracted to larger numbers when assessing betting markets may find Bouchard and Svitolina attractive propositions.
Melbourne is famed for its four-seasons-in-one-day weather, which always adds another interesting dimension to the season’s opener. We have seen younger talents struggle with the physicality of Grand Slams in the past as we once pulled up in our “US Open Flakes” blog (see http://blog.jabet.com/us-open-flakes), and only the players who acclimatise and find their best form quickly will be able to challenge the top dogs in the next couple of weeks. Those of you for whom a hot summer’s day is something you’ll only be seeing from the confines of your TV screen, good luck explaining the bags under those eyes to the boss!