Level-headed Osaka thriving in Grand Slam spotlight

11 January, 2019, 09:12 | Author: Malcolm Quinn
  • Five women to watch at the Australian Open

Kanepi, 33, is yet to progress beyond the third round of the Australian Open, though she has reached the quarter-finals twice at every other Grand Slam.

While Evert thinks Serena is "raring to go" as she looks to equal Margaret Court's all-time Grand Slam title record of 24, she predicts strong challenges from the players who stopped the American reaching that tally a year ago - Japan's Naomi Osaka, who beat Williams in the U.S. Open final, and Angelique Kerber who trounced her in the Wimbledon title match.

World number one Simona Halep, with a massive burden off her shoulders, will hope to go one better this year having lost the 2018 final to Caroline Wozniacki.

The 31-year-old went into a bewildering slump in mid-2016 that only ended when he won Wimbledon last year, before he went on to claim his third US Open crown and move to 14 grand slam titles, three behind Rafa Nadal.

Wozniacki also has a question mark over her fitness after the 28-year-old Dane revealed her battle with rheumatoid arthritis last October, but has since claimed that she has learnt to live with it.

As far as the final match is concerned, in-form Angelique Kerber of Germany could be Williams' opponent.

Fellow American great Chris Evert said the shadow of the US Open final controversy would not hang over Williams' career.


"In general, it's about her offensive game", Rittner told Deutsche Welle of the three-time Grand Slam champion who lost an agonising, breathless semi-final 9-7 in the final set to Halep in Melbourne past year.

"I feel like if there's one thing I should be able to do it's draw a tennis ball", the Olympic gold medalist, 37, explained.

She has already been installed as a short-priced favourite, with the odds-makers confident she won't repeat her infamous US Open final meltdown where she called umpire Carlos Ramos "a thief" and was given three code violations to lose a game and derail her challenge. "Maybe she has it even more now that she is a working mother", Evert said.

Yet she appears to have put the emotional turmoil experienced in NY behind her and is revelling in her status as standard bearer for the next generation of women's players.

"There's no doubt that was a negative but there's no doubt that also past year when you look at the bigger picture, the fact that she came back from having a child she was really nowhere near 100 percent and she still made the finals of Wimbledon and the US Open was incredible".

January sees the tennis season blaze into life on the scorching hard courts of Melbourne Park. "She's the one that we need to watch I think for this year".

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