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Australian Open: Top players to watch out for
The first Grand Slam of the calendar kicked off in Melbourne on Monday amidst much grandeur and style. The Australian Open sets the tempo for the whole year. Can World No 1 Novak Djokovic carry on his form and clinch his sixth title or will Roger Federer dethrone the champ with his class once again? As far as the women are concerned, Serena Williams, who had a fine 2015, will look to maintain the same form going into this Grand Slam but there are other contenders who, at a given point of time, can spoil the party for Williams. We bring before you some of the players you have to watch out for in this Australian Open. (Photo: AP)
The first Grand Slam of the calendar kicked off in Melbourne on Monday amidst much grandeur and style. The Australian Open sets the tempo for the whole year. Can World No 1 Novak Djokovic carry on his form and clinch his sixth title or will Roger Federer dethrone the champ with his class once again? As far as the women are concerned, Serena Williams, who had a fine 2015, will look to maintain the same form going into this Grand Slam but there are other contenders who, at a given point of time, can spoil the party for Williams. We bring before you some of the players you have to watch out for in this Australian Open. (Photo: AP)
Serbian ace Novak Djokovic is the favourite to win the first Grand Slam. The 28-year-old has been at the top of his game even since Boris Becker started to coach him for the past four years. He has a great Australian Open record. The five-time winner would want to start on a winning note. However, his biggest threat would be the Swiss duo of Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka. Having lost to Wawrinka in the French Open would be his biggest regret in his career. (Photo: AP)
Serbian ace Novak Djokovic is the favourite to win the first Grand Slam. The 28-year-old has been at the top of his game even since Boris Becker started to coach him for the past four years. He has a great Australian Open record. The five-time winner would want to start on a winning note. However, his biggest threat would be the Swiss duo of Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka. Having lost to Wawrinka in the French Open would be his biggest regret in his career. (Photo: AP)
For players like Roger Federer, age is just a number. The 34-year-old Swiss legend is still going strong. Interesting to note here is that Federer hasn’t won a Grand Slam for a while, but is still going ahead with his game plan, which is reaping fruits. Federer recently hired Ivan Ljubicic and flying to Australia, Federer would surely have a plan to crack the Djoko code, the only player he hasn’t been that effective against. Federer holds a very positive mindset and will give everything to win another crown. (Photo: AP)
For players like Roger Federer, age is just a number. The 34-year-old Swiss legend is still going strong. Interesting to note here is that Federer hasn’t won a Grand Slam for a while, but is still going ahead with his game plan, which is reaping fruits. Federer recently hired Ivan Ljubicic and flying to Australia, Federer would surely have a plan to crack the Djoko code, the only player he hasn’t been that effective against. Federer holds a very positive mindset and will give everything to win another crown. (Photo: AP)
Stan Wawrinka had his career breakthrough at Melbourne Park, winning the Australian Open in 2014 — his 36th Grand Slam event — for his first major title. He had a major letdown with a first-round exit at the following French Open but has been a fixture in the second week since then, and proved he wasn't a one-Slam wonder by winning the French Open in 2015, beating Djokovic in the final — he was the only man to beat Djokovic at a major in 2015. (Photo: AP)
Stan Wawrinka had his career breakthrough at Melbourne Park, winning the Australian Open in 2014 — his 36th Grand Slam event — for his first major title. He had a major letdown with a first-round exit at the following French Open but has been a fixture in the second week since then, and proved he wasn't a one-Slam wonder by winning the French Open in 2015, beating Djokovic in the final — he was the only man to beat Djokovic at a major in 2015. (Photo: AP)
2015 was the first season since 2004 Spaniard Rafael Nadal didn't win a major title, although it was the first since '11 that he participated in all four majors. The True Blue courts at Melbourne Park are far from his favourite surface, and he's won fewer majors here than anywhere else, not surprising for the best clay courter of all time. He won the title here in 2009 and lost to Djokovic in the 2012 decider, the longest — at 5 hours, 53 minutes — and latest-finishing final in Grand Slam history. Nadal was beaten in straight sets by Djokovic in a warm-up tournament in Doha but said the lopsided score line wasn't a setback for his season. (Photo: AP)
2015 was the first season since 2004 Spaniard Rafael Nadal didn't win a major title, although it was the first since '11 that he participated in all four majors. The True Blue courts at Melbourne Park are far from his favourite surface, and he's won fewer majors here than anywhere else, not surprising for the best clay courter of all time. He won the title here in 2009 and lost to Djokovic in the 2012 decider, the longest — at 5 hours, 53 minutes — and latest-finishing final in Grand Slam history. Nadal was beaten in straight sets by Djokovic in a warm-up tournament in Doha but said the lopsided score line wasn't a setback for his season. (Photo: AP)
Britain’s top ranking player Andy Murray is a strong contender for this Grand Slam. He has reached the final at Melbourne Park four times without winning the title, including last year's loss to long-time friend Djokovic. Murray didn't win a major in 2015 but had a big year otherwise, getting married in April and guiding Britain to its first Davis Cup title in 79 years, going 11-0 (8 singles, 3 doubles) to become only the second player since the existing World Group structure was introduced to win 11 live matches in a Davis Cup season. (Photo: AP)
Britain’s top ranking player Andy Murray is a strong contender for this Grand Slam. He has reached the final at Melbourne Park four times without winning the title, including last year's loss to long-time friend Djokovic. Murray didn't win a major in 2015 but had a big year otherwise, getting married in April and guiding Britain to its first Davis Cup title in 79 years, going 11-0 (8 singles, 3 doubles) to become only the second player since the existing World Group structure was introduced to win 11 live matches in a Davis Cup season. (Photo: AP)
Where to begin? Serena Williams, named the AP's female athlete of 2015, won the Australian Open on hard courts in January, the French Open on clay in June, and Wimbledon on grass in July, before losing in the US Open semifinals in September, falling just two matches short of the calendar Grand Slam. The semifinal loss to Italy's Roberta Vinci was one of the biggest upsets in the history of women's tennis. In all, Williams won 26 major matches in a row at the majors and was ranked No. 1 every week. (Photo: AP)
Where to begin? Serena Williams, named the AP's female athlete of 2015, won the Australian Open on hard courts in January, the French Open on clay in June, and Wimbledon on grass in July, before losing in the US Open semifinals in September, falling just two matches short of the calendar Grand Slam. The semifinal loss to Italy's Roberta Vinci was one of the biggest upsets in the history of women's tennis. In all, Williams won 26 major matches in a row at the majors and was ranked No. 1 every week. (Photo: AP)
Coached by former Australian player Darren Cahill, Simona Halep had her best season last year, winning WTA titles at Shenzhen, Dubai and Indian Wells. She was runner-up at Toronto, retiring with heat illness, and lost to Serena Williams in the Cincinnati final. She then reached four semifinals, including the US Open. Halep started off 2016 as top seed at the Brisbane International but had to withdraw before her first match with a left Achilles tendon injury. She recovered to play in the Sydney International and appeared to be injury-free leading into the semifinals. (Photo: AP)
Coached by former Australian player Darren Cahill, Simona Halep had her best season last year, winning WTA titles at Shenzhen, Dubai and Indian Wells. She was runner-up at Toronto, retiring with heat illness, and lost to Serena Williams in the Cincinnati final. She then reached four semifinals, including the US Open. Halep started off 2016 as top seed at the Brisbane International but had to withdraw before her first match with a left Achilles tendon injury. She recovered to play in the Sydney International and appeared to be injury-free leading into the semifinals. (Photo: AP)
Sharapova enters the Australian Open with injury concerns after withdrawing as defending champion from the season-opening Brisbane International because of soreness in her left forearm, but says she is 100 per cent recovered from injuries which forced her to miss three months late last year, including the U.S. Open. She lost the final here in straight sets to Serena Williams, and the pair could meet in the quarterfinals this year. Sharapova hasn't beaten Serena since 2004, losing in their last 17 meetings and is looking forward to competing at the Rio Olympics. (Photo: AP)
Sharapova enters the Australian Open with injury concerns after withdrawing as defending champion from the season-opening Brisbane International because of soreness in her left forearm, but says she is 100 per cent recovered from injuries which forced her to miss three months late last year, including the U.S. Open. She lost the final here in straight sets to Serena Williams, and the pair could meet in the quarterfinals this year. Sharapova hasn't beaten Serena since 2004, losing in their last 17 meetings and is looking forward to competing at the Rio Olympics. (Photo: AP)
A two-time champion at Melbourne Park, Azarenka failed to win a tournament last year despite moving up in the rankings by 10 places, finishing the year at No 22 after an injury-marred season. She finished runners-up at Doha last year, losing to Lucie Safarova in the final, and was a quarterfinal loser three times to a trio of star players — Sharapova at Rome, Serena Williams at Wimbledon and Halep at the US Open. Azarenka is always one to watch as she loves Melbourne and its restaurants and night life, none of which appears to affect her play here. (Photo: AP)
A two-time champion at Melbourne Park, Azarenka failed to win a tournament last year despite moving up in the rankings by 10 places, finishing the year at No 22 after an injury-marred season. She finished runners-up at Doha last year, losing to Lucie Safarova in the final, and was a quarterfinal loser three times to a trio of star players — Sharapova at Rome, Serena Williams at Wimbledon and Halep at the US Open. Azarenka is always one to watch as she loves Melbourne and its restaurants and night life, none of which appears to affect her play here. (Photo: AP)
Radawanska has been looming in the top half of the rankings but is yet to win a Grand Slam. She finished in the top 10 in 2014 for the sixth consecutive year, but managed to win only one WTA title. She failed to go past the second round at the Brisbane International this year, and will be hungry to churn out performances in her favour at the Australian Open. With legendary Martina Navratilova as her current coach, Radawanska will hope to create some magic on court. (Photo: AP)
Radawanska has been looming in the top half of the rankings but is yet to win a Grand Slam. She finished in the top 10 in 2014 for the sixth consecutive year, but managed to win only one WTA title. She failed to go past the second round at the Brisbane International this year, and will be hungry to churn out performances in her favour at the Australian Open. With legendary Martina Navratilova as her current coach, Radawanska will hope to create some magic on court. (Photo: AP)
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