Australian Open Tennis Preview

Cream will rise to top at the Aussie Open

For a tournament that is held at the start of the year when there’s question marks about player form, injuries and who’s been eating too much pudding in the off-season, the Australian Open has a peculiar tendency of largely going to script. Just look at the role call of winners over the past decade. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andre Agassi fill up most of the men’s spots. Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, and Maria Sharapova feature heavily in the women’s column.
The edict is if you’re looking for a champion it doesn’t pay to go past a champion. And the 2013 Australian Open should be no different.
The odds don’t lie here folks and it is very difficult to see anyone other than Djokovic ($1.90), Andy Murray ($3.50) or Federer ($5.50) winning the men’s. If results go according to plan Federer will face Murray in a semi-final, thus making Djokovic the obvious choice for the men’s title.

The women’s looks clear cut for a winner in Williams ($1.75). When thumped by Williams in the Brisbane final last week Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova ominously uttered: “When I play against you, I feel like I dont know how to play tennis.” Say no more. Potential finalists are less clear cut with injury question marks over Azarenka ($5.50) and Sharapova ($9). Agnieszka Radwanska ($13) is certainly worth a look. A winner in Auckland and at time of press into the final at Sydney, she’s the form player of the new season. She took a set off Williams in the Wimbledon decider last year and has improved significantly since. Of the Australians Bernard Tomic ($26) showed some decent touch in Sydney and loves a big stage but the lack of seeding doesn’t help.
Federer lurks in the third round anyway. Lleyton Hewitt ($151)? He digs deep down under but world No.9 Janko Tipsarevic looks a bridge too far in the first unless the Serb’s injury is worse than thought.
Samantha Stosur’s ($34) ankle may be right but is her head? It’s hard to get excited about her prospects when the pressure she constantly seems to be under is only magnified on home soil.
Again, it’s well worth doing your homework on head-to-heads and players that are either on the rise or making a comeback.
A classic example is someone like Svetlana Kuznetsova. She’s unlikely to add to her two grand slam titles here but she showed some decent form at the Apia International in Sydney. Coming back from an injury-plagued 2012 she’s far better than her current ranking of 85 suggests. She is slated to meet seventh seed Sara Errani in the third round and if it eventuates she’ll certainly be an underdog in betting yet she holds a 5-1 career record over the Italian.