Serena Williams' legacy secure despite infamous US Open umpire row: Chris Evert

Doug Mendoza
January 10, 2019

She arrives as second favourite with the bookies behind Williams, and seems unfazed both by her stratospheric rise and by the prospect of the huge support she could receive at the Australian Open, often dubbed the Asia-Pacific Grand Slam.

On the women's side, all eyes will be on Serena Williams as she aims for Grand Slam number 24.

The Dane finally broke her Grand Slam hoodoo in Melbourne 12 months ago after 12 years of trying, and is determined to prove she remains a force at the top level after dropping the bombshell that she is suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

Britain's Andy Murray will face world number one Novak Djokovic in a practice match on Thursday as part of his preparations for the Australian Open.

Federer, however, continues to defy the odds at 37 and prepared for his title defence with some convincing performances in the Hopman Cup in Perth last week. By winning here previous year, Federer joined Laver and Ken Rosewall at the top of the list for most Grand Slam titles won after turning 30. Bookmakers in Australia have installed Williams as a short-priced favourite for the title with her US Open conqueror Osaka - the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam - next in the betting.

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

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Halep, who is without a coach since Australian Darren Cahill left for family reasons, will expect her back to hold up after a herniated disk curtailed her 2018 season. The shock diagnosis came after Wozniacki had returned to number one and taken her WTA tour title tally to 30 with victories not only in Melbourne, but also Eastbourne and Beijing.

The Australian Open could be a return to normalcy for tennis, or it could simply reiterate that the new age is here to stay.

Kerber beat Wiliams in the Wimbledon final to become the first German woman to win the grass court title since Steffi Graf in 1996. "She's in position where can break records in the tennis world".

Also in the mix is the popular Osaka, who stunned Williams in NY.

The grand slam champion was bedridden for six weeks due to the complications after her daughter was delivered by caesarean section.

Osaka suffered a straight-sets loss to Lesia Tsurenko in the semi-final of the Brisbane International and withdrew from the Sydney International in frustration.

Other reports by GizPress

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