MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – With no Serena Williams within the draw on the Australian Open, there is definitely a chance for an additional ladies’s participant to go on a stunning run and emerge as a first-time Grand Slam champion, as Sloane Stephens and Jelena Ostapenko did final 12 months.
Simply do not describe the primary Grand Slam of the 12 months as “extra open” than regular.
“At any time when I get requested that query, it all the time comes throughout in actually form of an nearly detrimental manner as an alternative of acknowledging what number of nice gamers we’ve,” Johanna Konta, who reached the semifinals of Wimbledon final 12 months, mentioned in her pre-tournament information convention Saturday.
“The depth in ladies’s tennis I actually do imagine in the previous couple of years has gotten so robust,” she added. “There isn’t any straight crusing to the quarters or semis. It does not exist.”
Stephens agrees the Australian Open subject continues to be extraordinarily robust, even with Serena Williams, the defending champion and 23-time main winner, skipping the match as she continues her restoration from a sophisticated childbirth in September.
“There’s a variety of nice gamers,” she mentioned. “It is up for grabs.”
Certainly, any variety of ladies could possibly be holding the trophy at Melbourne Park in two weeks. The No. 1-ranking modified seven instances in 2017, with 5 totally different ladies assuming high spot – three for the primary time.
A kind of ladies, Simona Halep, is seeking to lastly break by and win her first main after twice ending runner-up. She gained the season-opening Shenzhen Open in China, however has had blended earlier outcomes at Melbourne Park, shedding within the first around the final two years.
“I do not really feel stress. I really feel OK. I really feel match. I really feel prepared to begin,” she mentioned. “I’ve yet one more purpose: to win a Grand Slam.”
Stephens got here out of nowhere to win the U.S. Open final 12 months after a prolonged day out with an harm to her left foot. She’s struggled to regulate to the sudden stardom that is include being a Grand Slam champion – she’s misplaced seven straight matches since September – however believes she will discover her recreation once more in Melbourne.
“I feel it is all the time a troublesome transition once you go from not taking part in tennis for 11 months to profitable a Grand Slam,” she mentioned. “I like to simply keep in my very own little bubble and do my very own factor. … It is form of been what I am making an attempt to do.”
There are many different contenders, too. Ostapenko has rocketed up the rankings after her gorgeous win finally 12 months’s French Open. Venus Williams is a risk once more at 37 years outdated, and 2016 Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber is taking part in nicely after a subpar 12 months, capturing the Sydney Worldwide title on Saturday.
Garbine Muguruza is the reigning Wimbledon champion, although her well being has been in query at the beginning of the brand new 12 months. Caroline Wozniacki had a career-reviving season in 2017 and will return to the No. 1 rating for the primary time in six years with a robust exhibiting in Melbourne.
After which there’s Elina Svitolina, who simply captured her 10th tour-level title final week on the Brisbane Worldwide and has a shot at No. 1 herself on the Australian Open.
“I had an important week in Brisbane. In fact, I am assured,” she mentioned.
However she added this alone is not sufficient in at the moment’s always shifting, ultra-competitive ladies’s recreation.
“Everybody needs to win a Grand Slam. … So, I attempt to discover my manner, what will help me to be there, to be prepared for the battle. Only one match at a time.”
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