Australian Open.. Here It Comes


Come January 14, the First Grand Slam of the year begins with much awaited excitement and anticipation. With people eyeing the major grand slam, which will be imperative in deciding the champions of the current year, it remains to be seen who upholds the number one positions this year. Will Federer be dethroned? Or will he go on to become the greatest player ever, reaching Pete Sampras record win of 14 grand slams and crossing that victory.

With a surprise defeat in the Chennai Open early this year, Rafael Nadal’s chances of winning the Australian Open seem bleak after Mikhail Youzhny shunned his hopes of winning the first title this year. The 2nd ranked clay champion, who received setback from the 19th ranked Russian player, has repeatedly failed to show his magic on grass courts but is the indomitable King of Clay.

Other promising players expected to show off some great tennis are Marcos Baghdatis, who will meet another hopeful Andy Roddick in the Kooyong Classic Finals tomorrow after defeating Fernando Gonzalez. Marcos entered the Kooyong as a last minute replacement for Federer , who couldn’t participate in this regular warm up before the Australian Open due to a serious stomach infection. Federer became the third player to pull out of the event along with Nalbandian and Tommy Haas, while Nikolay Davydenko surrendered his second match because of the heat. World No 5 David Ferrer will have a couple of extra days to train for next week’s Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, after being knocked out of the Heineken Open. The Australian Open title remains Hewitt’s most fervent ambition, but the tournament has proved the most elusive of the four grand slams.

Meanwhile, Indian wild card entry, Prakash Amritraj, advanced to the final round of the men’s singles qualifier round of the Open and stands just a game away from entering the main draw. As far as the Women’s tennis is concerned, it will be Venus William’s ninth Australian Open. She is trying her level best to claim it this year, her best being just the 2003 final opposite sister Serena Williams. Venus had an impressive start of the year, winning the JB Group classic held in Hong Kong wherein she crushed Maria Sharapova in the finals. Justine Henin Hardenne, who has finished 2007 as No.1 for three consecutive years, seems all set to adding this title to her bag as she cruised to her finals in the Sydney International. The defending Australian Open Champion, Serena Williams, after a much hyped heartbreak is back in the “courts” and is ready to battle it out. Sania Mirza, our Indian hopeful has been seeded 31 in the First Grand Slam of the year according to her position in the WTA Charts. Sania, after a disappointing 2007, is expected to make a come back with the start of Australian Open this year. However, winning the title would be expecting too much from this young Indian Player. With the best players coming together in this tournament, it seems hard to predict who will emerge victorious. We can only hope for some great tennis in the coming weeks. Keep watching this space.

Surbhi Bhatia