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The first grand slam of the calendar year begins at Melbourne Park on Monday in what should once again produce some high quality moments.
Although both the men’s and women’s field look a little weaker due to many absentees mostly due to injury, many of the top seeds and favorites remain.
Recent speculation has suggested that Melbourne could risk losing hosting rights to overseas competitors, so tournament organizers will be keen to ensure the best show is put on.
As always, there are many potential stories and possible matches that will captivate tennis fans everywhere.
Let’s try to predict and analyze both sides of the draw.
Champion: Novak Djokovic
The Serbian is looking for an incredible 10th Australian Open title and the 35-year-old will make it happen.
Since the start of Wimbledon, he has won 30 of his last 31 matches, reaching six finals and winning five. After a rocky start to 2022 that saw him dramatically kicked out of Australia, Djokovic has embraced the country once again since landing and has a point to prove.
With Nadal yet to find form and fellow Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz ruled out with injury, this presents a huge opportunity for Novak to add another Grand Slam title to his name.
Finalist: Daniil Medvedev
The 2022 Australian Open runner-up is also regaining the form that once saw him as the heir to the ‘big three’ with consistent performances lately.
His section of the draw includes current champion Rafael Nadal whom Medvedev will seek revenge for last year.
Dark Horse: Taylor Fritz
A breakout in 2022 saw the American win his first Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells and he’s backed it up with dominating performances of late.
Fritz is placed in the lower section of the table which includes the No. 2 seed Casper Ruud, who has not looked at himself recently, as well as the Italian Matteo Berrettini whom Fritz beat last week in the United Cup final .
Expect him to make a deep run.
Shock Early Release: Cameron Norrie
The 11th seed enters the tournament in scorching form after impressive United Cup victories and has reached the final of the ASB Classic in New Zealand.
The Briton is the UK’s new No.1 prospect after the recent decline of Andy Murray, but I see him retiring early in the third round with Borna Coric or Jiri Lehcheka to cause an upset.
Champion: Iga Swiatek
Slowly but surely Iga’s game is being set apart and discovered by some of the best players, the most recent being Jessica Pegula as she shocked the world No. 1 in the United Cup 6-2 6-2 .
However, on her birthday, the Pole is still the woman to beat for the trophy at the end of January and I don’t see too many competitors being able to get in her way, especially with the withdrawals of Naomi Osaka and Paula Badosa who may match her for power.
Finalist: Belinda Bencic
It may come as a shock to some, but Bencic is reaching her peak at the perfect time for the Australian Open as she recently won the Adelaide International 2 title.
It feels like the 25-year-old has been around the tour for ages now, starting professionally at an early age. Her consistency has let her down lately, which has been frustrating for Swiss fans.
With his side of the draw containing Ons Jabeur, I see Bencic going all the way to the final in some surprise.
Dark Horse: Amanda Anisimova
The American has already impressed so much so far in her short career and has often handled pressure with incredible maturity. Seeded 28th in the draw, a lot of people are looking behind her which is a huge mistake.
Shock early exit: Madison Keys
A former US Open runner-up, Keys is one of the most powerful players on the tour from the baseline and boasts a deadly serve so crucial in women’s football.
However, I was disappointed with his performance in the United Cup. Every time her opponent asked her questions and pushed her back in court, she was intimidated and had no answers.
With a player like Victoria Azarenka likely to be on the other side of the net in the third round, the danger is written everywhere.