Australian Open 2012 – tournament preview from The Pro perspective.

14 Jan

What a great start for tennis and for the Australian Open 2012, the Grand Slam of Asia / Pacific. The women (and men) are playing for $2,300,000.00 + invaluable ranking points.

And in perhaps the most open Open field in years there are no fewer than 9 active winners of a ‘Slam in the women’s draw. They are Serena – and wow is she looking in shape – lookout, Kim Clijsters – confident and prepared for her last tilt at all slams this year, Sharapova – always confident, always thereabouts, Kuznetsova – will need to hit some form, Ivanovic – ditto, Kvitova – looks lile a real contender, especially after her 2011 Wimbledon triumph and current World # 2 ranking, Li Na – can she recover her 2011 form?, Francesca Schiavone – if everyone else falters she won’t go away, and Sam Stosur…

Stats are a funny thing – and surprisingly Venus Williams – who is out injured – leads younger sister Serena  in the career wins in Slam tourneys – 210 to Venus, 208 to Serena – so there is a record that will fall this Open. The next most wins of active players is “Aussie” Kim Clijsters with 123 wins. And seriously what of Wozniacki – World number 1 for 67 weeks now – and not a slam in sight…

Could this be the year the women’s wildcard recipients breakthrough – perhaps but we shouldn’t expect too much from the youngest player in the draw at 15 yearsand 8 months –  young Aussie hopeful Ash Barty – still only 15 but already a Wimbledon junior champion and winner of the wildcard play-off. She CAN play – just needs to be given time to develop and mature, but really has only blue sky ahead! Perhaps Casey Dellacqua in another fairytale Aussie Open drama (a-la Alicia Molik in 2008, Jelena Dokic in  2009, or Justine Henin in 2010)

I guess my final word prre-tournament on the womens field is this – it is very hard to look further than Serena for the winner – she is fit, feisty, hungry and boasts the best record here – have an each way on Kim Clijsters, look for a value bet with Sharapova – who has to regain her mojo in 2012 to be taken seriously. Beyond that Kvitova, maybe a ground breaker from Stosur. That’s it for the women.

THE MEN

Momentum is everything in tennis –  but who has the real thing. Novak Djokovic is targetting three consecutive slams, following his 2011 titles at Wimbledon and the US Open – this is no easy feat – the last players to do this in the Open era are Rod Laver, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Illusturious company.

Federer is 20 and 0 from the back end of the 2011 ATP Tour, and suddenly looks fresh, re-invigorated and seriously capable of winning a 5th Australian title to put himself ahead of Rosewall, Agassi and Crawford who also won 4 Australian Opens.

Andy Murray is also on a hot streak winning his last three events in the Asian swing of the ATP tour at the end of 2011.

For mine it maybe the rose coloured glasses but there is something I see in the way Federer is approaching 2012. I think he has perhaps two to four – yes that’s right, 2 to 4 slam titles left in him. I think Rafa may struggle in 2012, knees, hips, general fatigue, Novak will fall, must fall from his own upper limits following a stellar 2011, Andy is thereabouts – but at best a journeyman – not an out and out champion. Too much pride on the line – too much at stake,

Federer will be the story of 2012. As an interesting statistical ‘afterthought” the “Dodger” sits behind only one player in the all-time open era Grand Slam singles match win list. He is on 228 wins, just behind Jimmy Connors on 233. My tip is Roger will pass James Scott Connors right here in Melbourne following his semi final win, and then go on to win the 100th edition of the men’s singles at the Australian Open.

AO 2012. Bring it on!

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One Response to “Australian Open 2012 – tournament preview from The Pro perspective.”

  1. sallyparrott January 19, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

    Great summary of what could be in store with some of your predictions already playing out! Watched Ash Barty play a brave match and agree she is mature for a 15 year old!

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