Five women to watch at the Australian Open 2023

World number one Iga Swiatek is the favorite to win an Australian Open women’s draw without some of her biggest recent stars. Ashleigh Barty, who lifted the trophy 12 months ago, and Serena Williams have retired, while 2019 and 2021 winner Naomi Osaka is pregnant and absent.

Five players to watch

Every Swiatek

The 21-year-old seized the opportunity after Barty’s retirement to dominate 2022, winning eight WTA titles and becoming the first woman in six years to win two Grand Slams in the same season – at Roland Garros and New York.

After losing the Australian Open semi-final to Danielle Collins, Poland’s Swiatek hasn’t looked back, embarking on an incredible 37-match winning streak.

Read also : From Novak Djokovic to Nick Kyrgios – Five men to watch at Australian Open 2023

She begins her campaign on Monday against Germany’s world number 68 Jule Neimeier, who reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last year and took a set over Swiatek in the round of 16 at Flushing Meadows.

“We played the US Open, and you saw how intense that match was, how difficult it was,” Swiatek said. “It won’t be easy.

Our Jabeur

The Tunisian world number two looks set to make a Grand Slam breakthrough, having been runners-up at Wimbledon and the US Open last year.

The 28-year-old has set herself the goal in 2023 of toppling Swiatek from the number one ranking and becoming the first Arab and African woman to win a Grand Slam.

The late bloomer Jabeur was 26 when she won her first WTA title in 2021 in Birmingham, adding trophies from Madrid and Berlin last year.

“I will try to use this experience from last year because it was a bit difficult,” Jabeur said ahead of her first-round clash with Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek on Tuesday.

“My goal is not to lose any more finals, but to use it to be ready for the next one. »

Jessica Pegula

The 28-year-old world number three arrives at Melbourne Park after playing for the United Cup-winning United States team, where she won four of her five matches and beat Swiatek.

Pegula, whose parents are the billionaire owners of the Buffalo Bills NFL franchise, reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in 2021 and last year, where she was outclassed by a rampant Barty.

With Barty out, she could prove Swiatek’s biggest challenge.

Read also : Rafael Nadal faces tough test in Australian Open defense

Pegula, who faces Romanian world number 143 Jaqueline Cristian on Monday, admitted last year to spending time relaxing at the blackjack table in a Melbourne casino.

Aryna Sabalenka

The explosive Belarusian has promised she’ll be up for a “big fight” at the Australian Open after winning in Adelaide this month for the 11th WTA title of her career.

The 24-year-old left-hander returned to form last season, reaching the US Open semi-final and the WTA Tour Finals championship match, where she lost to Caroline Garcia.

Sabalenka can suffer tremendously from nervousness, which was all too evident in her two season-opening tournaments in Australia last year when she was reduced to tears as her serve fell apart.

Seeded five, she will begin her campaign against Tereza Martincova of the Czech Republic, 73rd in the standings, on Tuesday.

Coco Gauff

The 18-year-old heads to Melbourne Park in fine form after winning her third WTA title at the Auckland Classic this month and warned on Saturday that her “best is yet to come”.

The seventh seed first won hearts aged 15 in 2019 Wimbledon when she came on as a qualifier and reached the last 16, beating five-time champion Venus Williams along the way .

Her heroics sparked ‘Coco Mania’ and she won her first WTA title that year with her second coming in 2021, a year she beat Barty in Rome.

Last year, she reached her first Grand Slam final, losing to Swiatek at Roland Garros.

The American has the honor of playing Monday’s opener on the centerpiece of the Rod Laver Arena against the Czech Republic’s world number 48, Katerina Siniakova.

Gauff would be the youngest Australian Open champion since 16-year-old Martina Hingis in 1997 if she won the Daphne Akhurst Winner’s Cup.

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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)

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