good morning! I like to think I know this blog’s commenters pretty well. And I know them well enough that they want nothing more a day after a football match than a hoddle about the Australian Open (which is kinda connected because Postecoglou is Australian) —-
Yes, I know I’m a couple days late to getting in my Australian Open ‘preview’ because we’re a couple days into it already, but not egregiously so.
So let’s take a quick peak at the men’s and women’s singles draws, as well as who I think will come out on top.
Favourites: Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev, Jannik Sinner
I think I’m being pretty generous with the three not-Djokovic players here. So long as he’s in a tournament, Novak Djokovic is the favourite to win. He had a bit of a minor injury in the weeks leading up but I’m not concerned.
Daniil Medvedev is a two-time finalist here and former US Open champion, while Carlos Alcaraz cemented himself as the Djokovic heir-apparent last year.
Keep an eye on Jannik Sinner. He was on fire to to end the year last year and holds a career-high ranking of number four. He’s got a big game and I expect a big year. But I don’t expect him to beat Djokovic.
Dark Horses: Stan Wawrinka, Karen Khachonov, Alex de Minaur, Grigor Dimitrov, Frances Tiafoe
Alex De Minaur is probably the most interesting one here as the highest-ranked Australian, and the first male Australian to rank inside the Top 10 in ages. He’s got a huge forehand, but I’ve never really thought of him to threaten deep in major tournaments.
The other three? Wawrinka is a former Aussie Open champ and can take most players on his day. Grigor Dimitrov is off to a good start this year, and Frances Tiafoe is probably one of the two best-rounded American men’s players.
QFs: Djokovic def Fritz / Sinner def De Minaur / Medvedev def Hurkacz / Alcaraz def Zverev
SFs: Djokovic def Sinner / Alcaraz def Mededev
F: Djokovic def Alcaraz
Favourites: Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina, Coco Gauff
The top four again, fitzie? BORING! Listen, these are the most in-form players in slams lately (Karolina Muchova and Marketa Vondrousova notwithstanding). And the surface suits all four very well. This could be the first time in a very long time where all four of the top women’s seeds reach a major semifinal.
Dark Horses: Caroline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka, Jelena Ostapenko, Zheng Qinwen, Emma Navarro, Naomi Osaka
Jelena Ostapenko and Emma Navarro already have won titles this year, with Ostepnko looking the strongest. I always suit Azarenka on hard courts, although she has a potential 3R match against Ostapenko.
Zheng Qinwen has a killer forehand, and Caroline Wozniacki has played really well since returning from her retirement.
Then, of course, there’s Naomi Osaka. Is the Australian Open too soon for her to win another major? Maybe, especially when she and Coco Gauff are in the same quarter.
QFs: Ostapenko def Swiatek / Rybakina def Trevisan / Osaka def Wozniacki / Sabalenka def Alexandrova
SFs: Rybakina def Ostapenko / Sabalenka def Osaka
F: Sabalenka def Rybakina (again)
Fitzie’s track of the day: All American Alien Boy, by Ian Hunter
And now for your links:
Charlie Eccleshare ($$) on Ange Postecoglou and sticking to your principles
Dan KP: Timo Werner positive in debut but flaws remain
Why England’s ‘Golden Generation’ have failed as managers