Who will win the Australian Open?
I think the answer to the above question was a bit simpler in previous years, especially on the men’s side. You could count on either Nadal, Federer or Djokovic to take the title. On the Women’s side, Serena has always been a good bet. Or any player ranked in the top 3. That doesn’t seem to be the case this year. First of all, there’s a feeling that there’s a massive changing of the guard under way – both on the men’s and women’s side.
On the men’s side, you have a slew of youngsters that are pushing their way in, led by Alexander Zverev. Be on the lookout for Tsitsipas, Medvedev and Coric. Any one of these three could potentially break through in Australia this year.
In terms of the old guard, I find it inconceivable that Roger wins three in a row. Also, Nadal is not in optimal shape. So that leaves the number one player in the world, Novak Djokovic. The final may very well be Djokovic against one of the youngsters. I predict a Zverev vs. Djokovic final.
The women’s side will be more unpredictable than the men. You got Serena still trying to get herself back at 100%, while the number one player in the world, Halep, did not finish the year relatively strong. Add to that the fact that Caroline Wozniacki, the defending champion, also faded during the second half the year, and you end up with a wide-open field. Maybe one of the youngsters will break through in the Women’s draw. Although Osaka has looked a little mentally unfocused going into the Australian, I wouldn’t be surprised if she tears through the field and easily captures the title. She’s a step above everyone else when she’s playing well.
Other than Osaka, I’ve been highly impressed with Dayana Yastremska, the 18-year-old Ukranian who won her first WTA tournament last Fall at Hong Kong, and then proceeded to make the Semifinals at Luxemburg. I had a chance to see her play on TV and she looks like the real deal. She plays an aggressive brand of tennis and moves very well around the court. So, as a favorite, my money is on Osaka. However, an up and comer such as Yastremska could go deep in the draw.