The last match Serena Williams lost was…in Cincinnati last August. She has said that 2013 would have been a better year had she won more Slams. But it was still a year with just four losses. Is 2014 going to be something similar? Better? And if not, why not. She hasn’t made the semi-finals here in Melbourne since 2010, but she does have five titles. If she does win here, that would be Slam No.18, equalling Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. Serena starts off against Australian youngster Ash Barty in the night match on Rod Laver Arena. “She’s extremely talented,” Serena said. “I was actually super impressed with her game. I thought she was a really, really great player. I just try to play the best I can, I try not to do too much to change my game.” Anything can happen, but she sounds motivated.
Third time lucky for Azarenka?
The Australian Open has been to Victoria Azarenka what it has been to Novak Djokovic. The Belarusian successfully defended her title here last year, and is on for a hat-trick. But, Cincinnati aside, Serena is winning their mental battle. Azarenka barely won a match after losing the US Open final, and was defeated by Williams again in Brisbane last week, ending her streak of wins on Australian courts. It’s time for a new twist in the tale.
Much like Andy Murray, all eyes are on the returning Russian, deemed to have fully recovered from her troubling shoulder, and with new coach Sven Groenfeld in her camp. But, again, Serena looms large as a blot on Sharapova’s copybook, although for once they are slotted in different halfs. Losing before the second week would be a big disappointment.
“I’m happy to be back playing at a Grand Slam,” Sharapova said. “You obviously have to lower your expectations a little bit and be a bit realistic about the first few mathces. You have to grind, work through them, hope to get better as the tournament goes on. There’s no easy opponent in this tournament, no matter what round you’re playing.”
Is there anyone else out there?
Are we destined to see the Big Four in the last four? Or will there be a different face to change things up. Del Potro, Ferrer, Tsonga, Berdych? Someone new? The same applies for the ladies. Serena, Sharapova and Azarenka have won seven of the last eight majors. It’s time for Li Na, Agnieszka Radwanska, Petra Kvitova, or someone else to have a go. Where are you Marion?
“I really wish I can win another Grand Slam,” Li said. “This is the goal for me.”