Australian Open draw

Only two days to go to the first Slam of the season! Who do you think will win? Check out her Australian Open 2017 preview:

Men’s draw:

Contenders:

Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are once again the big favorites for the title.
5-time Australian Open finalist Andy Murray, who begins his campaign on Monday against 93-ranked Ilya Marchenko, has a quite easy route to the quarterfinals where he could meet Kei Nishikori or Roger Federer.
Novak Djokovic will launch his bid for a record seventh Australian Open title with a challenging first round match against Fernando Verdasco, who missed 5 match points against the Serb in Doha last week. Grigor Dimitrov could wait in the fourth round, before a clash against Dominic Thiem in the quarters.
The only two other players who could, in my opinion, capture the title this year are Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic. Unpredictable on the ATP tour, Wawrinka is always consistent come Grand Slam time; while Raonic has improved a lot in the last year and is not a one-weapon only player anymore.

Players to watch:

Rafael Nadal struggled to get back to form since his injury, but had a decent start of the season with a win at the Abu Dhabi exhibition and a quarterfinal in Brisbane. He could face Alexander Zverev in the third round, Gaël Monfils in the fourth round and Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals.

Roger Federer will play for the first time since last year’s Wimbledon. Seeded 17, he has not won a Slam title since Wimbledon 2012. He could face Tomas Berdych in the third round, and then Kei Nishikori and Andy Murray.

Projected quarterfinals:

Andy Murray [1] – Kei Nishikori [5]
Stan Wawrinka [4] – Marin Cilic [7]
Gaël Monfils [6] – Milos Raonic [3]
Dominic Thiem [8] – Novak Djokovic [2]

First round matches to watch:

Nicolas Almagro – Jérémy Chardy
Jerzy Janowicz – Marin Cilic [7]
Dustin Brown – Milos Raonic [3]
Tommy Haas – Benoît Paire
Fabio Fognini – Feliciano Lopez [28]
Fernando Verdasco – Novak Djokovic [2]

Click here for the full men’s draw

Who will be the 2017 Australian Open champion?

  • Someone else (26%, 29 Votes)
  • Novak Djokovic (25%, 28 Votes)
  • Rafael Nadal (24%, 27 Votes)
  • Andy Murray (16%, 18 Votes)
  • Stan Wawrinka (3%, 3 Votes)
  • Milos Raonic (3%, 3 Votes)
  • Kei Nishikori (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Dominic Thiem (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Tomas Berdych (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Gaël Monfils (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Marin Cilic (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 113

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Women’s draw:

Contenders:

Unlike the men’s draw, there is no clear favorite in the women’s draw, and it seems anything could happen.
Angelique Kerber had a dream season last year, with two Grand Slam titles and the world number one spot. She opens up her title defence with a match-up against Lesia Tsurenko and could play reigning Roland Garros champion Garbine Muguruza in the quarterfinals.
Serena Williams, who suffered a shock defeat to Madison Brengle in Auckland last week, will be chasing Grand Slam title number 23. Like Novak Djokovic, she will face a tough test in the first round: former world number 7 Belinda Becic.
The ever consitent Agnieszka Radwanska could finally win her maiden Slam title, while Karolina Pliskova and Garbine Muguruza will be looking to confirm their stand-out 2016 season.

Players to watch:

Finalist here in 2014, Dominika Cibulkova claimed her biggest title last October: the WTA Finals. She will look to pick up where she left off last year.

A surprising semifinalist last year, Johanna Konta reached the top ten since then, and won Sydney title, dismantling Radwanska in the final. She could do some damage in the draw.

Like Cibulkova, Svetlana Kuznetsova finished 2016 in great form. On a good day, she can beat anyone.

First round matches to watch:

Louisa Chiricio – Eugenie Bouchard
Mona Barthel – Destanee Aiava
Laura Siegemund [26] – Jelena Jankovic
Ana Konjuh – Kristina Mladenovic
Heather Watson – Sam Stosur [18]
Tsvetana Pironkova – Agnieszka Radwanska [3]
Kirsten Flipkens – Johanna Konta [9]
Yanina Wickmayer – Lucie Safarova
Belinda Bencic – Serena Williams [2]

Projected quarterfinals:

Angelique Kerber [1] – Garbine Muguruza [7]
Simona Halep [4] – Svetlana Kuznetsova [8]
Karolina Pliskova [5] – Agnieszka Radwanska [3]
Dominika Cibulkova [6] – Serena Williams [2]

Click here for the full women’s draw

Who will be the 2017 Australian Open champion?

  • Serena Williams (35%, 15 Votes)
  • Angelique Kerber (23%, 10 Votes)
  • Garbine Muguruza (12%, 5 Votes)
  • Karolina Pliskova (12%, 5 Votes)
  • Someone else (7%, 3 Votes)
  • Dominika Cibulkova (5%, 2 Votes)
  • Svetlana Kuznetsova (5%, 2 Votes)
  • Agnieszka Radwanska (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Simona Halep (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Johanna Konta (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Carla Suarez Navarro (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 43

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Photo credit: Australian Open instagram

2016 US Open Angie Kerber

“When I was a kid I was always dreaming to one day be the No. 1 player in the world, to win Grand Slams. And today is the day. All the dreams came true this year.” — Angelique Kerber

What a year indeed for Angie Kerber: 3 Grand Slam finals, silver at the Olympics and the number one spot. Here’s a look at Kerber’s career by the numbers:

2003: Kerber turned pro in 2003, aged 15

2012: she wins her first WTA tournament, the Open GDF in Paris, defeating Marion Bartoli in the final

10: Kerber has won 10 tournaments in her career so far

0: she has never won a Premier tournament (the WTA’s equivalent to the ATP Masters 1000)

10: her rankings at the start of the season

8730: her number of WTA points

22: Kerber became the 22nd player to reach the number one spot since the WTA ranking was introduced in November 1975.

1: at 28 years old, she became the oldest female player to debut at the top spot.

2: she’s the second German player to reach number one, 21 years after her idol Steffi Graf.

3: she’s only the third left-handed player, after Martina Navratilova and Monica Seles.

A few pictures from the final thanks to Satoshi Tsuboi:

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Angelique Kerber, winner of the 2016 US Open
The good

Stan Wawrinka: there’s a new champ in New York. The Swiss struggled to get past the first rounds, losing a few sets here and there and saving a match point in the third round. But he stepped up in the semifinals against Nishikori and outplayed Djokovic in the final. 3 Grand Slam finals, 3 titles.

Stan ✅ Stanimal ✅ Stan the Man ✅ And now #usopen Champion ✅ (📸: @dcarrollphoto)

Une photo publiée par @usopen le

Karolina Pliskova: before this tournament, she had not passed the third round in her 17 previous Grand Slams appearances. She took down Venus Williams and top-seeded Serena Williams to reach her first Grand Slam final.

Caroline Wozniacki: she’s two years younger than Kerber but it seems she’s been on the circuit for ever. She beat Svetlana Kuznetsova and Madison Keys en route to the semifinals.

“I came into this tournament ranked No. 74 in the world and probably people ruled me out, but it’s nice to prove people wrong once again.”

Lucas Pouille: he reached the quarterfinals after 5-sets marathon wins over Chiudinelli, Bautista Agut and Rafael Nadal. He seems to be the only French player to have both the game and the attitude. A player to watch out next year.

Laura Siegemund and Mate Pavic: they had never met before this tournament. They teamed up to win the mixed doubles title defeating CoCo Vandeweghe and Rajeev Ram in the final.

“It’s really kind of a blind date.”

Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares: they joined forces at the beginning of the season and won 2 Slam titles (the Australian and US Opens) since then.

The bad

Garbine Muguruza: the French Open champion was knocked out of the tournament by Anastasija Sevastova in the second round.

“Today was just very difficult. Everything I was trying to do she was coming back and doing incredible shots.”

Aga Radwanska: overpowered by 18-year old Ana Konjuh in the quarterfinals. The question is no more “when will she win her maiden Slam” but rather “will she ever win a Slam”.

Andy Murray: beaten by Nishikori in a bizarre match, he seemed mentally tired. He’ll now focus on the Davis Cup semifinals against Argentina.

“I tried my best. I fought as hard as I could with what I had. I didn’t let anyone down — certainly not myself. I pushed myself as hard as I could over the last few months, and I’m very proud of how I have done.”

Milos Raonic: a shock defeat to qualifier Ryan Harrison in the second round. His explanation: cramps due to nervousness, (nervous to play Ryan Harrison?).

Marin Cilic: the 2014 champion looked like a title contender again but surprisingly fell to Jack Sock in the third round.

Gaël Monfils: what on earth was he doing against Novak Djokovic? Not sure he knows it himself. What a waste of talent.

Bernard Tomic: nothing to add.

The queen

She started the year ranked number 10 with a large defeat to Victoria Azarenka in the final of the Brisbane tournament. A couple weeks later she stunned Azarenka and Serena to win the Australian Open.
Fast forward 8 months Angelique Kerber is now the new number one and took home a second Slam trophy.
Is it the beginning of a new era for women’s tennis?

First selfie + 🏆😍! Thank you for your overwhelming support ❤#teamangie #nyc🗽 #usopen2016

Une photo publiée par Angelique Kerber (@angie.kerber) le

Photo credit: Satoshi Tsuboi

Angelique Kerber, 2016 US Open

Serena’s reign as number one is over… for now. Karolina Pliskova stunned Serena Williams 6-2 7-6 in the semifinals and Angelique Kerber is the new number one. Kerber and Pliskova will face in the final in a rematch of Cincinnati’s final. Let’s have a look at both players road to the final:

Karolina Pliskova’s road to the final

Karolina Pliskova

Round Opponent Score
R1 Sofia Kenin 6-4 6-3
R2 Montserrat Gonzalez 6-1 7-5
R3 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova [17] 6-2 6-4
R4 Venus Williams [6] 4-6 6-7 7-6(3)
QF Ana Konjuh 6-2 6-2
SF Serena Williams [1] 6-2 7-6(5)

Karolina Pliskova cruised through the first three rounds without dropping a set, but had to work hard to get past Venus Williams in the fourth round. She dispatched Ana Konjuh 6-2 6-2 in the quarters before outgunning ending outplayed Serena Williams to reach the US Open final. She became only the fourth woman to beat both Williams sisters in the same Grand Slam tournament.

“I don’t believe it, I knew I had the chance to beat anyone if I played my game. I am excited to be in the final and to beat Serena as she is such a great champion. Even when she was down a set and break she was still fighting. I had to fight hard to win.”

Angelique Kerber’s road to the final

Angelique Kerber

Round Opponent Score
R1 Polona Hercog 6-0 1-0 ret.
R2 Mirjana Lucic 6-2 7-6(7)
R3 Catherine Bellis 6-1 6-1
R4 Petra Kvitova [14] 6-3 7-5
QF Roberta Vinci [7] 7-5 6-0
SF Caroline Wozniacki 6-4 6-3

Angelique Kerber reached her third Slam final of the year without losing a set. A dominant performance by the new number one.

“It’s just incredible, it’s a great day. To be here in the final for the first time means a lot and to be number one in the world – it sounds amazing.”

Angelique Kerber – Karolina Pliskova head to head: 4-3
Year Tournament Surface Winner Score
2011 Copenhagen R32 Hard Angelique Kerber 6-2 6-2
2014 Doha R32 Hard Angelique Kerber 7-6 6-4
2014 Nürnberg QF Clay Karolina Pliskova 7-6 6-4
2015 Sydney SF Hard Karolina Pliskova 6-3 6-2
2015 Birmingham F Grass Angelique Kerber 6-7 6-3 7-6
2015 Stanford F Hard Angelique Kerber 6-3 5-7 6-4
2016 Cincinnati F Hard Karolina Pliskova 6-3 6-1

Kerber is the favorite to capture her second Grand Slam title, while Pliskova has nothing to lose. Karolina or Angelique? Please share your comments below.

Photo credit: Luis Fonseca

Read more:
2016 US Open QF: Angelique Kerber defeats Roberta Vinci
My pics of Angelique Kerber at practice at Roland Garros
Stuttgart 2016: Angelique Kerber retains her title

Angelique Kerber, 2016 US Open

An upset and a new queen.

Karolina Pliskova played brilliantly to defeat 22-times Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in straight sets 6-2 7-6. That means Angelique Kerber (who defeated Caroline Wozniacki in the second semifinal) will replace Serena as the new number 1 in the WTA rankings on Monday. She will be the first German to top the rankings since Steffi Graf back in 1997.

Relive the semifinals through Brian’s tweets:

Photo credit: Porsche AG

Follow our 2016 US Open coverage.