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:
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.
Andy Murray  – Kei Nishikori 
Stan Wawrinka  – Marin Cilic 
Gaël Monfils  – Milos Raonic 
Dominic Thiem  – Novak Djokovic 
First round matches to watch:
Nicolas Almagro – Jérémy Chardy
Jerzy Janowicz – Marin Cilic 
Dustin Brown – Milos Raonic 
Tommy Haas – Benoît Paire
Fabio Fognini – Feliciano Lopez 
Fernando Verdasco – Novak Djokovic 
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  – Jelena Jankovic
Ana Konjuh – Kristina Mladenovic
Heather Watson – Sam Stosur 
Tsvetana Pironkova – Agnieszka Radwanska 
Kirsten Flipkens – Johanna Konta 
Yanina Wickmayer – Lucie Safarova
Belinda Bencic – Serena Williams 
Angelique Kerber  – Garbine Muguruza 
Simona Halep  – Svetlana Kuznetsova 
Karolina Pliskova  – Agnieszka Radwanska 
Dominika Cibulkova  – Serena Williams 
Photo credit: Australian Open instagram
Victoria Azarenka dispatched Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3 6-2 to win her third tournament of the year after Brisbane and Indian Wells. She’s the first woman to win the Indian Wells and Miami tournaments back-to-back since Kim Clijsters in 2005.
The former number one, who only lost one match so far – her quarterfinal against Angelique Kerber at the Australian Open – will now focus on the clay court season, and set her sights on the French Open.
Lots of people watching defending champion Novak Djokovic at practice:
Marina Erakovic defeats Svetlana Kuznetsova 3-6 6-2 7-6
More pics of Erakovic’s win
Flavia Pennetta defeats Julia Goerges 6-3 4-6 6-1
Thanks to Peg, who covered the Cincinnati Masters for Tennis Buzz, a few pictures of players practicing:
Radek Stepanek waiting for the serve:
Stepanek was playing Istomin. Stepanek won:
Here is the coin toss in the match between Peter Polansky and Juan Monaco.
Sabine Lisicki and Martina Hingis:
Dellacqua and Barty. They won in three sets.
More Indian Wells pics: