The 2010s decade is barely behind us, yet the stars of tennis are already in Melbourne for the ‘happy slam’ — the 2020 Australian Open. Despite the devastating bushfires down under casting a shadow over the usual pre-tournament excitement, our worries have been quelled knowing that the show still goes on. Known for pulling off surprises, partly due to its early staging in the year, this year’s staging once again promises more of that, though the big names have already thrown down their gauntlets.
Fresh off victory at the ASB Classic in Auckland for her 73rd WTA career title, Serena Williams leads the pack as the favorite to hoist the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup this year. Could Grand Slam No. 24 finally be attained, after eluding her for the last two years? The odds very well seem to be in Williams’ favor, and all being equal, she should win. Her journey to the final will be no easy feat, and Williams has found herself in the toughest quarter of the draw, which features defending champion Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep, rising star Coco Gauff and sister Venus Williams. Williams opens her campaign against Russia’s Anastasia Potapova.
Home turf favorite and top seed Ash Barty is looking to become the first Australian woman to win the Open since 1978, ending the country’s 42-year drought. The 23-year-old Queenslanders run in Adelaide ensured her No. 1 ranking heading into the tournament, following a stellar 2019 season, which saw her winning the French Open. Defending champion Naomi Osaka is also among the big contenders this year, with the evergreen Simona Halep lurking amongst the 128 women vying for the title. This year’s biggest underdog to watch out for is ‘The Danimal,’ American Danielle Collins.
The dog fight for the Norman Brooks Challenge Cup has not just the Big 3 in the ring. NextGen’s newest poster boy, Stefano Tsitsipas, seeded at No. 5, is another one to watch out for in Melbourne this year. Following his semifinal run at last year’s tourney, Tsitsipas failed to progress beyond the fourth round at the other three majors in 2019. A disappointing season at the majors culminated with a convincing win at the ATP Finals at the end of the year, which earned him a pedestal position heading into the 2020 Open.
Also among the top contenders is Russia’s Daniil Medvedev. While not enjoying similar popularity to that of Tsitsipas, ‘Medwed’ was arguably the most consistent NextGen player of 2019, with an impressive showing at the US Open. The Australian Open plays faster than the US Open, meaning the Russian’s flat hitting style of play will be even more effective in Melbourne.
While the Big 3 are all in their very right favorites to win the Open, Novak Djokovic once again is the frontrunner for the trophy.
Nicholas Martin is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.