Women to watch at the Australian Open starting Monday at Melbourne Park (Sunday in the US):
Seed : 1
2021 Record: 42-8
Career record: 198-73
2021 Title: 5
Career Title: 14
Grand Slam singles titles: 2 – French Open (2019), Wimbledon (2021)
Last 5 Australian Open: Lost in 2021-Quarterfinals, 2020-SF, 2019-QF, 2018-3rd, 2017-3rd
Aces: Trying to give Australia their first women’s champion in their domestic Grand Slam tournament since Chris O’Neill in 1978. … won a tune-up title at the Adelaide International in January, with three wins and another over over top 10 opponents. Coco Gauff. … Since the start of last season, Barty is up 17-1 against members of the Top 10.
Matchup: Defending champion Naomi may face Osaka in the fourth round.
Words: “It doesn’t affect the way I prepare or the way I’m thinking because it’s a Grand Slam. Doesn’t change for us. We look forward, we do what we do can, then we’ll see how we go.” – Barty.
Seeds : 3
2021 Record: 42-17
Career record: 299-161
2021 Title: 3
Career Title: 10
Grand Slam singles titles: 2 – French Open (2016), Wimbledon (2017)
Last 5 Australian Open: 2021-4th, 2020-runners-up, 2019-4th, 2018-2nd, 2017-QF
Aces: Won the WTA Finals at the end of last year’s season and lead the tour in hard-court victories in 2021. … scored two match points at 5-3 in the third set before losing to eventual champion Naomi Osaka in the 2021 fourth round. Australian Open. … works with Conchita Martínez, 1994 Wimbledon Champion and 2021 WTA Coach of the Year.
Matchup: 6 seed Annette Kontaveit in the quarterfinals, a rematch of November’s title match at the WTA Finals.
Words: “Well, I mean, obviously, a win is a win, and winning a big tournament gives you certainty, confidence, motivation.” – Muguruza, on his WTA Finals win.
Seeds : 7
2021 Record: 27-14
Career record: 67-34
2021 Title: 2
Career Title: 3
Grand Slam singles title: 1 – French Open (2020)
Last 5 Australian Open: 2021-4th, 2020-4th, 2019-2th, 2018-not played, 2017-DNP
Aces: Missed out of a tune-up event in Sydney this week due to pain in her lower rib area. … the only player from Poland to win a Grand Slam singles championship. … Her title at the 2020 French Open made her the lowest-ranked champion in Paris in the professional era, finishing 54th. … in the offseason the coach split with Piotr Sierzputowski and hired Tomas Viktorowski, who worked with Agnieszka Radwanska.
Matchup: No. 2 seed Aryna could take on Sabalenka in the quarterfinals.
Words: “I’m not good at making decisions, so it was a tough time for me. For a week, I really had my doubts. …I thought it was a good time for the next step and maybe a change to reset a bit. – Sweetek, on his coaching switch.
Seed : 13
2021 Record: 18-6
Career record: 156-79
2021 Title: 1
Career Title: 7
Grand Slam singles titles: 4 – Australian Open (2: 2019, 2021), US Open (2: 2018, 2020)
Last 5 Australian Open: 2021-Won Championship, 2020-3rd, 2019-W, 2018-4th, 2017-2nd
Aces: All seven of her Tour-level titles have come on hard court, including all four of her Grand Slam championships. … back in action after taking on the rest of 2021 after losing to eventual finalist Leyla Fernandez in the third round of the US Open. … also took time off from the French Open before the second round for a mental health break.
Matchup: Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic or America’s Amanda Anisimova could face off in the third round before a potential match with Barty.
Words: “I’ve always wanted to be more confident on the net, and I always felt like there were a lot of balls I could go on, but I wasn’t comfortable with that part of the court.” Osaka is working with coach Wim Fisset on one aspect of her game.
Seeds : 14
2021 Record: 24-10
Career record: 422-181
2021 Title: 0
Career Title: 23
Grand Slam singles titles: 2 – French Open (2018), Wimbledon (2019)
Last 5 Australian Open: 2021-QF, 2020-SF, 2019-4th, 2018-runner-up, 2017-1st, 2016-1st
Aces: Prepare for the Australian Open by winning the hard-court event in Melbourne. … briefly dropped out of last season’s top 20 for the first time since 2013. … missed the French Open and Wimbledon in 2021 with a torn calf, then returned to action, ending the season with a knee injury. … aside from coach Darren Cahill.
Matchup: May clash with Muguruza in the fourth round.
Words: “I embrace it. I love the challenge. I love the pressure. … I think it’s possible to be back in the top 10. I believe in that.” – Halep, a former No. 1, on trying to raise his ranking.
Seed : 17
2021 Record: 16-7
Career record: 16-8
2021 Title: 1
Career Title: 1
Grand Slam singles title: 1 – US Open (2021)
Last 5 Australian Open: 2021-DNP, 2020-DNP, 2019-DNP, 2018-DNP, 2017-DNP
Aces: Getting ready to make her Australian Open debut, which will be her third appearance at any Grand Slam tournament. In her second, of course, she had gone from qualifying for the championship at last year’s US Open. … she finished 345th in early 2021, reached the fourth round of Wimbledon on her Grand Slam debut in July to reach 179th and 150th at the US Open. Radukanu won all 20 sets to leave New York in 23rd place, with 10 wins – three in qualifying and seven in the main draw. … She was the youngest woman to win a major title since Maria Sharapova turned 17 at Wimbledon in 2004.
Matchup: 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens faces off in the first round.
Words: “At the end of the day, I just want to put myself out there. Even if I keep plunging down. And it’s just about getting back up and falling to the front basically. You are one step better. You learn more.” – Radukanu.
Seed : 18
Country: United States
2021 Record: 36-16
Career record: 59-31
2021 Title: 1
Career Title: 2
Grand Slam singles title: 0 – Best: QF, French Open (2021)
Last 5 Australian Open: 2021-2nd, 2020-4th, 2019-DNP, 2018-DNP, 2017-DNP
Aces: Youngest woman in WTA Top 200. … has been making steady progress since taking the podium at Wimbledon in 2019 as the youngest qualifier in the history of that tournament, then reaching the fourth round. … defeated Osaka in the 2020 Australian Open.
Matchup: The third round could face either 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin or 2017 US Open runner-up Madison Keys.
Words: “Most champions are very hard on yourself, but not to the point where you almost beat yourself up. I think that’s where I was making my mistakes and sometimes I still do. I guess It’s important to celebrate my victory. I’m trying to do my best to celebrate my victory.” – Gauff.
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