Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 18th 2015 Contents A47
January 18, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
After a year which fea-
tured eight Grand Slam
singles champions, there s been
plenty of talk ahead of the Aus-
tralian Open about the new guard
vs the old guard in both men s and
women s tennis. The champions
recently have been, well, just dif-
Stan Wawrinka claimed his first
career major last year in Australia.
Strike one for the new. Then Rafael
Nadal won the French Open, his
ninth at Roland Garros, and Novak
Djokovic won Wimbledon for his
seventh major. The next generation
struck back when Marin Cilic won
the US Open.
Four women shared the Grand
Slams, too---the now-retired Li Na
at Melbourne last year, Maria Shara-
pova at Roland Garros, Petra Kvitova
at Wimbledon and Serena Williams
at the US Open.
So what can we expect in 2015?
At the Australian Open, at least,
the top-ranked players who also have
nine Australian titles between them
are reliable options. That would be
Djokovic with four titles in Mel-
bourne and Williams with five.
Still holding court for the men s
side is 33-year-old Roger Federer,
aiming to add to his 17 Grand Slam
titles---four of them also at Mel-
bourne---and who just notched his
1,000th career match win to capture
the Brisbane International with a
victory over Milos Raonic on January
"Clearly I do believe I have a shot
in Melbourne, otherwise I would go
home," Federer said in Brisbane.
Federer received good news in that
department Friday during the tour-
nament draw---he will play Lu Yen-
hsun of Taiwan in the first round,
a player he has beaten all three times
they ve played.
Rafael Nadal s appendix surgery
in early November has left him
uncertain of his match fitness ahead
of Monday s start of the tournament.
He ll have a tough first-round match
against former top-10 player Mikhail
Youzhny of Russia.
Then there s Andy Murray, who
seems to have recovered from back
surgery late last year and a minor
left shoulder complaint at the start
of this one. A three-time Australian
Open finalist, Murray drew a qualifier
in the first round and could play
Federer in the quarterfinals.
Add Wawrinka, along with the
so-called "young guns"---among
them Grigor Dimitrov, US Open
finalist Kei Nishikori, Raonic and
Australian Nick Kyrgios, who beat
Nadal at Wimbledon last year---to
the potential trophy winners.
Djokovic and Raonic, who both
open against qualifiers, are in the
same quarter of the draw.
Serena Williams hasn t been back
to the Australian Open final since
her last title here in 2010, but can
never be ruled out of contention ---
even with the kind of indifferent
preparation she s had.
No 2 Sharapova warmed up with
a win at the Brisbane International
last weekend, beating Ana Ivanovic
in the final.
Sharapova drew a qualifier in the
first round here and could meet 20-
year-old Eugenie Bouchard, who
reached the Wimbledon final and
the semis in Australia and France
last year, in the quarterfinals.
Two-time winner Victoria
Azarenka, unseeded after an injury-
hit 2014, faces Sloane Stephens in
the first round in a rematch of their
acrimonious semifinal two years ago
when Azarenka left the court for a
medical timeout and Stephens ques-
tioned her reasons for doing so.
Stephens was coming off a big upset
win over Serena Williams at the
Until 2014, there d been very few
surprises in men s majors for nearly
nine years as three players ruled:
Federer, Nadal and Djokovic com-
bined for 32 of the 35 titles in that
span. The exceptions were Juan Mar-
tin del Potro at the 2009 U.S. Open
and Murray s wins at the 2012 U.S.
Open and Wimbledon in 2013
Then Wawrinka won here last year
and Cilic in New York. Cilic won t
play in Melbourne because of a right
Del Potro drew one of the toughest
first-round assignments in Mel-
bourne this year, taking on 24-year-
old Jerzy Janowicz, who won last
week s Hopman Cup with Poland
teammate Agnieszka Radwanska.
As he reviewed results of tourna-
ments at the start of 2015, Federer
paid the new breed of players such
as Janowicz and Dimitrov a com-
pliment, but then appeared to take
"I do believe there is a group of
guys right there that can make a
break again and can do special
things," Federer said in Brisbane. "I
just think it s too early to say in the
season just because Novak and Rafa
lost in Doha that there is something
on the horizon.
"I don t read into any of those
results. I think (Djokovic and Nadal)
are going to be tough to beat, and
favorites for the Australian Open."
The biggest question mark
through the opening week, at least,
will be Nadal s fitness after he spent
three months out with a right wrist
injury after Wimbledon, and later
had the appendix trouble.
Nadal, however, looked fit this
week, enduring a strenuous training
session before taking part in a night
for his children s charity to officially
re-open the Margaret Court Arena,
now Melbourne Park s third venue
with a retractable roof.
"I m working as hard as I can,"
Nadal said. "I m back, and I am
New guard, old guard? Plenty of
different Grand Slam chances
Russia's Maria Sharapova prepares to
make a forehand return during a
practice session on Rod Laver Arena
at the Australian Open tennis
championship in Melbourne, Australia
on Thursday. AP PHOTO
Switzerland's Roger Federer makes a backhand return
during a practice session on Rod Laver Arena ahead of the
Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne,
Australia on Thursday. AP PHOTO
Serena Williams of the US looks at
her racket during a practice session
on Rod Laver Arena ahead of the
Australian Open tennis championship
in Melbourne, Australia, on Thursday.
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