Australian Open 2012: What I’m Watching

Can 2008 finalist Ana Ivanovic recapture the magic?

I don’t do predictions on who will win for tennis tournaments. It’s sports, you never know. What I do as a preview is just look at some of the storylines I’m following. So with the 2012 Australian Open here, these are some of my thoughts. Since I put Ana Ivanovic as the lead photo, I’ll start with the 2008 finalist. Honestly, it’s been frustrating being an Ana-fan in recent years. She will show flashes of her old form and then follow that by losing to someone she would have crushed when she was #1. After defending her title in Bali at the end of 2011, she started 2012 by taking Kim Clijsters the distance in a loss at Brisbane, a match Ana should have won. Still, she looked good. But then she turned around and lost in straight sets in her first match at Sydney. Granted, her opponent Lucie Safarova is no slouch. That said, if Ana wants to be among the elite players again, she has to win that match. Furthermore, Ana admitted a bad shot, a missed overhead smash in the first set tiebreak that would have given her set point, affected her the rest of the match. If she wants success, and it’s there to have with so many question marks on the women’s side, she must be stronger mentally. When Ana plays with confidence, she is a completely different player, a dangerous foe for anybody in the draw.

2011 Austalian Open winners, Kim Clijsters and Novak Djokovic

It has rarely happened that my favorite women’s and men’s player won the title at the same Major event in the same year. However, it happened in 2011 as Kim Clijsters and Novak Djokovic both took the title down under. Nole would go on to have one of the greatest seasons in tennis history, adding Wimbledon and the US Open to his trophy-filled year. Kimmie, on the other hand, did not win another event as she struggled with multiple injuries. 2012 has me worried as well, with Clijsters reaching the semifinals in Brisbane, and then having to pull out with a hip injury. Kim actually has won at least one Major the last three years, the longest active streak on the women’s side, but at the moment I’m not sure she can physically finish a tournament.

Will Caroline Wozniacki finally break through?

I know Caroline Wozniacki is tired of hearing the same questions over and over and over and over about her not winning a Major (Slam), especially during Major events. Too bad. Don’t get me wrong, I feel for her frustration, but with the mantle of being ranked the #1 player in the world, there comes expectations. That’s just a fact. If you’re #1 and not only have you not won a Major, you haven’t even reached the final of Major in over 2 years, then you will be bombarded with questions. One thing I will say in her favor is this; if Serena Williams or Kim Clijsters had not been injured and played full schedules over the last 2 years, Caroline would not be #1. And if she were the #3 player in the world during that time, she wouldn’t face the same volume of questions. Of course, she can shut everybody up by winning here in Melbourne. Do I think that can happen? Yes. Do I think it will happen? I love Caroline as a player, but no. (note: above picture of Caroline is from Sydney)

The pressure is on for Samantha Stosur

As much pressure as Caroline is under, so is Australia’s own Samantha Stosur. After having her Major breakthrough at the US Open, another hardcourt Slam, the weight of expectation on Samantha’s shoulders is great. If she is to meet those expectations, she will need to raise her game greatly. Straight set losses to Iveta Benesova and Francesca Schiavone in Brisbane and Sydney respectively does not bode well for her chances in Melbourne. It would be a terrific story if she pulled this title out, though.

There are many other stories. Will Li Na return to the final? Will Petra Kvitova reach the #1 ranking? Will Victoria Azarenka win her first Major? Will Serena return to championship form? But I will leave this post at that. As I said, I’m not predicting a winner…but maybe we can get some predictions from the next generation of Aussie tennis fans. Something tells me Aussies Samantha Stosur and Bernard Tomic might just be in the predictions 🙂

ANA IVANOVIC

at practice sessions

with ball kids

KIM CLIJSTERS

at the draw ceremony

with Novak Djokovic

SAMANTHA STOSUR

at practice session

MARIA SHARAPOVA

One thought on “Australian Open 2012: What I’m Watching

  1. Pingback: 2012 Australian Open - LPGA Tour Forum

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