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Australian Open 2022

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Australian Open

The Grand Slam season is finally underway, as the Australian Open kickstarted the tennis season in the middle of January. There is a long way to go in the Grand Slam event, with many of the major players that have leading chances still in contention to claim success Down Under.

However, one player that will not be able to make history with a 21st Grand Slam title this year is Novak Djokovic, as he was deported following a lengthy saga regarding his COVID-19 status. Regardless, the exciting tournament promises to be one of the best of the year, but which players are among the leading contenders for a Grand Slam this year?

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Daniil Medvedev

Daniil Medvedev could be the male player that stands the most to gain at the Australian Open following the deportation of Djokovic. The 25-year-old Russian has been one of the standout players in the world over the past 12 months or so and is the second-highest ranked player in the world rankings. Medvedev made history when he became the first player to knock out the top three ranked players in the world to win a season-ending competition.

He also broke his duck for a first Grand Slam success last year, as he beat Djokovic in the final of the US Open. His form at the Australian Open is also relatively strong, as he will be looking to improve on his previous best effort when reaching the final 12 months ago.

Alexander Zverev

Alexander Zverev enjoyed an excellent year in 2021, and is currently the third-ranked player in the world. The German is the only active tennis player on the men’s circuit to have won five ATP Masters 1000 titles outside of the Big Four. However, he is yet to land a Grand Slam title. His best challenge to date came when he finished second at the US Open in 2020, as he was beaten in the final by Dominic Thiem.

Zverev is in excellent form coming into the Australian Open this year, having won the Olympic gold in 2021, and also ending the season with victory in the ATP Finals against Daniil Medvedev. He looks to have an excellent chance of bettering his semi-final appearance two years ago.

Rafael Nadal

Many believed that the Australian Open would be the Grand Slam when Djokovic finally won his record-breaking 21st title. However, with his exclusion, Rafael Nadal could instead set the record as the outright leader in terms of Slam titles. The Spanish star has also won 20 titles during his career, with 13 of them coming at the French Open.

Nadal has only won the Australian Open on one occasion during his career, with that victory coming back in 2009. He has appeared in four finals since then but is yet to record a second straight win. Nadal was knocked out at the quarter-final stage in each of the last two years, but still boasts an impressive 82% win percentage at the Grand Slam.

Women’s Australian Open

Ashleigh Barty

The top-ranked female player in the world will be looking to make home advantage count in Australia. Ashleigh Barty has won two Grand Slam titles to this point and won her most recent title at Wimbledon last year. However, a victory Down Under would kickstart her season in the best possible fashion. Barty’s best performance at the Australian Open came in 2020, as she was knocked out at the semi-final stage.

Last year, she reached the quarter-final stage for the second time in three years. She still has a very impressive win percentage at the Australian Open, as she has won 68% of the games that she has played.

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Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka often saves her best performances for the hard courts, and that has been evident from her performances in Grand Slam events over the past four years. She has won two titles at the US Open, and has also claimed two victories at the Australian Open.

At both Grand Slams, she boasts a win percentage of 85%, which is far higher than her records at the French Open and Wimbledon. Osaka is the reigning champion at the Australian Open this year, having beat Jennifer Brady in straight sets 12 months ago. If she is at the top of her game this year, she will be very difficult to beat in Melbourne.

Iga Swiatek

Iga Swiatek is also among the leading contenders for the Australian Open in the women’s draw. She enjoyed a historic year in 2020, as she became the first Polish player to win a Grand Slam, and in doing so, she also became the youngest star to win the tournament since Rafael Nadal in 2005.

She is yet to add to her Grand Slam victories since that win, but has performed well at the Australian Open in recent years. This year will be only her fourth appearance at the Grand Slam, and she looks toward getting past the fourth round for the first time in her career. She has a win percentage of 70% at the Australian Open, which is only bettered by her 88% at the French Open.

The Australian Open looks set to be one of the most exciting tennis events of the season, and there are excellent contenders in both the men’s and women’s draws.