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Five favourites to reach the Australian Open women semis
Jan 20, 2022, 6:21:00 AM

Five favourites to reach the Australian Open women semis

Women’s events in Grand Slams have been extremely competitive over the past year. All four Grand Slam titles in 2021 were won by different players. As the 2022 season begins with the Australian Open, all four will undoubtedly want to begin their campaign on a high.

Adding excitement to the already competitive mix this season is the fact that both Williams sisters will be missing the Grand Slam for the first time in over 20 years. While home girl Ashleigh Barty will have the edge competing, defending champion Naomi Osaka will have a point to prove as well.

Here is a look at 5 possible players who could make the Semi-finals of the event.

Ashleigh Barty

Top Seed Ashleigh Barty has been the 2019 champion at Roland Garros and replicated that success on the grass at Wimbledon last year. Known for her remarkable achievements as a doubles player, Barty’s switch to singles and subsequent rise to the top has been nothing mercurial.

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Barty has never made it past the Semi-final stage in front of her home crowd at the Australian Open. She crashed out of the Quarter Final in 2019 defeating Maria Sharapova along the way. This was followed by an even more impressive performance in the following year where she reached the Semi-finals before facing defeat against Sofia Kenin, who went on to win the title.

Aryna Sabalenka

Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka is the World No. 2 women’s tennis player right now and comes into the Australian Open on the back of some impressive performances. She reached her first Grand Slam Semi-final at Wimbledon in 2021 and followed it up by another Semifinal showing at the Canadian Open. The big-serving Sabalenka is also the reigning women’s doubles champion at the Australian Open along with Elise Mertens.

Sabalenka’s serve was known as the strong point of her game but she has been struggling to find the same rhythm of late. A strong performance at the Australian Open will put all doubts regarding her mental toughness to rest and push her closer to the top ranking in the women’s division.

Garbine Muguruza

World number three Garbine Muguruza was just one step away from winning her first Australian Open title in 2020 but lost 6-4, 2-6, 2-6 to Sofia Kenen. She will be eager to go one better this time with momentum on her side as the 2021 WTA Finals champion.

The former world number one has two Grand Slam titles to her name – the 2016 French Open title and the 2017 Wimbledon title. However, she will have to bring all her experience into play if she hopes to overcome her hot favourite Barty in this year’s event.

Barbora Krejcikova

The 2021 French Open champion is the fourth seed at the Australian Open. She comes into the event on the back of an Olympics doubles Gold in Tokyo. The Czech tennis star has already tasted success Down Under as she was the 2022 Sydney International Finalist.

Krejcikova has seven Grand Slam titles to her name. Her aggressive style of gameplay and big serve put her in a prime position to cause an upset in this year’s Australian Open.

Naomi Osaka

A defending champion is rarely the dark horse in the race for a Grand Slam title. However, Naomi Osaka’s long break from tennis has resulted in doubts being cast over her current form and rhythm. It doesn’t help that she is on track to face top seed Barty in the Round of 16.

Osaka is currently the 13th seed at the event. She pulled out of a warm-up event earlier physical discomfort from returning to the sport after a gap of four months. All these factors will be against the defending champion. But her record puts her as a definite contender for the title.

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Words: Sahil Gangurde

Image: PA