Serena handed tough draw in quest for record 24th Slam

Ross Houston
January 10, 2019

The women's draw looks more open even with Serena Williams, the most dominant force in the sport, back and chasing a 24th grand slam singles title to tie Margaret Court's all-time record.

"But also there's no doubt a year ago, when you look at bigger picture, she came back from having a child, really nowhere near one hundred per cent fit, and she still managed to make the finals of Wimbledon and the US Open, which was incredible".

The 23 times Grand Slam title victor had last won the Australian Open title in 2017 when she was eight weeks pregnant.

The popular 21-year-old's US Open triumph was overshadowed by Serena Williams' tantrum in the final at Flushing Meadows but Osaka has the opportunity in Melbourne to demonstrate she can withstand the spotlight of being the new standard bearer for tennis in Japan, Asia and the next generation of women. "It's something that I clearly want but I have to be able to get there and beat a lot of good players to get it", the American said. While there are players like No 1 Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Serena Williams who will aim for another Grand Slam title, there are few young guns like Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverav who are aiming to win the first title. She warmed up for Melbourne by making the semi-finals of the Brisbane International last week, where she blamed a poor attitude for losing to Lesia Tsurenko. "I never feel pressure to perform". Wozniacki, ranked three, started last season by winning her first Grand Slam in Melbourne and returning to world number one, but ended it in October with the bombshell announcement that she had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

She has already been installed as a short-priced favourite, with the odds-makers confident she won't repeat her infamous US Open final meltdown where she called umpire Carlos Ramos "a thief" and was given three code violations to lose a game and derail her challenge. "She's the one that we need to watch I think for this year".

But she fell foul of officials with the spandex compression garment outfit criticised by the French Tennis Federation president and subsequently banned at Roland Garros. Two-time major champion and former number one Garbine Muguruza was another who had an injury-blighted 2018 which saw her drop out of the top 10.

A win in the upcoming tournament would make Australian Open Williams' most Successful Grand Slam event.

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