Aus Open 2018: Women's Singles roundup
Nature of the tournament has changed dynamically over the years but something hints that this year will have a different flavour to it writes, Ananya Das.
This This year is already off to a bright and exciting start as the Australian Open that commenced on Monday is already proving to be nothing but offbeat, unexpected and in a unique sense it has also been delightful to see that the favorites that we had in our minds are no longer in the competition. The nature of the tournament has changed dynamically over the years but something hints that this year will have a different flavor to it.
On paper, it seemed like the American dream would be realized this year as Venus Williams was the favorite to win the Australian Open but to everyone's surprise she has crashed out of the tournament on the very first day losing to the tough seed Belinda Bencic, the Swiss thunderstorm that engulfed Williams to win through straight sets 6-3, 7-5. To say that the gods of tennis are not with the Americans this year would be a gross understatement as Sloane Stephens and CoCo Vanderweghe also crashed out of the tournament after losing to Zhang Shuai - 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2 and Hungary's Timea Babos 7-6, 6-2 respectively. It wasn't just the Americans, women's third seed, Garbine Muguruza, was dropped in straight sets by the unseeded Su Wei-Hsieh, 7-6(1), 6-4
With Serena Williams taking a break this time, the level of competition has somewhat come down but that is not to say that the women still competing aren't fiercely fighting for their spot in this competition. The point of bringing this up was that deciding now as to who the new favorite will be becomes a harrowing task and Venus Williams' and Sloane's exit only makes it ten-folds harder. For starters, Ukraine's Elina Svitolina has made rounds throughout the industry for being a tough nut to crack. The world no. 4 won her way through the Brisbane International earlier last week after defeating Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2, 6-1 in the finals. Not only did she win the tournament in Brisbane, she won it in style after winning 8 consecutive games. Another gem participating is Britain's Johanna Konta whose 5th visit to Australian Open will have to be her lucky charm. Although she represented Australia until 2012, she now runs for Britian. To prove that she only means business, she beat Madison Brengle, the 26 -year-old Brit showed brilliant service game and her ground-strokes counted for most of her points along with good net work which eventually meant she beat Brengle 6-3, 6-1to progress over to the next round where she beat her fellow countrywoman M Kostyuk 6-2, 6-2.
An eventual name that had to come up in this round up is Maria Sharapova's. The 30-year old has been climbing all the ladders there are to climb since her 15-month doping ban and has been ferociously defending her long running reputation of being one of the best tennis players of all time. Life was not easy for the Russian, having run from the folds of a country weighed down with violence and unrest, Sharapova made it to the US and started her tennis tenure. She had a decent run in the US Open and although only a few match the achievements she has got, she will have to compete with the great likes of Angelique Kerber who beat her last time. Maria beat Germany Tatjana Maria with a score-line of 6-1, 6-4 to progress to the next round.
Women's Singles has always been one of the most competitive sections of any tournament and understanding the close complexities of the game is one of the many things that a player must possess to make it through. This year, there are some underdogs who seek to get a title and some are veterans coming up for a new age victory. We will just have to see who takes the cake.